The playground at Summerland Middle School was closed earlier this spring in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 1, the municipality of Summerland and School District 67 are reopening playgrounds. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland to reopen playgrounds and recreational facilities

Some outdoor spaces will reopen on June 1, but arena and aquatic centre remain closed

The municipality of Summerland is continuing the process of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of June 1, all municipal playgrounds, the Dale Meadows basketball hoops and the Peach Orchard beach volleyball facilities will be open to the public.

In addition. School District 67 will open its playgrounds and sports courts in Summerland on June 1.

“The district appreciates that outdoor activity is important for maintaining physical and mental wellness. That is why the district kept passive facilities, such as trails and Summerland beaches, open even as restrictions were increased throughout British Columbia,” said mayor Toni Boot. “Staff will continue to take a coordinated and guided approach to decisions on reopening municipal.”

Visitors are reminded to use these outdoor spaces with caution, to keep physical distance between others, to stay home if sick and to wash or sanitize their hands regularly.

Signage will be on display outlining these requirements.

READ ALSO: Summerland closes playgrounds

READ ALSO: Summerland parks remain open for passive use

While the facilities are opening, the municipality has reduced staffing on maintenance teams. The staff reductions were implemented earlier as a result of the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The water park at Peach Orchard Beach, the park gate at Giant’s Head Mountain Park and remote outdoor washrooms remain closed. The Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre and the Summerland Arena are also closed.

Organized sports and park rentals will remain closed until enhanced protocols have been determined.

Beginning in mid-March, the municipality shut down playgrounds, recreation facilities and public offices in an effort to slow the spread of the pandemic.

As warm temperatures are expected, Boot urged residents to be careful and use common sense when getting out.

Despite the physical distancing directives in place, pictures have circulated showing people in other parts of Canada crowded in parks and at beaches on warm weekends.

In addition, while travel is permitted, Boot urged Summerland residents to stay within the province if possible.

“Stay within B.C. and visit places you have not yet discovered,” she said.

Tourism organizations are already changing their messages to attract those who live in the province.

She added that it is important to be respectful to those who are in the area from out of province.

There have been reports of those with out-of-province license plates who have had their vehicles vandalized or who have received angry notes telling them to leave the province.

Boot said some out-of-province visitors own vacation properties in British Columbia while others have travelled to the province in order to help friends and family members.

“You don’t know what the situation is,” Boot said. “It’s really all about having empathy to what any individual in our community is going through.”

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