Saanich council will consider a report from Coun. Zac de Vries calling for up to six park shelters to be added across the municipality to extend park-use into the rainy season. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich council to look at adding park shelters for safe outdoor socializing during adverse weather

Covered areas would permit safe socializing during ‘endless rain’ season, resident says

People found ways to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for many, that has meant moving their social activities outdoors.

As the South Island braces for its annual fall rain and grey skies, some are pushing for shelters to be added to public areas so outdoor activities can continue.

On Sept. 14, Saanich council will receive a report from Coun. Zac de Vries calling for the installation of up to six outdoor shelters to “support a diversity of activities” in parks during the adverse fall weather.

READ ALSO: B.C. to shut down nightclubs, banquet halls; limit late-night alcohol sales at bars

De Vries explained that park use in Saanich has always been high but has gone up during the pandemic because being outdoors is said to be an effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. He noticed “an explosion of use this summer” as people used their parks as gyms, meeting places, dinner spots and sports.

Retrofitting parks with permanent or temporary shelters and coverings would allow park use to extend into the rainy season, de Vries said, adding that he feels it could be done in a cost-effective way while still creating “legacy pieces” that will mark this time in history.

READ ALSO: Real estate sales across southern Vancouver Island hit new record in August

The report comes after de Vries heard from community members calling for these covered areas in parks. Tillicum-area resident Elise Cote said she realized that outdoor shelters were necessary when a friend mentioned that she’d begun working out in parks rather than at her indoor gym but was worried that adverse weather would push her back indoors.

Many activities moved outside for the summer, but with the “winter dread” approaching, Cote wonders if people will continue to stay connected outdoors or if they’ll just stay inside.

READ ALSO: Uber expected in Victoria by early winter

de Vries also asked the mayor write to the owners of shopping malls and centres asking them to consider installing shelters on their properties for social activities.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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