Dear FCRCC members,
It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly June, and in March the Executive had to take an incredibly difficult decision to suspend club operations. The Executive has spent numerous hours each week since then meeting and planning on how we can get back out on the water – and we’re getting closer to a point where many more of us can do what we live to do: paddle.
We wanted to give you an update on the club and how we’re taking steps towards re-opening. Please take a moment to read this full update:
Phase 1: Private Boat Access (May 19)
As members may be aware, starting on May 19 we are opening limited hours for private boat owners to access the Burrard compound. Initially, private boat owners must make reservations to access their boats. The Burrard compound will be crewed by staff and volunteers to increase safety, and we are asking boat owners to wear masks while in the compound and bring their own safety equipment.
In the next 1-3 weeks, we hope to demonstrate that we can safely navigate the stormy COVID-19 situation with private boat owners, and then move on to re-activating more of the club. Because only a small number of our members are private boat owners, we want to test our safe re-opening policies with them before moving on to a larger and more complex membership.
Phase 2: Flatwater (Target: end of May, early June)
Provided that we get through a week of managed access to private boats without major issues, we then want to start to re-activate the Flatwater program. Activities will be overseen by our excellent Flatwater coaching crew with safety in mind through small numbers and staggered starts. We’re awaiting confirmation from Canoe and Kayak BC that plans to reactivate are acceptable to the Ministry of Health, and hope to be able to share exciting news soon.
Phase 3: Club solo boats and marathons (Target: early-mid June)
If we can demonstrate success with our private boat owners, we hope to be able to implement similar policies for safe access of club boats (reservations, supervision of boat sheds) to solo club boats at Burrard and Alder Bay. As we do this, we hope to be able to create flexibility for private boat owners to access their boats while creating a structure where members can be assured they have an OC-1 (or other solo boat) waiting for them and not be expected to wait, socially distant, until one is available.
Members wishing to access club boats will be asked to make a reservation for a boat online and wear a mask in the boat shed, along with bringing safety equipment to keep themselves safe.
We also anticipate that marathon canoes and OC-2s may be available for use in some circumstances.
Phase 4: OC-6 and Dragon Boat (Target: TBD)
We are still monitoring provincial government guidance to find out how we can successfully and safely re-activate OC-6 and dragon boat programs. We’ll keep members informed as we learn more.
What we need to successfully re-open
In order to successfully re-open, we need to demonstrate that we have the right protocols, policies, and procedures in place to do it safely. While we’re a recreational paddling club, we’re also a workplace for our permanent and seasonal staff, and staff we’re bringing on to help with safety during the re-opening. Each phase of our plan is intended to demonstrate success and allow us to get to the next phase of re-opening.
We’re test-driving a reservation and supervision protocol with our private boat owners to iron out the problems before we move that program over to club boats, so we inconvenience the smallest number of people possible. We need their cooperation to help build a system that will work for OC-1s. Once we’ve done that, we can make flexibility a goal for private boat owners while re-opening club boats.
While we know that the policies are being seen by some members as overly restrictive, they’re intended to keep members – and our staff – safe. As with the entire country, we’re working out how to put into place operational and administrative strategies to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.
We will likely need to use staff time (including seasonal employees we would normally use for summer camps) to clean club boats in between uses – but this will come at a cost and a departure from the old way of using boats whenever we had time. Unfortunately, this is the reality we’re in – at the moment. Because our boat sheds and compounds will be workplaces, we will be required to have a comprehensive COVID-19 risk management system in place, to keep all members and staff safe.
The FCRCC needs your patience and understanding as we develop a pathway to re-opening. Right now, our policies seem awkward, clunky, and not as free as they used to. So do grocery stores, where we have to queue before entering, follow one-way lines, and have limits on what we can buy – but paddling is more fun than buying lettuce, right?
Much like a canoe only goes forward fast when everyone is paddling together, we need all members of the FCRCC to work together. Our policies won’t be perfect the first time around, and we need to test them to find out where the problems are. As the Executive, we would prefer that we err on the side of restriction and caution, instead of erring in a way that risks our members, our staff, or our club.
We will share more information when we’re able – hoping soon.
A special note to dragon boaters and OC-6 programs
We’re all aware of the large number of race cancellations, including Concord, the FCRCC Knockout and the Women’s Regatta, and a number of CORA events. The FCRCC Executive wants all dragon boaters and OC-6 paddlers to know we’re there with you, and trying to find a way to get more people on the water in a safe manner.