The City of Terrace is looking to gradually reopen many of its leisure services.
City council heard a presentation June 2 from director of leisure services, Carmen Didier, which detailed recommendations to reopen City-managed playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, and modified youth day camps this summer. She recommended the Sportsplex and the Terrace and District Aquatic Centre remain closed until at least September.
The recommendations are essentially based on the Province’s phased reopening plan, Didier said, and council should amend the plans if the pandemic changes course.
“It all depends on where we are in this pandemic, if we stay in phase 2, or we move into phase 3, and how council would like that to correlate with the levels of opening up the facilities,” she said.
Didier said her department is planning to disinfect playground equipment once per day in high-touch areas. The department is also prepared to post signs with safety guidelines including a 2 metres physical distancing and a suggestion that hands be disinfected before and after using the equipment. However, these are just guidelines, Didier said, and the City is not required to enforce them.
“[There] is not an expectation that children have to stay away from one another on the playgrounds, but we are putting it on our posters,” she said, noting that anyone using the equipment would be responsible for bringing their own hand sanitizer.
Councillor James Cordeiro asked why playgrounds are deemed ready to open, while the Sportsplex is not.
“I’m just sort of curious why a playground would be deemed to be less risk than, say, the Sportsplex, given that the playground has no staff supervision,” he said.
Didier said her playground recommendations were based on information from the BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA,) which indicated playgrounds are relatively safe.
“There is still going to be an element of risk, but all the science and what we’ve been told is that the transmission on a playground from kids playing on a playground is minimal compared to other aspects of recreation,” she said.
Tyler Clarke, program supervisor with the City’s leisure services department, told council that youth day camps can still run this summer, but significantly modified for safety during the pandemic.
It’s likely the camps will be for kids 6 – 12 years old. Parents will be able to sign a child up for one week at a time, consisting of either two morning sessions or two afternoon sessions. For example, Monday morning and Wednesday morning. Each session will be limited to 15 kids and will only run for three hours, which is shorter than previous years.
“The shorter days do mean less touch points and more kids can participate safely,” Clarke told council. “One of the key ideas behind going with just the three-hour session is, we don’t have to do the lunch breaks or the snack breaks, so simply bringing a water bottle for these sessions will work.”
Parents will have to sign specific COVID-19 waivers in order for their children to participate, Clarke said.
“The BCRPA recommends with the waivers, that is enough in place that we do not need to do extra care for the physical distancing. So, will they be playing tag? That is an option,” he said. “We’re not required to actively enforce physical distancing within these camps because our numbers are low.”