City of Vancouver facilities and more around the city close as COVID-19 response

As classes move online, recreational activities and institutions around Vancouver are also closing as the government tightens measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in BC. Here’s a list of what’s closing:

Vancouver Public Library, Civic Theatre and Park Board facilities

In a news release, the City of Vancouver announced a list of closures, effectively immediately, that includes all Vancouver Public Library (VPL) and Civic Theatre locations. VPL’s digital services will remain available, along with their email and phone reference services. Meanwhile ticket-holders for Civic Theatre events are being asked to contact the box office for refunds.

Community centres, pools, fitness centres, ice rinks, and golf courses run by the city will all be closed as well, while events at Park Board fields and parks are cancelled. But public washrooms will remain open.

The Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, the Bloedel Conservatory and the Stanley Park Train will also be closed to be public. Anybody who has already purchased a ticket to any closed Park Board location will receive a full refund.

“Our foremost priorities are the safety of residents and the continuity of the essential services that the City is providing, particularly those that support residents who are most at risk,” city Manager Sadhu Johnson said in an online statement.

“Closing these facilities will allow us to focus staffing and resources on our most essential operations.”

Vancouver Art Gallery

Effective March 16 at 5 p.m., the Gallery has decided to close to the public “in light of recent developments and our responsibility to help slow the spread and impact of COVID-19 across our communities,” according to an emailed statement.

The Gallery has not determined a date of re-opening, saying “Art connects people and during this period of closure, we invite you to keep up-to-date and stay in touch through our online digital channels.”

Science World

On March 13, Science World also announced that it would be closed until April 6, in line with the break for Vancouver public schools. Although there have been no cases identified at Science World, an statement posted onto the website said that “this decision has been made in an abundance of caution based on the unique interactive, hands-on nature of our facility and our ability to manage social distancing.”

The attraction will continue to pay its staff in accordance with their scheduled hours, while the closure would be used to deep clean and disinfect the facility. Science World will also provide “fun spring break science activities” through its online channels.

Whistler Blackcomb

Vail Resorts announced that it is suspending all operations at its North American resorts, including Whistler, from March 15 to 22, with the intention of providing an update on the rest of the season as soon as possible.

CEO Rob Katz said in an online statement, “This was not an easy decision to make, as we deeply considered the impact it will have on our guests, employees, and the people and businesses in our communities… Our priority is to minimize any additional issues from operating in further uncertainty and to avoid potential crowding.”

Guests can receive full refunds on ski school, lift tickets, equipment rentals and transportation. The resort will also be reviewing its policies around non-refundable season passes in the coming weeks.

In a statement yesterday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart provided an update on the city’s response to the outbreak.

“My top priority right now is to ensure we do what we can to slow or stop the spread of the virus and to make sure our most vulnerable neighbours are safe,” he said.

“I also want to give a very clear message to every resident of Vancouver: now is the time to stay calm and support our friends and neighbours who are most vulnerable. … We need to be coming together and asking ourselves how we can help each other.”