Mike Hughston of the Langley Benders, part of the Langley Mixed Slo-Pitch league, moved to intercept a rolling ground ball during a damp slo-pitch tournament at McLeod Athletic Park in May 2014 (Langley Advance Times file photo)

Silence from Langley Township about return to play, slo-pitch league complains

No response to request, but an indirect refusal

Slow-pitch ball players just want to get back on the field in Langley Township, like they have in other communities, according to a frustrated Peter Zeller, president of the Langley Mixed Slo-Pitch league, who said they’ve had no response.

“We have a plan,” Zeller said.

“We’re ready to go.”

Zeller said the league went to the Township, asking for a return to play under the same terms as other municipalities; an agreement to respect social distancing, and a legally binding promise that the municipality won’t be held liable if anyone gets COVID-19.

He said the City of Surrey has allowed organized league play since the beginning of July, as have Vancouver, Chilliwack, Port Coquitlam and other communities.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley softball team plays ball, while maintaining ‘social distancing’

After Langley Mixed Slo-Pitch league submitted their plan on July 3, the result was silence, Zeller told the Langley Advance Times.

He was told the Township managers they spoke to would send it on to the Emergency Operations Centre, which was activated by the Township and City in March is response to the COVID-19 outbreak in March.

The EOC is jointly operated by both municipalities under the Langley Emergency Program, to provide consistent messaging and ensure a coordinated response.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley City and Township announce ‘Level 1’ Emergency Operations Centre

While the group hasn’t heard back directly, a report to Township council from the EOC, dated July 26, said a return to play has been ruled out for the Langley Fastball and North Langley Softball leagues in the municipality for now because the provincial guidelines governing return to play are in the process of being updated by Viasport, the agency that administers $13.4M of the provincial government’s sport investment to support amateur leagues.

“To ensure that the EOC makes every effort to ensure the safety of the community, the EOC has not endorsed the request to begin gameplay at this time,” the report stated.

It also noted that “at this point in time no other sports user groups have been endorsed by the EOC for gameplay.”

Zeller called it a “huge letdown.

In an email to the Township, he described the lack of a direct response as “disrespectful of our league, and its members.”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Provincial slow-pitch championships underway in Langley

READ ALSO: Provincial co-ed slo pitch champions decided at McLeod Athletic Park

For slow-pitch, Zeller said it wouldn’t be hard to maintain social distancing.

“The closest contact that we have, batter, the catcher and the umpires, we can maintain a six-foot separation,” Zeller mantained.

“We lost our spring season, which runs from March to July” Zeller elaborated.

“We were hoping we might get one month [out of that].”

Langley’s decision to lag behind other municipalities “strikes me as odd” Zeller remarked, adding Langley Slo Pitch isn’t alone in having trouble with the local municipal process.

“I think there are several sports organizations in Langley that are frustrated by the lack of communication.”

He was hoping when there is word, that it will comes in time to make the necessary preparations.

“If we can play, I still have to do the schedule, I have to contact the players and coaches.”

Langley Mixed Slo-Pitch describes itself as Canada’s largest co-ed league.

Around since 1989, it is a non-profit society registered in the province with more than 2,300 members on Facebook.

The Langley Advance Times has reached out to the Township of Langley for comment.

dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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