The Burnaby Speed Skating Club has written to two health regions asking for an exemption to COVID-19-related travel restrictions it says have “handcuffed” the organization.
Kim Reid, COVID-19 coordinator for the club says recent health orders restricting travel related to sports between Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions has made life difficult because the club has members split between the two areas.
“We currently have 25% of our members living in VCH - mostly the North Shore where there is no speed skating club - that are not allowed to train with their club,” Reid said. “Some of these skaters live only a couple blocks on the wrong side of the line.”
“We have a coach that is permitted to travel to the rink to coach, but as an athlete, his eight-year-old daughter is not permitted to skate in that same session that he coaches. We have coaches that are permitted to come and volunteer their time to coach and then are not permitted to skate their own training session. We have skaters that would normally travel from their jobs in Fraser Health that are now not permitted to participate in their training session on their way home.”
The club has asked both health authorities for an exemption for 11 club members, but since then, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has introduced a new, overriding public health order on travel that likely supercedes the previous restrictions.
“It seems that the spirit of these orders is to keep the sports going safely, which we feel we are,” Reid said, adding the club has gone “above and beyond” with multiple written COVID-19 training protocols.
This includes skaters wearing masks at all time, on and off the ice.
The club is run by volunteers and has about 44 skaters and has been in existence for over 50 years. Its youngest skater is 7 and the oldest is over 60 and, in normal times, it competes in local, regional, national and some international competitions.
“This season has obviously been very different with no competitions, but the point I am trying to make is that we are not just a recreational group that can put on a pair of skates and participate at any rec centre,” Reid said in a letter to the health regions.