Arenas around the B.C. Hockey League, like Kal Tire Place in Vernon, sit empty and silent after the league followed many such leagues around North America and postponed or canceled its season in the wake of COVID-19. (Vernon Vipers photo)

Arenas around the B.C. Hockey League, like Kal Tire Place in Vernon, sit empty and silent after the league followed many such leagues around North America and postponed or canceled its season in the wake of COVID-19. (Vernon Vipers photo)

Vernon Recreation Services hit hard by COVID-19

Vernon’s recreational facilities lost $146,750 from bookings alone

The City of Vernon’s first quarterly Recreation Services report look a bit off due to mandatory closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but director Doug Ross said they are off to a good start.

“This quarterly report will be unique and one that hopefully will not need to be repeated again in the future,” Ross wrote to council. “As the concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus increased in February and March, programs and attendance began to be impacted.”

In March, the province declared a public state of emergency and the Provincial Health Officer banned gatherings of more than 50 people.

On March 19, all recreation facilities in Vernon were closed and the programs offered to Greater Vernon-area citizens cancelled.

“The numbers for participation, bookings and revenue all reflect the impact COVID-29 has had on Recreation Services in the first quarter,” Ross said.

In total, recreational facilities lost $146,750 from bookings alone.

COVID-19 cancelled bookings including end-of-season practices, games, tournaments for hockey, ringette, figure skating and speed skating; the Vipers playoff games for at least one more round and other major events like the Vernon Home Show, the Spring Expo, Seedy Saturday and more.

On top of that, seven spring break camps were kaput affecting 112 kids, or 560 user visits; 10 Aquafit classes (200-plus user visits), 16 Drop-In Sports Sessions (260-plus visits) and 22 swimming lessons (1,330 user visits).

“With all of the negative news that we are experiencing,” Ross wrote. “This is a good time to remind the community why we do what we do at Recreation Services.”

The Greater Vernon Recreation Master Plan identified 73 per cent of survey respondents said rec is a “must have” service, while 21 said they somewhat agree. Online, 84 per cent said they strongly agree. Residents wrote in saying, “recreation contributes to civic pride,” and “recreation helps strengthen and bring the community together.”

READ MORE: Vernon hospital staff applaud Okanagan Spirits for gift of clean hands

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. records four new deaths as hospitalizations dip below 100


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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