As indoor sports ramps up for the winter, BC Recreation and Parks Association CEO Rebecca Tunnacliffe said spectators won’t be allowed to stay and watch games inside sporting complexes, for now.
“We don’t want to be shut down,” Tunnacliffe said, referring to a recent warning from Dr. Bonnie Henry who issued a caution to sports teams and arenas earlier this week after the Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver was shut down indefinitely due to a COVID-19 exposure at its facility.
“She said we need to keep ourselves safe and to focus on players rather than spectators, and so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Tunnacliffe said the BCRPA has been working together with viaSport, BC Hockey and the Recreation Facilities Association of B.C.
Tunnacliffe said in conjunction to the spectator decision, the organizations are looking at allowing an increase to the maximum group size of participants (players) at sports events.
Regarding spectators in the future, Tunnacliffe said they will meet that complexity when the current rough waters calm. For now she just wants to get players on the ice and in the arenas in a safe and orderly approach.
Ian James, director of community services with the City of Williams Lake, said following the joint recommendation of these organizations, the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex has implemented a policy effective Oct. 16 that will no longer allow spectators at its indoor ice arenas until further notice.
“The continued health and safety of our players, staff and their families will always be a priority for the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex,” James said. “We want to ensure that our facility can continue to provide opportunities for the community to participate in sports and maintain an active lifestyle.”
James noted the new policy does not affect the aquatics centre, which will continue to operate with its current capacity and safety policies, and added the city wants to ensure that its facility can continue to provide opportunities for the community to participate in sports and maintain an active lifestyle.
“Dr. Bonnie Henry, herself, has mentioned that keeping active and playing sports is paramount to a positive quality of life during these pressing times,” he said.
“With that in mind, and following the recommendation of our partner organizations, we are required to implement a policy that no longer allows spectators at the facility until we are directed otherwise.”
Tunnacliffe, meanwhile, said in making the spectator decision, a clear definition of ‘patron’ needed to be established.
“[It’s] an individual who attends an event, but does not include event staff, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors, performers, presenters, the members of a team engaged in a sporting event, team managers, coaches, persons such as referees, time keepers or score keepers and staff associated with any of the foregoing,” she said.
While accommodating spectators or patrons for indoor spaces is possible in the future of Phase 3, Tunnacliffe said this will likely not occur for the remainder of this year.
“Municipalities are not ready to manage the added complexity required for moving spectators in and out of indoor space safely,” she said.
She added it will be up to municipalities to decide whether they are ready to accommodate up to 50 outdoor spectators attending or watching a sporting event, and each municipality will be able to decide what their capacity is.
The Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association is currently weighing its options as to ways to live stream games for parents to be able to watch their children play through its Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated following a conversation with BCRPA CEO Rebecca Tunnacliffe.