Nfld. & Labrador

It's not just a walk in the park: Municipalities look for COVID-19 reopening solutions

As Newfoundland and Labrador hopes to move to a less severe COVID-19 alert level on May 11, some towns and cities on the island are laying out their own plans.

Curbside recycling returns, parks could reopen May 11

Recycling in St. John's resumed on a limited schedule on April 20. (CBC)

Shortly after Newfoundland and Labrador announced its COVID-19 alert levels last week, which will slowly allow some businesses and parks and public spaces to reopen, other cities and towns began working on their own plans. 

St. John's said it will start to reopen parks in the coming days, although playgrounds, sporting facilities, skate parks, hard surface courts and dog parks will remain closed until further notice.

The capital city hopes to slowly reopen the Robin Hood Bay dump for residential dropoffs.

However, it will just be for household garbage, meaning people won't be permitted to deliver their recycling, yard waste, bulk items, household hazardous waste and electronics. 

On the west coast of Newfoundland, Corner Brook describes its COVID-19 reopening situation on its website as "fluid."

"We've been able to figure out alternative ways of providing most of our services, by using technology and revised OH&S practices," Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons said in an email. 

"[We] are working a plan for some public-facing services that may be affected by relaxation of public health measures—everything from our recreation facilities, tourism, bulk waste collection."

Mayor Jim Parsons says the City of Corner Brook is working to a plan for gradual reopening. (Kody Gardner/CBC)

In Conception Bay South, curbside recycling resumed Tuesday. The town hopes to reopen Topsail Beach and Worsley Park — with physical distancing in mind — on Monday. As in St. John's, all playground equipment will remain closed.

"Council is very pleased to begin to transition back to opening some of our beautiful, scenic amenities," Mayor Terry French said in a news release.

"To be able to walk next to the ocean or fish as the sun rises can do wonders for people's mental health, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the fresh air as they exercise."

Some programs delayed

In Gander, the town plans to reopen trails, the boardwalk at Cobb's Pond Rotary Park and the dog park. Residents, though, will be expected to practise proper social distancing.

The Steele Community Centre, fire hall and town hall will remain closed for now. 

The Town of Paradise is prepared to begin reopening for Alert Level 4 and has plans for Alert Level 3. (Town of Paradise)

Gander has postponed its annual cleanup from May until the fall. 

In Mount Pearl the city is working on a plan based on the guidelines the province established. Recycling resumed two weeks ago, and the city's extensive train network is open. Council anticipates St. David's Park will reopen Monday. 

"We recognize that everyone is eager for all services to return, but the city will continue to follow the advice of the province and always give full consideration to the health and safety of our residents and our employees," Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker told CBC. 

Like neighbouring Conception Bay South, Paradise will resume curbside recycling pickup on Tuesday

On Monday, when the province anticipates moving to its next alert level, Paradise said residents will see minimal changes to the pandemic response. All town facilities will remain closed, with employees continuing to work remotely. Trails will be open and designated one-direction. 

The Newfoundland and Labrador government unveiled a five-stage alert system for relaxing public health orders under the COVID-19 pandemic. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Peter Barry Duff Memorial Park, town passive green spaces and the dog parks will open. However, playgrounds, courts and fields will remain closed.

Paradise will be ready for the next phase, Alert Level 3, when staff will begin to transition to work at the town hall and Paradise Double Ice Complex.

At that level, summer day camp can begin under strict guidelines, and recreational sports fields can open to the public with restrictions.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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