COVID-19 crisis strikes out Tri-City sports groups. Recreation facilities remain open

Coquitlam Metro Ford soccer club has suspended all activities of its teams until at least March  22 because of the COVID-19  pandemic.

In a statement on its website, the organization — comprising more than 3,500 youth and adult players in Coquitlam, as well as coaches and volunteers — said it will reassess the situation then.

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The BC Premier League has cancelled its matches for this coming weekend and the Metro Women’s Soccer League has also cancelled the remainder of its season as well as cup finals.

BC Soccer has advised all its members not to proceed with any sanctioned activity that will attract 250 people or more but it’s leaving the authority to make decisions on smaller, local events to individual associations.

In a statement on its website, the organization said most matches in its jurisdiction don’t involve significant travel or more than 250 people.

BC Rugby has also suspended all of its inter-club activities for all age groups and divisions at least through this coming weekend.

“Clubs may arrange supplementary training or Inter-squad matches at their own discretion, maintaining safe and hygienic practices,” a statement on its website said.

In spring sports, Ryan Gokool of the Coquitlam Minor Softball Association said “as of right now” games and practices are still a go “but that could change at any moment.” He said the organization’s opening day celebration on April 4, could yet be “downsized, rescheduled or cancelled,” pending a decision by the executive.

Sandon Fraser, the president of Coquitlam Little League, said his organization is also monitoring the situation after Little League International and Little League Canada advised members to suspend all activities until April 6. The local league holds its opening day on April 4.

In a statement, Fraser said teams that are already practising will be given further instructions.

“The health, safety and comfort of our Little League community is a priority,” he added.

The Diez Vista 50 km trail race, that is scheduled for April 4 at Sasamat Lake in Port Moody, has also been postponed to a later, unspecified date.

"All we can say with certainty right now is that we are targeting a replacement date later in the year," said organizers Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford in a statement of the event's website.

Local hockey teams heading to various provincial championships will also have to be satisfied with their league accomplishments after Hockey Canada cancelled all of its events as of Thursday. That extends all the way from the women’s world championships that were scheduled to be played in Halifax, N.S. March 31 to April 10, to various showcase youth national tournaments like the Esso Cup to regional championships.

Meanwhile, recreation facilities in Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody are remaining open, although attendance in programs and activities at PoCo facilities could be restricted “to ensure social distancing can be maintained,” according to a press release issued by the city Friday morning.

PoCo Mayor Brad West said in the release: “I cannot stress enough how important it is for each and every one of us to do our part to help stop the spread of this virus.”

The city is also offering full refunds to anyone who chooses to withdraw from a recreational program or cancel a rental of a city facility. Further enquiries can be emailed to recreation@portcoquitlam.ca or by calling 604-927-7529.

Kathleen Vincent, a spokesperson for the city of Coquitlam, said with the novel coronavirus situation “so dynamic,” the status of its facilities could change. She said the city has already received notices of cancellations from several tournament scheduled to be held at its facilities.

The city is also working to disinfect contact surfaces more frequently in high-risk facilities like rec and senior centres, provide more hand sanitizers, post more notices about hand washing in washrooms and hose down change rooms at pools more often.

A release from the city advised, “Everyone is encouraged to do their own personal risk assessment before attending a public facility.”

Current information about how programs and facilities in Coquitlam are being affected by the pandemic is available at www.coquitlam.ca/covid19.

Port Moody's city manager, Tim Savoie, said its facilities will also remain open.

"All recreation programs, council and committee meetings, and city-organized events with fewer than 250 participants are going ahead as scheduled," he told The Tri-City News, adding the city is adhering to directives from federal, provincial and regional health authorities. 

Savoie said the city is also ramping up its cleaning efforts and posted signs reminding visitors of the importance of hand washing, but refunds are available for anyone who wants to back out of a program. Refunds will also be issued to anyone who cancels their booking of a city facility, including Inlet Theatre, up until May 31. He said evolving information is being posted at portmoody.ca/covid19.

Planet Ice in Coquitlam is remaining open for now, although its asking groups using the facility to limit spectators. It's also taking more care with cleaning and disinfecting contact surfaces.

But Canlan Sports, which operates several multi-rink facilites across North America, including the Scotia Barn in Burnaby (formerly known as 8-Rinks) is temporarly closing its rinks until it's deemed safe to reopen by public health authorities. The company's president and CEO, Joey St.-Aubin, said it will use the downtime to conduct maintenace that is normally done in the summer months.

• Are you an administrator of a local sports organization or team? Let us know your plans. Email mbartel@tricitynews.com.

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