Last ditch effort to save park caretakers

The few remaining men and women living in Central Okanagan parks are not quite ready to give up the fight to stay where they are.

The campaign to allow park caretakers to continue keeping watch over local parks has resulted in over a thousand area residents signing a petition in hopes of reversing the Central Okanagan Regional District’s decision to replace them with Commissionaires.

Those who were behind the petition drive had said they would like to speak with the district board when it meets, and were concerned when that never happened. Now they’ve been given the chance.

David Geen will be speaking at the regional district meeting Monday at 7 p.m. and, at the very least, he hopes it will give the community some answers about why there has been a policy change.

“I don’t know why they did this or why they would have decided this in-camera,” he said, noting that even the people who have been living in these homes are in the dark about the policy change.

Geen suspects the decision could simply be because those in charge are simply not engaged in the community.

“Directors are so busy with municipal activities, that this is secondary to them,” he said. “They’re not elected, they’re appointed from the municipalities. It’s not a prime thing they face, so I think they got snowed by staff who thought they would save money and make it easier.”

The decision, he said, will likely result in increased vandalism, less early fire identification and less personal safety.

It was September when it became known that seven contractors were losing their long-standing arrangement with the regional district that allowed them to live at homes at Woodhaven, Reiswig, Kopje, Bertram Creek, Mission Creek, Scenic Canyon and Gellatly Heritage parks in exchange for watching over parks.

The seven on-site caretakers have paid a reduced rent for the houses in exchange for the services they provide.

Representatives of the regional district have said there will be cost savings associated with the change to having the Commissionaires look after the parks. Future savings will also arise because the regional district won’t have to modernize the seven existing homes, most of which are decades old, to new residential standards.

The meeting will be held Monday April 24, 7 p.m., at the 1450 KLO Road RDCO Board office.

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