The City of Vernon is benching its recreation services during what it calls the “unprecedented times” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city has activated Level 2 of its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to allow for coordinated response efforts during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
There are three levels to choose from depending on the emergency. Level 1 covers small-scale, localized events where site responders need support. Level 3 is reserved for large-scale events that may have major impacts to the city.
Level 2 of the EOC is used for medium-sized events impacting parts of the city – where Vernon finds itself currently.
“Activating the EOC allows the corporation to maintain operations and care for impacted individuals in an effective and efficient manner,” the city said in a release Tuesday, March 17.
The Interior Health Authority remains the lead agency in response to the community impact of COVID-19 in the region. The city encourages residents to go directly to health authorities’ websites including the B.C. Ministry of Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada to receive the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situation in Canada.
The EOC management team has already made decisions to help contain the spread of the virus in the local community.
Effective Wednesday, March 18 at 11:59 p.m., all recreation facilities will close indefinitely in order to help curb the spread of the virus. Those facilities include the following:
- Vernon Recreation Centre
- Vernon Aquatic Centre
- Dogwood Gym
- Creekside Conference Centre (Auditorium)
- Halina 50+ Activity Centre
- Priest Valley Arena
- Priest Valley Gym
- Vernon Boxing Club
- Kal Tire Place
- Kal Tire Place North
- Lakers Clubhouse
“We anticipate and understand there may be many questions and concerns that arise from the (closures),” said Greater Vernon Recreation Services. “We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to adapt to this ever changing and unprecedented situation.”
The city is also cancelling all in-person public engagement events, instead moving those opportunities for feedback to its online platform at www.engagevernon.ca.
Recreation rentals and bookings will be cancelled or postponed while recreation staff work to find alternative dates, the city says. Refunds will also be issued except for recreation passes, as those passes will be extended.
Programs that have not yet started but are scheduled to start before May 1 will be cancelled and refunded in full as credit to users’ recreation accounts.
Despite the recreation closures, the city’s doors are still open to serve residents – but calling or emailing where possible is still recommended.
“We recognize these may feel like uncertain times; however, the City of Vernon would like to assure its citizens that we are here to continue serving you and maintain operations to the greatest extent that circumstances allow.”
“The Mayor and Council wish to thank all the healthcare providers, first responders and community support organizations that are delivering exceptional service in the North Okanagan,” the city said.
“These are unprecedented times. The City will continue to provide updates on the City’s website as more information becomes available.”