Caution tape surrounds playground equipment throughout the North Okanagan amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Langley Advance Times)

Tape or no tape: Armstrong parks remain closed due to COVID-19

An individual, or individuals, continue to take caution tape down from Armstrong parks

Caution tape surrounding parks in Armstrong have been removed by a member, or members, of the public, but Armstrong Spallumcheen Parks and Recreations reassured residents the parks remain closed to the public due to COVID-19.

Over the past week, parks and recreation staff have had to hang new tape at least once a day, general manager Lars Larsen said.

“We don’t know who or why someone is taking the tape down,” he said. “We don’t see a lot of social gatherings in Armstrong, which is a good thing.”

The tape, he said, was put up as a reminder to the people the parks, including Memorial Park, are closed as directed by health experts from both the provincial and federal level.

“We haven’t changed our policies,” he said, noting the public would be informed when parks do reopen.

In the neighbouring municipality of Coldstream, all parks, beaches, parking lots and public spaces were closed March 23 in support of the public gathering orders and social distancing measures put in place by the provincial medical health officer over COVID-19.

This includes the Greater Vernon Athletic Park, Kal Beach, the Okanagan Rail Trail parking lot and surrounding areas at the intersection of West Kal and Kickwillie Roads and Kalamalka Provincial Park and parking areas within the District of Coldstream.

Coldstream residents are encouraged to walk trails and roads in their own neighbourhoods, while respecting social distancing.

At the April 8 meeting of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC), it was decided that parks and trails within the Greater Vernon area, excluding the District of Coldstream, would remain open to the public, but once again, residents are encouraged to stick to the pathways in their own neighbourhoods.

“We have a large network of trails in the Greater Vernon area,” he said. “Instead of visiting the busiest trails, like the Okanagan Rail Trail, we encourage you to discover something new and that is preferably in your neighbourhood.”

GVAC committee members observed groups of people gathering at the Greater Vernon Athletic Park in Coldstream before the April 8 meeting, despite the facility’s closure and provincial orders to maintain physical distancing of at least two metres.

After the GVAC meeting, fences and closure signs have been placed at the park to further enforce the closure, the Regional District of North Okanagan said.

“We all absolutely must maintain physical distancing while using parks and trails,” Mund said. “Our decision to keep them open to the public does not mean we are not prepared to close them if people are clearly and consistently violating these measures.”

The RDNO is also reminding drivers to be extra vigilant as the number of pedestrians and cyclists increase.

GVAC’s decisions to keep parks open for now applies to the RDNO-owned portion of the rail trail — which is still under erosion work Monday through Friday — Grey Canal Trail, Kal Crystal Waters Trail, Middleton Mountain Trail, Swan Lake Nature Reserve and BX Creek Trail.

Parks and public spaces in Vernon remain open for the time being, but playground equipment has been taped off to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. All indoor recreation facilities remain closed until further notice.

READ MORE: Coldstream closes public places

READ MORE: COVID-19: Parks to stay open in Greater Vernon for now

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