West Kelowna  

West Kelowna doing what it can to keep rec facilities open

Council stands by its staff

Officials within West Kelowna's recreation department say they are following provincial guidelines in an effort to keep city recreation facilities operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the world suffers through a second wave of the virus, facilities and recreation manager Erin Goodwin told council this week the city is following guidelines set out by both the provincial health office and sports bodies around the province to ensure a each facility is operating in a safe manner.

"Our goal," said Goodwin, "is to continue to offer recreation services to the community.

"As confirmed cases rise, we understand how fast this virus can spread. The city is following recommendations in allowing only operational essential personnel in facilities.

"Spectators for all activities are being discouraged."

However, despite protocols and guidelines posted at each facility, and with a surge of new cases, Goodwin says some people still aren't getting the message.

"For the most part, people are following the guidelines," he said.

"But, we do continue to get calls and emails questioning some of our rules. Some of our guidelines are being challenged and questioned. We frequently hear about lack of spectators.

"The city is taking its direction from the provincial health officer, viaSport and the BCRPA (BC Recreation and Parks Association) when making decisions on policies and procedures including spectators inside our buildings. The city is not saying no to all spectators, we are just saying operational personnel only."

Goodwin says the city has made concessions for children nine years and under and those who need special assistance.

In those cases, Goodwin says "one responsible adult" is allowed to accompany the child, and is allowed to stay through the activity.

"We acknowledge there is a lot of pressure to offer more service, including spectators, however we also realize we are in the middle of a pandemic and, as a result, the city is trying to create policies and procedures to discourage gatherings of people at this time instead of promoting or encouraging them."

While council voiced its support for policies put in place by staff, Coun. Rick de Jong said council needs to do more.

"We are leading in this community," he said referring to city council.

"I would like to somehow in the public messaging make it clear to this community that West Kelowna council stands beside their staff in supporting the direction we are taking."

City chief administrative officer Paul Gipps promised to bring something back along those lines when council meets again next week.

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