Fresh air is imperative for mental health – but a few bad apples made authorities feel they had no choice but to close parks. Ada Slivinski wonders if this isn’t a net negative.
Over the past week or so, my daughter has been learning to ride her bike without training wheels.
At the early stages, riding on the road or sidewalk was still a little iffy, so we sought out a safe paved open space. With the tennis nets taken down at a local park, that was our first stop – but the gates were padlocked, blocking access entirely.
Around the corner was a basketball court. The net itself was taped off but the court was open; it would do. On our second visit to the court and just when my daughter was starting to get the hang of balancing on two wheels, our practice was interrupted by a City of North Vancouver staffer, telling us to get off the court; the area was closed.
Of course it makes sense that organized sports and pickup games between people not sharing the same household are banned right now. But for families or roommates looking to get some exercise, tennis or basketball should still be an option. It’s hard to imagine a sport with more physical distance and less contact than singles tennis.
The City of Vancouver has just launched a City Parks Ambassador program. “Our team of ambassadors will be in our parks and on our trails everyday keeping an eye out for physical distancing,” reads the City’s website noting all the current closures. The same page also encourages reporting of compliance concerns to bylaw.
“It is important to get outside a little bit now and then, and to make sure that you get some exercise, you get some fresh air. I think that is important for all of our mental and physical health,” said provincial health officer Bonnie Henry in a press conference. “Go for a walk with your children, go to the park with your children, but don’t have a playdate.”
The problem is that with BC Parks and outdoor sports facilities closed, there are fewer and fewer places to do that. In Vancouver and Victoria and surrounding areas, many live in small condos and homes without outdoor spaces. They rely on public space to for fresh air and exercise. Most nearby hikes are now out of the question. Other spots, like Vancouver’s seawall, are a gamble with kids, since it can be tough to maintain adequate distance in the relatively narrow space.
At this point we should be maximizing the outdoor recreation space, not restricting it. Exercise and fresh air are important for both mental and physical health. With people stuck inside their homes most of the time, it’s more important than ever that they are able to get outside safely.
If people are going to shirk social distancing, they’re going to do it anyway. All parks and recreation spaces shouldn’t be closed just because some people cannot – and will not – follow the rules.
Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at email@example.com
- Ada Slivinski previously wrote about how small businesses that have remained open have had to adapt on the fly.
- When you do spend your dollars, spend them locally, urges Jody Vance.
- Your daily dose of non-Coronavirus content: last April, Bob Price warned about the upcoming hiking season (ouch) and the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease.