VICTORIA -- The District of Saanich is reopening its recreation centres in a gradual approach that will begin later this month.

Starting July 13, all four of the municipality’s recreation centres will reopen their weight rooms and in-person reception services.

One week after that, on July 20, ice services will resume at the G.R. Pearkes Green Arena in the Tillicum area.

On the same day, a limited number of aquatic programs will restart at Gordan Head recreation centre. On Aug. 4, aquatic programs will also restart at Commonwealth Place.

The district says that further services will reopen in August and beyond, with details being announced closer to these restart dates.

“We are thrilled to start to welcome residents back into our world-class recreation centres,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes in a statement Thursday. “Recreation is a vital part of our community well-being.”

While the recreation centres will be reopening, a host of new health and cleaning protocols have been put in place.

Only a limited number of people will be allowed inside of a recreation centre at once, meaning all drop-in services have been suspended. Anyone looking to use a facility or take part in an activity must first register and reserve a spot either online here or by calling the recreation centre that they wish to attend.

Meanwhile, Saanich staff have received training on new safety protocols, and the frequency of facility cleanings has been increased.

Visitors are also asked to avoid recreation centres if they feel at all unwell.

“We understand that our residents can’t wait to return to the services and facilities they love,” said Haynes.

“I, council and staff join them in this, albeit with understanding that there will be modifications and new safety protocols in place.”

Saanich first closed its recreation centres on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.