No vehicles in Beacon Hill Park or road up Mount Douglas to allow distancing

Victoria is restricting vehicle access in Beacon Hill Park and along Dallas Road, giving pedestrians more space for physical distancing to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The park’s main roads are accessible only to service vehicles and first responders. Parking on Douglas Street and Nursery Road remains open with an increased number of accessible stalls.

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City staff are expected to be out in public spaces to encourage physical distancing and talk to residents about playground and recreation facility closures.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she is looking forward to a time when city parks are once again “bustling with play dates and picnics,” but for now, people need to use the parks and trails in their home municipalities.

A statement from the city said Capital Regional District and city parks remain open for now, as the risk of transmission outdoors is less than the risk indoors.

At the provincial level, the entire B.C. Parks system was closed this week to address concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

The grounds of Government House have also been closed.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said the municipality, home to beaches, more than 170 parks and 100 kilometres of trails, does not want to close its parks, since people can stay active and physically distanced at the same time.

But if people fail to keep two metres between themselves and others, that might have to be re-evaluated, he said. “Let’s do it safely, let’s do it locally, let’s do it with kind regard for everybody,” Haynes said. “Then we can show we deserve, from our behaviour, to keep the parks open.”

Saanich has established a special team to enforce the district’s recreation-facility closures and deal with violations of COVID-19-related provincial health orders, such as the restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people. Those with concerns can call 250-475-5456 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday or send an email to bylaw@saanich.ca.

Closures already in place in Saanich include playgrounds and outdoor-recreation facilities such as lacrosse boxes, tennis courts and Cedar Hill Golf Course.

Added to that list from Friday through Tuesday is the Churchill Drive gate at Mount Douglas Park.

In Oak Bay, the Willows Park parking lot has been closed, parking in the general area has been significantly reduced and access to Esplanade Avenue is restricted to local traffic. In addition, the Walbran Park Trail between Sunny Lane and Dennison Road is closed until further notice.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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