Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre is among several local facilities and institutions closed doors to the public until further notice. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre is among several local facilities and institutions closed doors to the public until further notice. (Black Press Media File)

Public life grinding to a halt on the Saanich Peninsula

Several key public and private facilities have closed down or scaled down services

Life across the Saanich Peninsula is grinding to a halt as various public facilities and private businesses close their doors amid COVID-19.

Public access to all municipal buildings in Sidney including municipal hall, the community safety building, and public works and parks yard has remained “restricted” since Monday morning following a decision by the municipality. “We have taken this measure to ensure the health of our staff and the public as we all work together to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” read the announcement. “We are continuing municipal operations to the fullest extent possible during this time and prioritizing essential services.”

This move continued the closures of various facilities that started last week and has continued through the week. Perhaps the most significant closure last week was the decision of Beacon Community Services to close Sidney’s SHOAL Community Centre, a hub of activity for the community, especially for seniors, on Friday, March 13.

“The safety of our members, residents and volunteers is paramount,” said Bob Boulter, chief executive officer of Beacon Community Services, the charity which operates the centre. “We know seniors are at highest risk of illness due to COVID-19 and so, out of an abundance of caution, it seems prudent to close for the time being.”

The next significant closure happened Sunday afternoon when the Sidney Museum announced it would close until further notice. The Town of Sidney announced its move Monday morning, effective 11 a.m., and the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea had closed its doors by Monday afternoon after having remained open during the preceding weekend.

The Vancouver Island Library also announced Monday that it would close all of its branches, including its branch in Sidney serving that community, as well as North Saanich. A complete list of facilities that have either closed until further notice or restricted public access in Sidney is available here.

RELATED: COVID-19: MP Elizabeth May self-isolates, works from home, contemplates learning ukelele

RELATED: Popular Sidney aquarium closes over coronavirus

RELATED: Sidney restricts access to all municipal buildings

RELATED: Sidney Museum closes in wake of COVID-19 spread

Two other local institutions in Sidney also closed their doors. The Mary Winspear Centre announced on its website Tuesday morning that it would close to the public until further notice.

“As a central hub for gathering on the Peninsula, it is our utmost responsibility that we take every precaution to keep our patrons and staff safe to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” it read. Sidney’s Star Cinema closed effectively Monday. “It was a difficult decision to make, but our priority is to keep our customers, especially our senior guests, and employees as healthy and safe as possible,” it said in a statement.

Elsewhere on the Saanich Peninsula, Central Saanich announced Tuesday that it is limiting public access at municipal hall and the police station to public appointments only. “Municipal operations continue and the public can reach staff by phone or email,” said Britt Burnham, manager of community services, adding the municipality continues to monitor the situation.

The municipality had earlier restricted public access to Fire Station 1 on Keating Cross Road. Private function spaces at Fire Station 1, Municipal Hall and the Fieldhouse and shelters at Centennial Park had also become unavailable for booking until further notice.

Central Saanich Police has also curtailed its catalogue of services. For the time being, it will not be offering in person criminal record checks, fingerprinting, crop protection permits and freedom-of-information applications.

Activities have also been winding down at the Central Saanich Cultural Centre in Brentwood Bay used by four different user groups. The Centre for Active Living 50+ is closed and the Greater Victoria Public Library closed its branch in that location Monday afternoon part of a system-wide closure.

As for North Saanich, Rebecca Penz, communications manager, said the district is taking its direction from the province and Island Health. “Currently, the guidance is to limit public gatherings to 50 people,” she said. “Even on a busy day, the District’s facilities including municipal hall, firehalls and green waste facility, do not, individually, have nearly that many individuals gathering at a time.”

The municipality has increased its cleaning protocols, she added. “We have also updated our business continuity plan, including ensuring that staff that are able to do their work from home are set-up electronically in the event that the District receives guidance that further isolation is required.”

Panorama Recreation Centre, which serves all three communities, has been scaling down activities as well and will close until further notice at 5 p.m. Tuesday night.

“To support community health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Peninsula Recreation Commission has directed staff to close recreation facilities at 5 p.m. today, March 17,” read a statement sent out Tuesday afternoon. “All Panorama Recreation programs and services will cease until further notice with the exception of Spring Break Camps which will remain in operation until 5 p.m., Friday, March 20.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Divyesh Nagarajan, third from the left, has founded the Be My Friend project to bring support and companionship to vulnerable youth and address North Saanich’s food security challenges. (Courtesy of Divyesh Nagarajan)
Greater Victoria teen looks to connect vulnerable youth with a buddy, bolster food security

Be My Friend project was founded by St. Michaels University School student Divyesh Nagarajan

Greater Victoria is ranked fourth out of 27 Canadian cities for the best places for youth to work in, according to a RBC report. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria among best Canadian cities for youth to work in, says RBC report

Region ranked fourth out of 27, behind Vancouver, Hamilton and Edmonton

Donna Brower (left) and her daughter Carol Anne Penner, members of the Silver Swans – a quilting group of 12 ladies who meet at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary – with a mountain of masks they sewed. (Photo submitted by Julia Dawson)
Saanich quilting group nabs first prize in Volunteer BC photo contest

Silver Swans sewing club raised more than $12,000 for Swan Lake nature sanctuary

Saanich police reported an increase in violent crimes and a drop in traffic incidents in the first three months of 2021 compared to the final quarter of 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich police report increase in violent crimes during first quarter of 2021

More domestic violence, less property crime and distracted driving compared to end of 2020

Happy green tomato seedlings wait to be purchased at 3378 Wishart Rd. in Colwood. They’ve been grown especially for the Colwood Garden Society’s fundraiser to build a shed at the community garden. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Colwood Garden Society hopes to raise shed with plant sale

Herbs, vegetable starts, flowers and more for $1, $2 and $3 until May 15

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

What3words was first created in the U.K. in 2013 and is credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. (Contributed)
‘This is a life saving tool’: App helps paramedics find capsized canoeists near Revelstoke

What3words pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read