Coronavirus: Penticton, Summerland release reopening plans

Two communities in the South Okanagan are joining others across the province as they slowly reopen during the coronavirus pandemic with phased approaches.

On Wednesday, the City of Penticton announced that it will reopen some outdoor facilities on Friday, May 15, “as part of its phased approach toward a safe ‘restart.’”

On Thursday, the District of Summerland followed suit by announcing its park reopening plans.

“Summerland has many outdoor recreational spaces within its municipal boundaries, and we want the community to enjoy these amenities,” Summerland Mayor Toni Boot said in a press release.

“District staff continue to follow the directives of the B.C. public health officer and will be ensuring that all health and safety protocols as reopening progresses are in place.

“While we encourage residents to use our parks and trails, it is with the expectation that folks will continue to do their part in slowing the transmission of the coronavirus.”

In Penticton, the city said in addition to the parks and trails, beaches, sports fields and the disc golf course that’s currently open, the following spaces will also be reopened for casual use:

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  • Skateparks
  • Tennis courts
  • Pickleball courts
  • Dog parks
  • Pump track
  • Fenced play courts

“The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is very aware of the pandemic we’re facing and is taking all the appropriate measures to ensure safety as we work toward the new normal,” said Penticton Fire Chief and EOC deputy director Larry Watkinson.

“As we take these steps, it’s vital that you continue to maintain physical distancing, wash and sanitize your hands frequently, and be mindful of others around you. We also ask that you keep your groups small and avoid sharing sports equipment.”

The city noted that all indoor recreation facilities remain closed at this time, as are playgrounds, outdoor basketball courts, volleyball courts, playgrounds and splash pads.

The city said the EOC is conducting risk assessments and working towards their safe reopenings, and that all updates will be made public when available.

“The EOC is taking a careful and planned approach to restart Penticton. We all have a role to play in supporting this objective and following the advice of the provincial health officer,” said Penticton mayorJohn Vassilaki.

“If you are using any of these facilities, either this coming long weekend or beyond, please review and obey any posted signage instructions prior to starting your activities.”

In Summerland, the district’s beaches, trails, boat launch and casual-use parks remain open, as they have been throughout the pandemic.

But starting Friday, Summerland will start reopening some other outdoor spaces and facilities.

  • May 15 – Skatepark (dawn to dusk).
  • May 16 – Outdoor washrooms (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) at Peach Orchard Beach, Rotary Beach, Memorial Park.
  • May 23 – Powell Beach Park gate and outdoor washroom (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • May 23 – Powell Beach Park tennis courts
  • May 23 – Peach Orchard campground pickleball and multi-use courts
  • June 1 – Peach Orchard campground

The district said visitors are expected to ensure physical distancing and to not visit those places if you’re sick or experiencing symptoms.

Other District park amenities such as playgrounds, the spray park, basketball courts, volleyball courts and Giant’s Head Mountain park gate are closed, as well as organized sports and park rentals until enhanced protocols have been determined.

The Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre and Arena also remain closed.

The district added that if overcrowding or other issues arise during the reopening phases, the district may close those spaces.

“Enhanced cleaning protocols and educational signage will be put in place for public washrooms,” said Summerland chief administration officer Anthony Haddad.

“Bylaw Enforcement staff will be monitoring all parks and amenities over the May long weekend to ensure protocols in place are respected.”

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