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Bonnyville playgrounds, sports fields open just in time for summer

BONNYVILLE – The ropes and barricades are being removed from the Town and MD of Bonnyville playgrounds and recreational fields.

The MD announced on May 26 that their outdoor facilities will be opening on Monday, June 1. During their May 26 meeting, town council voted to open their sports fields May 27 while their playgrounds will be open no later than June 1.

Both municipalities had previously closed their outdoor facilities to the public in response to COVID-19. Town council passed a motion on April 14 temporarily restricting the use and access to municipality owned ball diamonds, soccer fields, rodeo grounds, dog parks, and playgrounds until the end of May.

After reviewing information released by the province regarding precautions and actions municipalities should consider, town CAO Mark Power noted they were comfortable with allowing public access to the structures.

“We think the demand for being able to use these facilities is far greater than we anticipated originally when we closed them,” he explained. “With the new restrictions in place regarding league play, I think it’s safe with proper signage that identifies the restrictions that the chief medical officer of health has put out for gatherings. We can safely go ahead and reopen our dog park, ball diamonds, soccer fields, and play structures.”

Coun. Elisa Brosseau was in favour of reopening municipal playgrounds to the public.

“It’s really hard in our area because we have such low cases and we haven’t had any (lately) so it's hard to deter people from using these facilities,” she stated.

While most of the town's outdoor play areas were opened on May 27, some remained closed until town employees were able to conduct yearly checks to ensure they’re safe for use.

When council raised the question of when the splash park would be ready to use, Power said they don’t anticipate being able to open it this year.

“Splash parks fall under the pool category, and that hasn’t been authorized by the chief medical officer of health.”

The MD is working to get their playgrounds and sports fields open for residents to use starting June 1. Reeve Greg Sawchuk noted “the province is loosening up so we’re able to loosen up as well.”

“The premier made the statement that maybe it’s time for a little bit of personal responsibility as well,” he continued. “Everybody kind of has to still be safe, but when you go and use the playground or whatever, maybe wash your hands afterward.”

The playground equipment won’t be sanitized, and the ball diamonds are only open to unorganized play. Games and tournaments aren’t being held at this time.

“We’re happy that they’re reopening,” expressed Sawchuk. “The weather is great and the kids need to get out there and be active, that’s part of being healthy.”

All outhouses, washrooms, change rooms, and shower facilities within the MD are still closed to the public at this time.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle