Steve ‘Elvis’ Elliott performs for residents of Amica White Rock. Exercise-to-music programs that led to a threat of city fines due to a noise complaint are to resume next week. (Contributed photo)

Compromise reached for South Surrey seniors’ balcony-exercise program

‘In these stressful times anyone that can spread a little joy should be praised not condemned’

Daily exercise opportunities for seniors at Amica White Rock are expected to resume next week, after a compromise was reached with the City of Surrey following a noise complaint that shut the programming down.

Officials with Amica confirmed Thursday (June 4) that only the morning programs at the 15333 16 Ave. residence will start back up, “as they believe it’s essential for residents.”

“It will likely begin next week,” a spokesperson said.

The programming had been taking place twice daily for a number of weeks in an effort to relieve the physical and mental effects of the isolation created by pandemic-related restrictions, and enabled residents to participate in 15- to 30-minute exercise routines from their balconies.

It came to halt late last week after the city received a complaint from a neighbour and threatened to levy fines for contravention of its noise bylaw.

READ MORE: South Surrey seniors home ends outdoor class after complaints from neighbour

Affected residents described the shut-down as “not nice,” while a neighbour who said she didn’t file the complaint agreed the sessions had been too noisy and created concerns around a lack of social-distancing, as passersby would stop to listen to the music. Other seniors have been similarly isolated, Jacqueline Lewis noted.

Peace Arch News readers expressed strong reactions to the situation, with some describing it as “unbelievable,” and one suggesting the complainers join in instead of complaining.

South Surrey senior George West noted there is more noise from traffic along 16 Avenue all day than there was from the two half-hour exercise sessions.

“I don’t think one hour out of twenty four is unreasonable,” West writes in a June 4 email to PAN. “My wife and I are both in our 80’s and would love the chance to be led in a little exercise.

“In these stressful times anyone that can spread a little joy should be praised not condemned.”

Amica resident David Shargool, who had been disappointed by the shut-down, told PAN that residents learned Thursday morning that the city “have capitulated,” and that daily exercise was to resume in the mornings starting next week.

Friday (June 5), in an emailed statement to PAN, the city’s manager of corporate services Rob Costanzo said the city worked with Amica “to find a solution that will address the complaints received from the public while ensuring the programming for seniors at the facility can continue.”

“Effective immediately, the exercise classes have been moved to the mornings and the City will continue to work with Amica White Rock to ensure this essential programming can continue without disruption.”

– with files from Aaron Hinks

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