The Surrey Board of Trade is calling for the “safe, staggered” reopening of sports facilities across the city.
In a news release – which doubles as an open letter to the city’s provincial and federal politicians – issued Monday morning, the SBOT states that the city’s reopening plans have been “substantially delayed” when compared to indoor facilities in other B.C. municipalities.
Outdoor athletic fields and facilities have recently reopened throughout the city, but many indoor facilities remain closed as the city grapples with a budget deficit that could reach $42 million, it was announced in June.
The facilities have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Indoor sports facilities… are places where people of all abilities can come to and enjoy in a safe environment,” said board of trade CEO Anita Huberman in the release.
“Especially during the pandemic, access to indoor sporting facilities is even more important to ensure physical activity and connections to community – all contributing to good mental and physical health.”
The release goes on to say the “negative economic implications of of our recreational facilities, particularly our pools and gyms, remaining closed are substantial. The business community that rely on recreational facilities being open are facing increased costs with no reasonable revenue available to them. Many other cities such as Saanich, Burnaby, and Coquitlam are creating safe reopening plans by working with provincial mandates, complying with WorkSafeBC protocols, and developing sport-specific protocols.”
In the letter to politicians, the board says “denying citizens, who pay both residential and for some commercial property taxes, of this is unfair and can lead to worsening health conditions, adding more stress to our already strained health-care system.”
In South Surrey, the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre remains closed, which has led the Pacific Sea Wolves swim club and others to find alternatives. The Semiahmoo Peninsula-based Sea Wolves are currently training outdoors at Bear Creek Park’s pool. As well, in late June, a parent of two White Rock Divers members started a petition to reopen the facility, for use as a hub for the city’s aquatic clubs.
Others have been critical of the city’s plan to keep some facilities closed, too.
Surrey Coun. Linda Annis has been a vocal critic of the move in recent weeks, often taking to social media or issuing her own news releases on the matter.
In a July 13 news release, Annis blamed Mayor Doug McCallum and fellow members of the Safe Surrey slate for spending funds on the Surrey police transition at the expense of other projects, such as reopening athletic facilities.
“Unfortunately, the mayor and his four remaining Safe Surrey councillors have decided that every available nickel at city hall should be spent on their SPD,” she said.
“The mayor is keeping facilities closed and siphoning off every possible dollar to the SPD, and Surrey’s families, kids and seniors are paying the price.”