For Andrew Childs and Owen Argau, the reopening of Sidney’s skate park in Tulista Park near the Washington State Ferry terminal could not have come soon enough.
Since its reopening on May 21, the friends have spent hours at the facility, making up for lost time.
“I have been here every chance I have been able to get here,” said Childs, who estimates that he has been to the park four to five times since the reopening to ride his bike. “And I am here for a good four, five hours each time,” he said.
Like Childs, Argau has also come every day with his scooter. “Awesome,” said Argau, when asked about it how felt to be back.
Both Childs and Argau had been regular users of the facility before its closure, which forced them to look for alternatives. “I would go street riding,” said Childs. “I’d built jumps at my house,” added Argau.
Last week’s reopening was not without its challenges as the skate park attracted large crowds over the weekend. “It was kind of annoying because you couldn’t ride much,” said Childs.
A comparable situation also emerged at nearby Iroquois Park as its multi-sport court drew a large crowd of recreational basketball players.
Volleyball players could also be seen at the sand volleyball court just south of the skate park. It along with local municipal tennis courts also reopened on May 21.
Mindful of public health concerns as well as pent-up demand, the municipality issued a series of guidelines that ask users to “remain courteous and limit use if others are waiting to use the facility” in addition to other more familiar safety guidelines, such as keeping at least two metres away from people from other households and washing or sanitizing hands thoroughly and frequently.
The guidelines also ask users not to share equipment, water bottles, or snacks, although it is not entirely clear how closely users ultimately followed these rules.
The municipality said in a release that the reopening of the facilities is part of its “phased approach to safely reopen recreational facilities that have been closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic” since March 20.
“We appreciate the patience and understanding shown by our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and are requesting everyone’s ongoing cooperation in continuing to follow the provincial health officer’s directions and guidance as this public health emergency evolves,” it reads.
But if the reopening of these facilities mirrored the moves of other municipalities in signalling a slow but steady resumption of ‘normal’ activities, Sidney’s release also asked parents and younger children to remain patient.
“All municipal playgrounds will remain closed until further notice,” it read.
Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner