Enderby Mayor Greg McCune said he’s encouraged by Wednesday’s updated directives on social distancing in provincial parks, and plans are underway to determine what the city’s public spaces will look like ahead of the May long weekend.
On May 6, British Columbia’s public health officials unveiled the “Go-Forward Strategy,” which will bring about a decrease in the social-distancing measures that have been in place since the emergence of COVID-19 in March.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday as long as COVID-19 cases continue to decrease, people can “double their bubble.”
Where provincial parks are concerned, most day-use facilities will be reopened May 14, and likewise for any municipally operated parks, beaches and outdoor spaces that are currently closed.
It’s a list of measures McCune views as essential for maintaining mental health at the community level as summer approaches, a message Enderby council passed on in a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy prior to Wednesday’s announcements.
“The intention of our letter was to say we’re hearing and seeing that our community needs to have the ability to access this great expanse of beautiful province that we’ve closed off,” McCune said.
McCune and Coun. Tundra Baird are currently putting together a recovery action team to help council determine safe guidelines for spaces such as Tuey Park (a.k.a Paddlewheel Park) and the RV park, and popular activities such as floating on the Shuswap River and hiking the Enderby Cliffs.
“The questions we’re asking them is, from the regulations as you see and understand them, how do you see Enderby moving forward, what do you believe we can accomplish and what do you think will be challenging,” McCune said.
McCune expects locals to be able to float or hike, but if you’re coming from far away, it’s best to steer clear.
“You’re asked not to go anywhere on a vacation or recreational basis,” McCune said. “But we haven’t gotten that far.”
McCune said local RV park could be used to house local health-care workers who aren’t comfortable sleeping at home due to the risk of transmitting the virus to family members.
“A few health-care workers I know are actually sleeping in their trailers in their driveways.”
The recovery team will be comprised of a small group of community members whose family lives intersect with a variety of local activities; people who work in the business sector while also working with the local food bank, for instance, or people with school-aged children who are also in touch with the senior community.
The goal is to have the team review the new provincial regulations this weekend, share ideas for a controlled reopening of public spaces and compile a list for council to review by next week, before the May long weekend.
“They can email us as they think of ideas, and we’ll forward those emails into a document that we’ll take as quick as we can to help see if it matches up with the regulations that we’ve been given,” McCune said.
“We think we know what we can do here and as long as there’s that direction, let’s get some people getting back and provide mental health options for them.”