The laughter of children can no longer be heard in Turner Valley’s playgrounds after closure signs were posted earlier today.
The decision to close the Town’s four playgrounds was made by administration this week as it works to reduce the spread of COVID-19, says chief administrative officer Todd Sharpe. Alberta Health reported 358 confirmed cases of the virus today.
“As much as recreation and things like playgrounds are one of the few things that we have left for kids out of school, unfortunately they encourage gathering and being in close proximity – that’s the first thing,” Sharpe said. “The second thing is we have no way to sanitize our playgrounds.”
While the Town won’t issue fines for those who don’t comply, Sharpe said parks staff will be out and about encouraging social distancing.
“They’ll gently remind them that they’re not supposed to be there,” he said. “We’re not going to institute fines at this time. We don’t need to. We’ve been getting great compliance from the public.”
The signs inform the public of the closure and the reason behind it, Sharpe said.
“We’re just asking for co-operation from the public, as we’ve had through this whole thing, to ensure social distancing,” he said. “We expect everyone is going to continue with that.”
Mayor Barry Crane, a father of two, said closing the playgrounds was an important call to make.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re not playing together, if they’re touching the same surfaces and are not disinfected we have an issue and a hazard,” he said. “That’s where cross-contamination occurs. Sanitizing playground equipment is too much work for any municipality to handle.”
The decision was made in the interest of safety and public health, Crane said.
The dangers of group gatherings become apparent when the temperature warmed last weekend and families flocked into the outdoors in communities and recreational areas, Crane said.
“Once the nice weather started to hit, just like the Kananaskis Country seeing an influx of people using those services, when you have kids that are indoors for days on end it’s that one nice day they want to play,” he said. “We just have to encourage safe places.”
Crane has encouraged his own children to go outside and jog, ride their bikes and shoot some hoops in the driveway.
In Country Meadows, the Neighbourhood Window Walk puts smiles on faces of passersby as residents put hearts, inspirational quotes and funny faces in their windows.
“You put it up in your window and the kids walk around and count how many they can see,” said Crane. “Every three days we do a new one.”
Crane said there are many ways to keep young ones preoccupied.
“Lots of people are going online and getting ideas of what to do with kids that are in the house,” he said.
For up-to-date information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta, Canada and Turner Valley, visit https://turnervalley.ca/. A mail out with information will be distributed to all mailboxes on Wednesday.
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