Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna to open some public facilities in phased-in reopening plan

Playgrounds, indoor recreation facilities, aquatics facilities, arenas, theatres to remain closed

The City of Kelowna has announced its plans to reopen some municipal facilities as pandemic restrictions ease.

Several city-owned recreational amenities are slated to reopen starting May 15, including tennis courts , pickleball courts, BMX tracks, skate parks and disk golf.

For now, playgrounds, indoor recreation facilities, aquatics facilities, arenas and theatres will remain closed.

Mayor Colin Basran suggests Parkinson Recreation Centre could be opened progressively based on the recommendations from the province.

“Larger activity spaces could be used sooner than smaller spaces to ensure safe physical distancing,” said the mayor.

Waterparks, basketball courts, volleyball courts, ball diamonds and playgrounds could open in the near future so long as the city can meet provincial recommendations.

The city is also planning to offer summer programs and kids camps, with modifications to ensure safe physical distancing is possible and proper hygiene protocols are in place in alignment with Work Safe BC guidelines.

“In saying that, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated measures are frequently evolving and information can change quickly,” said Basran.

“We are prepared to respond accordingly if changes are needed to ensure the safety of our residents and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. We need to progress together, slowly and safely.”

The mayor said several private businesses are also anticipated to open in the coming weeks including retail stores, hair salons, barbers, counselling services, restaurants, cafes, pubs, museums, art galleries and libraries.

“It was great to see the Chamber of Commerce launch its OK We Got This campaign, and the T-shirt campaign launched this week to support local businesses. Every little bit helps and I call on everyone to support local business whenever we can so that our local economy comes through this is a strong position,” said Basran.

Similar measures are being taken across the Okanagan as the whole valley prepares to reopen.

As we navigate reopening plans, it’s encouraging to be part of a coordinated and thoughtful approach that sees the region progressing at the same pace where possible,” said Jim Gabriel, the divisional director of active living and culture at the City of Kelowna. “The reopening process is continuing to evolve through collaborations with provincial agencies and will be able to proceed as long as citizens continue to use physical distancing and follow the guidance of our provincial health officer.”

The Regional Mayors’ and Westbank First Nation Chief’s Economic Recovery Task Force has developed an action plan and is scheduled to have its first monthly meeting next week.

Some of the focus areas for the task force will include providing Central Okanagan communities a forum to identify economic recovery needs, positioning and advocating for anticipated stimulus program funding for the Central Okanagan businesses and their employees, communicate Central Okanagan needs to other levels of government and identify available areas for collaborative projects to support economic recovery.

READ MORE: Kelowna council green lights new drive-thru despite staff’s climate concerns

READ MORE: Kelowna mayor wants to expand open spaces for restaurants

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@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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