VICTORIA -- A popular recreation centre in Duncan will reopen its doors to the community next week after months of closure due to COVID-19.

The Cowichan Aquatic Centre will reopen on Tuesday, Oct. 13, but only a select number of programs and services will be available, according to the municipality of North Cowichan.

Eventually, all services and programs will return to the rec centre in a phased approach. For now, however, anyone looking to take part in a class or program must pre-register for the event, as per new COVID-19 safety protocols, says the municipality.

“While recreation might look a little different, we are ecstatic to be opening our doors again and welcoming folks back,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring in a release Friday.

“People won’t be able to just drop in and take a class or use the fitness room like they used to, but these changes and safety precautions will be paramount for us to keep our staff and community members safe,” he said.

The aquatic centre will reopen after nearly seven months of closure. During that time, maintenance and renovations have taken place. North Cowichan says that the renovations will be “largely completed” by the time that people return to the aquatic centre.

The upgrades include a larger competitive swimming area and larger fitness facility.

“I want to commend staff for finding a way for renovations to proceed during the unfortunate closure due to COVID-19,” said Siebring. “This meant less impact on patrons in the long run. I am so glad that our facility can re-open to the community safely and in an improved state.”

For more information on the aquatic centre’s reopening, or to register for programs, visit the North Cowichan recreation services website