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Metro Vancouver cities closing public outdoor recreation facilities at parks, beaches

Last Updated Mar 22, 2020 at 7:09 pm PDT

(Courtesy: vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture)

Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver, and New Westminster have announced closures

Statements from cities say the decision is the latest in efforts to stop the spread of the virus

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — On Sunday, multiple cities throughout the Lower Mainland closed their public outdoor recreation facilities within parks and beaches to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver, New Westminster and Richmond made the move after social media was flooded with images of people congregating outdoors over the weekend.

Volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, skate parks, and sports fields are all closed.

Vancouver park board spokesperson Christine Ulmer says the city had hoped people would follow the advice of B.C. health officials and avoid gathering around recreation facilities, but that didn’t happen.

“Having these facilities open has led to people congregating to wait to play, and they’re just in close contact, and we want to limit that wherever we can,” she told NEWS 1130.

Crews have already been spotted taking down basketball hoops in Kitsilano, and moving logs off of beached. Signs are going up to let people know about the shutdown.

The closure doesn’t cover the actual beaches and parks, which also continue to draw large crowds, although Ulmer says that could happen if people don’t get the message.

The board also announced it was “prohibiting parking at its most high-traffic parks and beaches across the city, including: Kitsilano Beach, English Bay, Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park, and VanDusen Botanical Garden, among others.” This will be phased in, coming into effect fully by Monday.

In the meantime, steps are being taken to make those areas less inviting, with crews removing logs to discourage people from sitting close to each other.
Port Coquitlam made a similar move Sunday, also ordering the immediate closure of sports fields, courts, and skate parks.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West ordered the immediate closure of all sports courts, sports fields, and skate parks, after so many people were ignoring orders to distance themselves socially in light of COVID-19.

West says some people “just are not getting the message” and have crowded the fields in recent days.

“We’ve had to make the tough decision to close them in the best interest and safety of our whole community,” the mayor said.

“We know our parks and open spaces provide an important relief for people, especially at this stressful time, but we must socially distance ourselves and not gather in large groups – and that goes for our kids as well,” added West.

He says to ensure public safety, the closures had to happen and is asking residents to take advice from the government seriously and practice social distancing.

Statements from cities say the decision is the latest in efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Last week, cities across the region closed playgrounds on city property and in school yards.