UPDATE: This story was updated May 26 to include comment from the City of Airdrie parks department and a local Airdrie resident.
With restrictions on local playgrounds lifted, the sound of kids playing on swings and slides is once again filling Airdrie’s parks.
The City of Airdrie reopened its playgrounds May 22 – two months after the facilities were first cordoned off with yellow tape due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin Brinson, team lead for the City of Airdrie’s Parks department, said residents were excited about playgrounds reopening.
“The kids were especially happy when they saw us taking down the tape and the signs and putting up new signs – they were quite thrilled,” he said.
“We had people physically opening their windows and doors, people whose houses back onto parks, and they were yelling out ‘Thank you!’ That was the feedback we got, and in this day and age, any positive feedback is good feedback.”
The City operates 76 playgrounds in Airdrie, Brinson said, as well as outdoor workout stations at Nose Creek Park and East Lake Regional Park. He said the City’s reopening of playgrounds also applies to four facilities that are on joint-use sites between the City and Rocky View Schools (RVS). The joint-use playgrounds are located at Meadowbrook School, A.E. Bowers School, Muriel Clayton School and the tri-schools area.
“We did open those [four], but anything on Rocky View Schools sites themselves, we don’t have any control over those,” he said.
In a post on Facebook, RVS announced a similar relaxation of restrictions on playgrounds May 26.
Airdrie resident Alexandra Owens, who has three children aged six, seven and 10, said her family was excited to see playgrounds opened. A resident of Bayview, Owens said her family will go out to the playground at Nose Creek Regional Park early in the mornings, before school.
“I think the biggest concern for kids right now is there isn’t a lot of organized physical activity,” she said. “That was the concern for us, and we had to create our own activities. Playgrounds obviously allow for running and jumping activity the kids can do. We were excited and just happy we could take them outside to a safe-ish space that they would be able to be super active in.”
The reopening comes with a few guidelines – residents should stay off the playgrounds if they are feeling sick, continue practice physical distancing and wash their hands thoroughly before and after using the equipment.
“With as many playgrounds we have and the number of children who will be playing, we aren’t able to go out and sanitize everything,” Brinson said. “These are the key things we would like kids to know, and even the parents.”
On Facebook, RVS also reminded residents that its playgrounds are not sanitized, and urged similar precautions.
“Users are reminded to follow [Alberta Health Services] requirements for physical distancing, public gatherings, hand washing and to stay home if sick,” the post stated.
Playgrounds in Airdrie were initially closed March 21 due to the pandemic. The City began a gradual reopening of parks facilities May 6, granting public access to tennis, basketball and pickleball courts. Subsequently, the Chinook Winds Skate Park was opened May 15.
“It is summer, so I’m glad we could give something back a little bit,” Brinson said.