Viewpoint: Parks belong to all of us

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By GREGG DOW

SSIPARC chair

It’s been an exciting year for the Salt Spring Island Parks and Recreation Commission (PARC) with the completion of Phase One upgrades to Centennial Park, the opening of the Lions Commemorative Family Bike Park, transition of the pool operations, an updated strategic plan and expansion of our partnerships with local contractors to provide a variety of new PARC recreation programs.

Salt Spring’s community parks belong to all of us. They provide a place for recreation, socializing and contribute to our healthy community. Unfortunately not all park users are respecting these community gems, by leaving behind garbage, cigarette butts, empty cans and in some cases, vandalizing park structures. Please help us keep these community spaces clean and attractive for other users by practicing in a “pack it in-pack it out” approach. Not only will this practice increase the overall appearance of our parks, it will assist in reducing the maintenance time PARC staff must expend to clean up the mess, which detracts from other maintenance and park upgrades like trail expansions.

Dog owners can also contribute by picking up after their pets and obeying signage for being “leash smart” by nature. Remember, our off-leash parks still require that you have ongoing control of your dog, and pick up after them.

In response to an increase in complaints about issues in our parks, we increased funding to our bylaw enforcement patrols this year.  These increased patrols were focused on educating park users, both local and visitors, on by-laws surrounding dogs, camping, smoking, alcohol consumption, and littering. Our goal is to ensure our park spaces are being respected and are welcoming to all users. While these increased patrols have raised awareness, more work needs to be done. To this end, PARC is considering an additional budget increase in 2020 to support additional patrols. While we recognize this funding could be better used to support other parks and recreation services in the short term, we believe that the long-term reduction in behaviours which damage our park infrastructure will pay off.

As a number of our park facilities are at or near the end of their useful and safe lifespan, we are working to revitalize and/or replace aging infrastructure in consultation with the community. We commit to ongoing consultation prior to park improvements, to ensure we have heard from everyone. As a recent example, an addendum to the Centennial Park Master Plan was made by PARC that will ensure that we retain as many trees as possible during park upgrades and we will be incorporating the berm into the new playground design, scheduled for replacement later this fall. Again, our parks belong to all of us, and your input is both valued and heard.

Thank you in advance for your efforts to ensure our community parks and recreation spaces are welcome and open to all, and for your ongoing participation in future community consultation initiatives.  If necessary inappropriate park activity should be reported to CRD bylaw enforcement by calling 1-800-665-7899.

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