Playgrounds to reopen in Calgary on Friday, Stephen Avenue to be pedestrian only
CALGARY -- Playgrounds in Calgary will begin to reopen on Friday, three days ahead of schedule, but it will take a few days for them to be inspected and have closure signage removed, city officials said during a regular update on Thursday.
With more than 1,100 playgrounds in the city that have to be inspected, Calgary Emergency Management Agency Deputy Chief Sue Henry says the work should be completed by June 3. You'll know that a playground is deemed open as caution tape will be removed and signage will be in place about safety and distancing.
Calgarians are asked not to remove caution tape that was placed on city-owned playground equipment when they were closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Regional playgrounds will be opened first," said Henry. "These playgrounds are designed to serve more than one community. These are playgrounds like Bowness Park, Riley Park and Stanley Park."
Henry said she expects most parks will be inspected and reopened by June 3.
Parks and sports fields are also back open, however team sports are not allowed to compete. Field users must stay at least two metres away from others and shouldn't touch the same ball or sports equipment — or each other.
And starting on Friday, Stephen Avenue will be made pedestrian and cyclist only between 11 a.m. and 6 a.m. each day, which will allow businesses offering dine-in service to expand patios so people can spread out more.
"The basic principle here is to just help support those businesses," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "Because the restaurants are operating at lower capacity, they need those patios ... in order to have them have more patrons available for them. So the patios are going to go right to the edge of the sidewalks and what is now the driving lane will become the pedestrian and cyclist lane."
Nenshi added he wants to make one thing crystal clear.
"This is not a street festival, this is not summer party on Stephen Avenue, it's not a place to come hang out on the street, there's not enough room," he said."What this is about is supporting those local businesses, so if you want to be able to come have dinner or lunch sitting on one of those patios, this is the time to do that, but do make reservations first, see that there is room for you."
With warm weather expected this weekend, Nenshi again urged Calgarians to continue physical distancing. Earlier this week, Nenshi said Calgarians have been doing a good job of keeping distance from others and urged people "don't be like Toronto," where photos have shown large crowds congregating in parks.
"You cannot say, 'Hmmm, the parachute is slowing my fall, I guess I can take the parachute off now,' the key is to come in for that safe landing, so I'm really encouraging you to be disciplined."
Outdoors gatherings in Alberta are limited to 50 people while indoor gatherings are capped at 15 people. Albertans are encouraged to stay at least two metres away from other people while in public and to wear a mask when that isn't possible.
City officials have been giving updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, while the province has moved to giving updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.