Castlegar residents will notice a visible reduction of service in the city’s parks and green spaces this year.
In April, city council decided to create a $361,000 COVID-19 revenue stabilization fund to off set an expected decline in revenues. Over $52,000 of the new fund came from money originally budgeted to hire summer students this year.
Summer students usually carry out a number of tasks relating to park operations including push mowing small parks, weed whipping, weeding of city flower beds and supporting Castlegar Communities in Bloom.
The reduced staffing level for this summer means reduced services at local parks, boulevard spaces and other green spaces maintained by the city. Changes include reduced watering and fertilization at smaller parks and reduction to the number of times parks will be mowed.
“The absence of the summer students will be seen by the public, but most felt by our parks staff,” said Castlegar’s director of municipal services Patrick Gauvreau at the May 19 city council meeting.
In addition to the reduction in staff resulting from the loss of summer students, parks crews will also need to keep up with more stringent washroom cleaning standards resulting from COVID-19 guidelines. One full-time employee and one part-time seasonal employee will be exclusively assigned to cleaning and disinfecting Millennium, Kinsmen and Kinnaird Park washrooms.
Council expressed a desire to ensure the public is informed that the reduction in services is due to a decision council made and doesn’t reflect on the efforts of staff.
“This was our decision, not them,” said councillor Maria McFaddin. “They can’t do a better job … because we have tied their hands. I want to make sure it comes back on us, not on them.”