While many parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities are closing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capital Regional District is asking visitors to regional parks to adhere to orders from the provincial health officer and maintain social distancing.
The province’s top doctor says people must keep at least two metres of space between themselves and others and not gather in groups. While going outside is acceptable, people should only remain close to members of the same household.
“Responsible use of regional parks and trails may allow them to remain open,” a statement from the Capital Regional District (CRD) reads. “Should measures outlined by the provincial health officer not be able to be maintained, parks will have to be closed for public health and safety.”
Effective March 24, the CRD turned off water fountains in regional parks as well as on trails. All CRD playgrounds are closed along with Saanich, Sidney, Victoria, Langford and Colwood playgrounds.
CRD parking lots will remain open to avoid traffic disruptions, but the City of Colwood announced all parking areas adjacent to Esquimalt Lagoon beach, Royal Beach and at city parks closed starting March 25. Colwood says beaches and parks remain open and that the parking lot closure is to limit large crowds.
The Jordan River Regional Park Campground is closed, as are provincial campsites, visitor centres, playgrounds, washrooms and day-use facilities. Complete provincial park closures are being considered on a case-by-case basis as health officials look to prevent people from gathering in large numbers.
Full B.C. park closures are in effect at French Breach, Goldstream Provincial Park, Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, Juan de Fuca, Liard River Hot Springs, Maquinna Marine, Joffre Lakes, Murrin, Shannon Falls, Skaha Bluffs, Stawamus Chief and Ancient Forest Provincial Park.
The City of Langford shut down City Centre Park, including all activities at Goudy Turf Field, Westhills Stadium, Playzone, both the dry and ice rinks and Langford Lanes until April 14.
The City of Victoria announced a closure of outdoor recreation facilities in public parks. This includes skate and bike parks, basketball courts, tennis courts, sports fields, outdoor gyms and other facilities. Saanich followed suit and closed all of its outdoor recreation facilities – including the Cedar Hill Golf Course, lacrosse boxes, tennis courts, basket and sports courts.
Saanich said park permits used to reserve park space have been cancelled and annual passes for the golf course have been suspended.
The Panorama Recreation center, Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre and all West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities are also closed.
On March 24, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, reiterated the need for compliance with social distancing and self-isolation rules.
–With files from Tom Fletcher