Saanich will not follow Victoria’s lead when it comes to reopening recreation facilities just yet.
Mayor Fred Haynes said a number of Saanich residents have reached out expressing a desire to see outdoor recreation facilities reopen in time for the long weekend especially as other municipalities begin to reopen. However, due to safety concerns, he said Saanich’s recreation facilities won’t begin to reopen until sometime after the long weekend.
Victoria and the Capital Regional District began to ease restrictions and reopened outdoor recreation facilities such as sports courts and skate parks with increased safety protocol as of May 14. The decision to reopen facilities came after the B.C. government announced its Restart Plan, which includes recreation in Phase 1.
Haynes understands that residents are eager to return to Saanich’s recreation sites but emphasized that the operational and safety aspects must be managed beforehand. Saanich will not be “moving in lock-step” with Victoria as the municipalities are so different, he said.
He explained that every municipality “has its own unique characteristics” and must find the most effective path to reopening based on a variety of factors including available staffing and the types of amenities in the municipality.
Haynes anticipates recreation facilities could begin to reopen sometime after the long weekend but said a date has not been set.
“We will open up as effectively as we can with safety first in mind,” he said. “I’m not prepared to put even one resident at risk.”
He added that even when recreation facilities do reopen, use of the playgrounds, courts, recreation centres and other facilities may not be the same as it was before the pandemic. Residents and staff need to feel safe while using the facilities, Haynes said.