The COVID-19 pandemic has been an ongoing learning experience for the City of Trail and its residents, and so taking the initial steps to allowing access to its parks, courts, and green spaces has been a cautious, yet hopeful one.
“In many ways, we’re actually asking for a complete shift in culture by a community and how they think about using public space,” said Trail Parks and Recreation director Trisha Davison.
“We’ve asked society to shift entirely for nine weeks, and that’s been hard for many people. And now we’re asking them to shift again, where there desperation is to go back to normal, and what we’re saying, ‘That’s not what you’re being asked to do. We’re asking you to be socially responsible.’”
Since May 15 Trail residents have had access to the Butler Park pickleball and tennis courts; the Lower Sunningdale multi-sport court; the beach area at Gyro Park; and the public washroom at Gyro Park.
On Tuesday, May 19, the city oversaw the opening of the Haley Park ball diamonds, soccer field and running track; the sports fields at Pople Park, Lower and Upper Sunningdale Park, Tadanac Park, and Andy Bilesky Park.
Leading up to the announcement, Davison submitted a Recovery Planning Report that outlined a number of key issues, concerns, and steps needed before the parks, services and facilities could be reactivated.
And while some parks and services are open, the head director encourages residents to use them sparingly.
“Right now ‘casual use’ is – go use the park for an hour and then go home … We’re not encouraging you to be there all day.”
Davison says the openings will be monitored, and how the city moves forward, and how quickly other amenities are activated, depends on the public’s tempered use and ability to follow guidelines.
The outlook for opening large recreational facilities like the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre, the Trail Memorial Centre, the Willi Krause Fieldhouse, and outdoor public washroom facilities other than Gyro Park, will take much longer.
“To be honest I haven’t even been able to fully turn my attention to it. I think what you’re going to see is an increased ability to use outdoor spaces is going to continue to be the focus.”
The Trail SK8 Park remained closed as of Tuesday, but its re-opening date is expected to be determined this week.
“What we want to do is tell people what the rules of engagement are,” said Davison. “And so it kind of follows the tennis aspect of it, where there are limitations to number of kids in the park at any one time, a discouragement of congregating on the site furnishings … and physical distancing is still expected,” she added.
“If people are waiting, you are only expected to use the park for a half hour.”
While local businesses like restaurants, pubs, salons, chiropractors, and dentists, received the provincial health officer’s green light to open Tuesday, they will have to follow certain protocol before doing so. Other services, like gyms, which are opening elsewhere in the province, will not be allowed to open in Trail – at least for now.
“There are so many factors that determine when and how services will come back online,” said Davison, adding that complexity of service, or the ability to serve the public safely with the fewest alterations possible, are factors.
“What we’re saying is, ‘We know what is safe and we know what is manageable,” she said.
“Which is why there’s a big focus on the outdoor environment and to literally watch those openings unfold, make some choices, evaluate, reorganize if we need to, and then start to open up something else.’”
The status for the city’s summer camp and outdoor programming is pending, though Davison hopes to have protocol established this summer so they can move ahead.
Close contact recreational facilities remain closed until further notice including all playground equipment, the Gyro Park spray park, gazebo and concessions, and Butler Park.
Trail Riverfront Centre library has curbside pickup available and the Trail RV Park and sanidumps open on June 1.
Commercial fights at the Trail Regional Airport are expected to resume on June 1 as well.
The City of Trail also opened its offices from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday but urge residents to call if possible.
The open amenities will require all users to follow the preventative guidelines that are clearly outlined on posted signage at each location.
For more info go to www.trail.ca/ReOpen .