District of Squamish (DOS) recreation amenities such as tennis courts and skate parks are starting to reopen after being closed because of COVID-19 precautions.
Director of public works Bob Smith said he and his crews are setting to work to safely reopen facilities as quickly as possible.
"We're a little short-staffed, so it's a bit challenging to get everything done at once," he said. "We started with some of the high-demand-slash-easier ones to reintroduce."
Smith said the three skate parks were at the top of the list, since users were removing the signage daily.
"They were very challenging sites to keep closed. The signs would end up thrown off in the bush, so that was actually an easy one," he said. "The joke we had is that the kids pretty much opened it for themselves."
Also a priority was responding to high demand for local tennis and pickleball courts Brennan Park opened late last week while Eaglewind Park followed shortly after.
Smith noted that the court on The Boulevard is expected to open next week as crews repair the playing surface.
"The Boulevard [court] has got some structural problems. There have been some tree roots that have come up and just made a really rough surface in the playing area," he said. "We had... staff in there last week and over the weekend, and they're still up there periodically.
"We have to pour concrete and then we have to put a special surface material in there to resurface the patches that we did."
Players will be required to: play singles only unless partners are from the same household; mark their own balls and touch only those; and touch only their own rackets.
"We're really counting on the parents and the users to monitor themselves," he said.
As for playgrounds, Stan Clarke Park was the first to reopen late last week. Smith hopes to have the full slate reopened early next week.
Smith said the reopening procedures take the form of an in-depth annual inspection, which typically takes place around this time of year.
"In the spring, we do a more formal inspection," he said. "[In] the annual inspection, we actually get on every nut, bolt, screw.
"We also do a pressure wash just to get any moss or bird droppings off.
"They're fully ready. They're completely inspected and we know that they're safe."
Smith added that bike hubs are open, complete with portapotties at locations that had them previously.
At all sites, visitors are told not to loiter and to wash their hands before and after play. Users must bring their own sanitizer, as Smith said the DOS made it available, but it was often removed shortly after.
The DOS is also bringing back some recreation programming at four parks as it employs a neighbourhood-hub model: Pat Goode Park, McNaughton Park, Junction Park and Eagle Run Park. DOS general manager of community services Natasha Golbeck said outdoor programming is the first order of the day, with a "soft launch" of light programming at the neighbourhood level having started on May 19.
Fresh Air Fun, for kids aged six to 12, comprises of fun physical-literacy activities and seniors-oriented strength and pole walking and nature walk programming is also on tap.
Golbeck said it was important to first bring back services for people in those demographics.
"Those are the core, critical areas, especially kids who are school-aged who are used to having a lot of structure in their lives," she said.
Other outdoor activities that Golbeck expects to be introduced next are yoga and tai chi. Eventually, indoor activities will be slowly brought back.
"There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that has to happen to reopen. It's not a matter of reopening the doors and telling people to stay far apart," said Golbeck, noting that the WorkSafeBC review of the DOS' amended plans and procedures is critical. "Luckily, it's summer, and so we can do quite a bit outside right now."
For complete details, visit https://squamish.ca/recreation/recreation-programs-activities-and-facilities/programs-and-activities/