To the editor:
According to media reports, tourism in the Central Okanagan is a billion-dollar industry. This is understandable as the Okanagan is a four season playground: Boating, skiing, golfing, and I am sure walking around in our abundant parks is high on the list.
The Central Okanagan is home to 30 regional parks, thanks to the fore-sight of some hard working dedicated people and generous donations from long standing families. Seven of these parks had live-in caretakers who paid rent to live in the on-site homes, but were not paid for their services. In return for paying rent, the caretakers had a contract to perform 10 to 15 duties, depending on the park’s requirements. Some of the duties were:
• To act as park hosts providing friendly, thoughtful, courteous and informative assistance to park visitors.
• To activate the appropriate emergency response where required as per emergency protocol.
• To provide two daily park patrols (morning and evening) for approximately 1/2 hr.
• To maintain order and security in the park so that as to prevent mischief, abuse of park facilities or hazardous conduct by persons using the park.
• To immediately advise the parks manager or their designated personnel of any vandalism, trespass, mischief, unsafe condition, by-law infraction or other extraordinary condition in the park.
• To open and close the park gates, unlock and lock washrooms and other buildings at the times specified by the regional district daily, seven days per week, year round.
• To log information daily in regards to these duties, including recording that all towing information signs were in place at time of towing.
• To do all things reasonably necessary to protect the natural conditions of the park and its enjoyment by the public.
• To perform any other duties and comply with such other obligations as are reasonably advised by the parks manager from time to time.
The caretakers, who have all been let go, will be replaced by Regional District paid commissionaires who will have one duty: To open and close gates. It has been suggested that we, the neighbours and visitors to these parks, will perform the remaining duties.
The on-site residences, some of which have heritage value, will be “repurposed,” but to what purpose is not known. This issue is complex, but it is incumbent on the Regional District to solve the apparent problems and put their resources behind our diminishing open spaces.
If you care about the security and maintenance of our parks, and about the lack of transparency of our elected officials, write, phone or email them to share your concerns.
Maureen Lisle, Kelowna