Despite Vernon playgrounds being closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal parks remain open for the time being and Mayor Victor Cumming said, March 23, 2020, it’s important to get outside and enjoy it, for both physical and mental well-being. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon council doesn’t want to prevent people from playing outside, mayor says

City playgrounds are closed but municipal parks open; Okanagan Rail Trail also mostly open

While all city-owned playgrounds and recreation facilities are closed to the public to curb the spread of COVID-19, Vernon’s municipal parks remain open for the time being.

And Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming said it’s important residents get outside and enjoy themselves, albeit, away from other people.

Mayor Cumming told reporters Monday, March 23, he witnessed a lot of residents utilizing the trails and playing at the skate park over the weekend, while respecting the provincial health officer’s call to maintain social distance.

“Spring has arrived,” the mayor said. “It’s good for our mental and physical health.”

“It’s not this council’s direction at this time that we want to prevent people from playing outside,” he said.

The closing of playground equipment, however, is important as it requires substantial sanitizing and large groups of children tend to congregate there.

The District of Coldstream, however, has closed its parks to the public, including Kal Beach and the skate park.

Playgrounds and recreation facilities are also closed in Enderby.

BC Parks

BC Parks, meanwhile, announced March 20, that for the health and safety of BC Parks visitors, employees, park contractors, volunteers and partners, effective immediately, they are temporarily suspending services and closing facilities in most provincial parks. That includes Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park in Coldstream.

The temporary measures include the suspension of services at marine parks, visitor centres, nature houses, playgrounds, washrooms and day-use facilities.

Provincial park visitors may continue to use trails and areas where accessible, however, they will be expected to carry out their own garbage and will be responsible for their own safety. Visitors should be aware parking lots in some parks may be closed and gated where necessary.

Okanagan Rail Trail

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s portion of the rail trail remain open, however, some parking areas are being closed, communications officer Ashley Gregerson said.

“The RDNO is following suit with the provincial message encouraging people to not gather in groups, practice social distancing and suggesting people stay home,” she said in email. “If people are out walking for exercise, they should leave from home and not gather with others in parking lots or trail heads.”

Erosion work is still underway on the rail trail between kilometres 2.5-12 and remains closed between 7-5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

READ MORE: Vernon martial arts studio offers free online classes

READ MORE: Local states of emergency to be lifted amid provincewide declaration: Vernon mayor


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