VIDEO: Saanich locks down playgrounds after video of busy park goes viral

Mayor Fred Haynes weighs in on need for strict adherance to distancing, isolation

The District of Saanich took quick action after a video of a busy playground went viral during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shayla Pready was at the Cadboro-Gyro Park with a friend on March 20 when she shot a TikTok video of the busy playground, starting the footage with a shot of a COVID-19 advisory saying that the playground was closed.

“We look over and you see all these families … even some dads were playing on the zip line,” she recalled. “My heart sank, to be honest. It’s hard to see.”

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The busy park and beach were in stark contrast to the provincial health authority’s orders to maintain social distancing and avoid large gatherings to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which, as of March 25, has infected 617 British Columbians and killed 13.

Within a matter of days, Pready’s video had been shared to Facebook and viewed more than 100,000 times.

“The comments were blowing up about how … selfish and ignorant those people were being,” Pready said. “It was never meant to be shameful, it was just a statement about what can happen when the government puts trust in our hands … and how that can be abused.”

But one of the people who saw the video was Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes. He directed the District to take immediate action.

READ ALSO: Playgrounds across the South Island close as COVID-19 spreads

He said the video raised major concerns – not just about the lack of social distancing but about the amount of contact.

“Surfaces can keep the virus active for many hours and then children would come and play on it and then other children would come and play on it … children touch their faces, mouths and noses,” Haynes said. “We needed to take further action.”

On the morning of March 23, Saanich staff were sent out to tape off and in some cases, lock down equipment at the District’s 69 playgrounds.

“If you see the park now it is taped off with much clearer signs to educate people,” Haynes said. “I’m very pleased with our staff and our residents who pointed out that this is something that can’t continue.

“We have to have a unified message and follow the health advice…and they are saying self isolate, wash your hands, take care of sneezing and coughing and of course that includes sanitizing play equipment, doors and door handles,” he added. “And it was impossible to do that regularly enough [to] the play equipment.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Outdoor recreation facilities close across Greater Victoria



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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