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Water fountains, refill stations to remain shut off in CRD parks despite heatwave

Hourly cleaning to current public health standards not manageable at this point: CRD spokesperson
CRD parks and trails water fountains and water bottle filling stations will remain closed, despite soaring temperatures forecast for the coming days in Greater Victoria, due to lack of resources to clean them to COVID-19 public health standards. (Black Press Media file photo)

Water fountains and refill stations throughout Capital Regional District parks and trails will remain shut off during this weekend’s expected heat wave, given a lack of resources to clean them to COVID pandemic standards, the district said in a Tweet this morning in response to questions.

The CRD’s 15 water fountains – including those along the Lochside, E&N and Galloping Goose trails – will remain shut off as the humidex is expected to near 40 C in the region over the weekend.

READ ALSO: Heat warning issued for most of Vancouver Island

Phase 2 of B.C.’s reopening plan requires public fountains to be cleaned no less than once per hour, said CRD communications manager Andy Orr. “We are at full capacity for staff work over this weekend; busy with more than full work to do in our many parks which are extremely busy,” he added.

The district will revisit the idea of reopening the water fountains with the arrival of Phase 3 on July 1, Orr said.

“Each jurisdiction needs to decide what risk they will take and what they can manage,” he said in regard to the work required to reopen the CRD’s public fountains. The CRD is advising all parks visitors to carry water with them.

Mary Rubin, a healthcare worker at Kiwanis Pavilion long-term care home in Victoria and an avid cyclist, said dehydration on CRD cycling trails can be a common hazard during a typical day of June heat, not to mention the record temperatures expected this weekend.

READ ALSO: B.C. cities prepare for the heat as record-high temperatures loom

“All of my friends are huge outdoor enthusiasts and cyclists,” she said. “They’re all at risk when they’re using the trails and not having access to water.”

Rubin said she’s concerned for this weekend given the increase in those frequenting CRD trails and parks. “Last summer was quite hot, and I remember many times being out on the trails, halfway through my water and realizing that there was nowhere I could stop to fill it up.”

During a typical year, she said, the fountains would already be turned on for the summer. “It’s just such a bad idea to have those stations turned off.”

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