June 1 marked a turning point for municipalities in the Elk Valley as they announced further reopenings in line with their restart plans.
The City of Fernie has reopened several outdoor amenities that have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has now reopened most trails and parks, the skate park, the bike park, the downtown and Rotary washrooms, the sani-dump, the basketball, pickleball and tennis courts, all pit toilets at parks and trailheads, the ball diamonds, the frisbee golf course, the outdoor rink, the Rail Yard Off Leash Dog Park, and the playgrounds at Rotary Park, 10th Avenue Park and Ridgemont Park. All School District 5 fields have also been reopened, as well as the School District 5 basketball court.
The reopening of some outdoor amenities falls in line with the launch of the city’s new Community Ambassador Program. The community ambassador will work to promote public awareness and education on the importance of physical distancing in outdoor spaces within the city limits. The new ambassador will be reminding the public that even though amenities are reopening, it doesn’t mean we can forget social distancing protocols.
The District of Sparwood also saw some significant reopenings lately. On June 2, the district posted to their Facebook page noting that the District of Sparwood office is once again open. Residents of the area are however, encouraged to conduct business with the district via phone, email or online whenever possible. Those residents who do visit the district office will be expected to respect all distancing requirements and have patience with the new protocols.
Sparwood has also reopened their playgrounds for community use, in addition to their skate park which was opened last week. On May 6, the District of Sparwood announced the reopening of parks, sports fields, tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts and these facilities have remained open ever since.
Finally, the District of Elkford is also taking steps to reopen more of the community. On May 15 playgrounds, the disc golf course, sports fields and courts were opened. June 1 saw the reopening of the municipal office, the Community Conference Centre and the Visitor Centre. This district has also been working closely with the Elkford Arts Studio, the Elkford Public Library and the Elkford Municipal Campground to create safe opening and operating plans. For information on when these three facilities will reopen and how, the District of Elkford suggests reaching out to the facilities directly.
As British Columbia moves along with their restart plan we can see these changes being reflected in our communities. Despite the beginning of a return to normal, provincial and local health authorities are still urging people to be careful and to respect social distancing measures at all times.