As residents of Greater Victoria gear up for the long weekend, the Capital Regional District and municipalities are reminding everyone to remain responsible when entering public parks.
CRD and city parks are staying open at this time. People are asked to only visit parks close to their homes and to maintain physical distancing.
If the guidelines set out by the provincial health officer are not followed, the CRD said it could restrict the access and use of public parks.
“The CRD will continue to have a more visible presence in the parks to encourage responsible parks usage by educating visitors about social distancing, monitoring visitor use and continuing to enforce park bylaws,” said the CRD in a press release on Thursday.
CRD parks visitors can expect to see an increased presence of park interpreters, park rangers and CRD bylaw officers over the long weekend.
The CRD recommends to consider using a leash for your dog at all times, stay to the right of a trail in a single file, and for cyclists and runners to give notice before passing others.
Full details on the CRD’s response to COVID-19 is on their website.
Different municipalities in Greater Victoria are also encouraging residents to stay healthy and active this long weekend, while still observing physical distance from one another.
The City of Victoria is reminding its residents to stay safe and to exclusively use trails and parks located near your homes this long weekend.
“It’s going to be a beautiful holiday weekend and I understand the desire to get outdoors,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “We can get those walks in if we all do our part to look after each other by staying in our own neighbourhoods and keeping a safe distance from others when outside.”
Victoria is making changes to its public areas, by restricting vehicle access and realigning parking in Beacon Hill Park and along Dallas Road.
Starting tomorrow, the primary roads within Beacon Hill Park will only be accessible to service and first responder vehicles on weekends. Parking along Douglas Street and on Nursery Road will remain open with an increased number of accessible stalls.
Along Dallas Road, parking near the multi-use pathway construction between Dock Street and Lewis Street will be suspended over the holiday weekend.
“These interventions will free up space inside Beacon Hill Park and in constricted areas along Dallas Road so local residents can stay active, while also maintaining physical distance,” said the city in a release.
In addition to the vehicle access and parking restrictions, city staff will be out in public spaces to inform residents about playground and recreation facility closures, and to encourage physical distancing.
“I look forward to seeing our parks bustling with playdates and picnics again one day, but right now we are following Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Helps. “Now is the time for people to remain in their home municipalities and to use the parks and trail systems nearby. So if you do go out for exercise and fresh air, a walk close to home is your best option.”
Saanich is also implementing its own changes for the long weekend in light of COVID-19.
“We want families to have fun and enjoy themselves as much as possible during this challenging time,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes. “There are many ways to stay active and still follow physical distancing and provincial health orders. I know we all appreciate that our personal behaviour over this coming weekend will directly impact how we can flatten the COVID-19 curve.”
To help ensure the safety of its citizens, the city will close the gate to the vehicle entrance of Mount Douglas Park on the weekend, from Friday to Sunday, and reopen Monday from noon to 11 p.m.
“This closure will ease vehicle congestion and increase pedestrian safety in anticipation of an increase in park visitors,” said Saanich in a release on Thursday.
Saanich previously closed all of its playgrounds and outdoor recreation facilities, including tennis and basketball courts, lacrosse boxes, skate parks and the Cedar Hill Golf Course.
Even with these closures, the city says there are plenty of ways to get outdoors and exercise in your community. There are beaches, more than 170 parks, and 100 kilometres of trails remain open for citizens.
“Please remember to keep two metres between you and anyone outside of your household and always respect the natural environment. Especially over the long weekend, Saanich recommends citizens avoid busy areas and explore their own neighbourhood parks and trails.”
Visit Saanich’s website for more information on financial and community resources during the COVID-19 crisis.