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Surrey relents after threat to shut down exercise program at locked-down seniors home

South Surrey Seniors told to pipe down win small victory
WATCH: South Surrey Seniors told to pipe down win small victory

Residents of a South Surrey seniors’ home on COVID-19 lockdown will be able to continue with their daily balcony exercise sessions, after the city backed down on threats to shut down the activity.

Seniors living at Amica White Rock had been shaking and grooving from their balconies twice a day to amplified music, as a way to keep active and fight isolation during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Broad testing helped Vancouver’s seniors’ homes get in front of COVID-19, doctor says

Access to seniors’ homes in the province has been severely restricted since March, and residents are essentially confined to their own units.

But a pair of complaints to the city from residents of an apartment building across 16th Avenue threatened to derail the daily dance sessions.

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Elvis performer visits B.C. seniors home for special concert
Elvis performer visits B.C. seniors home for special concert

Family members say residents were heartbroken when they learned that the City of Surrey’s bylaw department was threatening to fine Amica if the activities continued.

One family member told Global News the complaints showed a lack of empathy on the part of Amica’s neighbours.

“These people can go to the grocery store, they can go to the beach, they can go out to the Starbucks that is open again,” said Gordon Jope, whose mother lives in the facility.

“My mom can’t leave her unit basically. She’s been in there for coming up on four months now.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: B.C. seniors advocate says she wants to see visitors back in care homes ‘safely’

Late Wednesday, the city had a change of heart, telling Global News that the exercise sessions would be permitted to continue — though only in the mornings.

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Life inside B.C. long-term care homes under lockdown
Life inside B.C. long-term care homes under lockdown

“The city has worked with Amica White Rick to find a solution that will address the complaints received from the public,” said Rob Costanzo, general manager of corporate services for the city.

The deal is effective immediately, meaning Amica’s residents will be able to hit the balcony and get some exercise Thursday morning.

“They’re getting these 60, 70, 80-year-old people out on their balcony doing aerobics,” said Jope. “How cool is that?”