Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says people are heeding the province’s message when it comes to physically distancing in the city’s parks and neighbourhoods.
Brown said he and other officials, as well as city police, have been monitoring pedestrian activity, especially around Victoria Park, since public health restrictions came into being last month.
There have been some complaints on social media about too many people using the boardwalk around the city’s crown jewel park, but Brown said he hasn’t seen any problems, and Coun. Mitchell Tweel, chairman of the parks and recreation committee, said he’s heard nothing but positive talk.
At a special meeting of council last month, city council voted to shut down the inside lane around the park to vehicular traffic, giving cyclists and walkers more room. The inside lane is normally handed over to cyclists and walkers on May 1, but due to the council decision, it was bumped up a month early.
Brown said while some have suggested the city close the outside lane to vehicular traffic as well, the province’s chief public health office doesn’t want that.
“There are seniors, people that wish to stay in their own car, apart from people (out walking) and still get the ambience or just the pleasure of driving around the park,’’ Brown said. “That’s my view, too, you need that mixture.’’
There have also been suggestions of restricting the boardwalk to one-way pedestrian traffic and use the inside paved lane for pedestrians to move in the opposite direction, but the city hasn't moved in that direction, at least not yet.
Brown reminds the public that, when it comes to parks and green space, the city has 150 places for people to get outside for a mental or physical health break. He also pointed to the more than 14 kilometres worth of trails in the capital area.
“There’s lots of space to go out there; lots of space to get out in this stressful time.’’
And, from what Brown has seen, “there are lots of people using their own neighbourhoods’’ to get some exercise.
Some people have also been asking if the state of emergency, which the province declared on Thursday, changes anything with regard to usage of the parks.
A spokeswoman with the city said it’s status quo for the municipality unless otherwise directed by public health officials.
Rob Philpott, chief administrative officer with the City of Summerside, used a broader context in offering comment about the state of emergency.
“(Thursday’s) announcement by the province doesn’t impact the city directly, per se, but like other communities, we are hopeful that it will lead to a gradual relaxation of restrictions over time,’’ Philpott said.