The City of Vernon’s Recreation Services is bringing back indoor walking at Kal Tire Place, with public skating also in the works over the Christmas holidays. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

The City of Vernon’s Recreation Services is bringing back indoor walking at Kal Tire Place, with public skating also in the works over the Christmas holidays. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Vernon rec hard hit in pandemic

Cancellations and closures see expected drops in fourth-quarter report

Vernon’s recreational offerings were among the hardest hit by COVID-19.

Orders from the province’s top doc cancelled all services offered by the City of Vernon’s Recreation Services March 19, 2020. But when B.C. moved into Phase 3 of its Re-Opening Plan, Rec Services could once again reopen its doors, with limited programs and services, in the fourth quarter.

“What we have overcome is some big challenges and we should celebrate what we were able to do,” director of recreation services Doug Ross said.

Revenues were down $1.175 million, but expenses were trimmed to match the decline.

“We had to re-evaulate what our priorities were,” Ross said in his report to council Monday, Jan. 25.

With three lakes in the area, swimming was a priority.

Pre-registered swim opportunities were made available to the public in mid-October and 10,000 Vernonites took advantage of some pool time amid the pandemic — a 75 per cent decrease from the same time last year. Last fall, the Vernon Aquatic Centre saw closer to 42,000 pool patrons.

Provincial health orders cancelled the hockey season for adult players while limiting gameplay and travel, leaving Vernon’s arena in a lurch with a 20 per cent decline from the year before with only 2,322 hours booked ($221,976).

Events such as Shoparama, Ski Swap, Halina Christmas Dinner and the World Religious Peace Conference were cancelled.

User groups booked a total of 1,108 hours in Rec Service’s meeting spaces for $12,884, a 42 per cent drop from the year before. Meanwhile, only 894 hours were booked for the gym ($17,263), a 19 per cent drop.

Recreation’s Playschool saw a 29 per cent decrease or about 46 fewer participants, albeit offerings were available only two weeks compared to nearly three months the year before.

After School Programs were hard hit with an 80 per cent decrease from fall 2019. Programs were kept small and safe with only eight kids for eight weeks, compared to the usual 40 kids over 14 weeks.

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