2020 OPA Winter Sward

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.” John Burroughs

Winter 2020

In this issue: • 2020 A Tough Year for Turf • DogWaste Environmental Emergency • Splash Pad Navigation in 2021


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The Green Sward - Winter 2020 @thebleacherguys

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Green Sward the The word “sward” is defined as a grassy surface of land. Green sward is often used in other English-speaking countries as an alternate term for an open grassy area.

Board of Directors

Winter 2020


PRESIDENT, WAYNE GOULD City of Vaughan E: wayne.gould@vaughan.ca PAST PRESIDENT, JIM PITMAN City of Brampton E: jim.pitman@brampton.ca PRESIDENT ELECT, KARA BUNN City of Hamilton E: kara.bunn@hamilton.ca VICE-PRESIDENT, DARRYL GAIRNS Town of Oakville E: darryl.gairns@oakville.ca TREASURER, MATT MINTZ City of Richmond Hill E: matt.mintz@richmondhill.ca DIRECTOR, STEVE BARNHART Niagara Parks Commission E: sbarnhart@niagaraparks.com DIRECTOR, MARK DYKSTRA City of Waterloo E: mark.dykstra@waterloo.ca DIRECTOR, CHRIS KERN City of Woodstock E: ckern@cityofwoodstock.ca DIRECTOR, GENE MATTHEWS City of Guelph E: gene.matthews@guelph.ca DIRECTOR, DUSTIN MILBURN City of London E: dmilburn@london.ca DIRECTOR, MIKE MURPHY City of Windsor E: mimurphy@citywindsor.ca DIRECTOR, SHANE TAYLOR City of Cambridge E: taylors@cambridge.ca DIRECTOR, DAVIDWARDEN Town of Lincoln E: dwarden@lincoln.ca

Executive Director Paul Ronan

Message From Our President

4 5 6 7 8

Holiday Greeting

In Memoriam

Office Manager / Magazine Editor Shelley May

Healthy Eating - Winter 2020

Musings - Winter 2020

Members Page

11 12 14 16 18 20 23 26

Training Coordinator Abigail Moore

2020 A Tough Year for Turf Splash Pad Navigation in 2021 2020-2021 OPA Board of Directors

Art Direction Kerfont Designs

From the Parks Bench

Yardstick 2020

Dog Waste Environmental Emergency

Printer Mentis Media Group

Talk About Town

The Ontario Parks Association is committed to educating parks professionals and enabling them to meet or exceed industry standards while actively advocating for the protection and enhancement of parks and open spaces. Our motto “Protecting Tomorrow Today”® is a commitment to civic beautification and the advancement, protection and conservation of parks, open space and the environment in the Province of Ontario.


Bleacher Guys

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65 th Annual Parks Forum Ure-Tech Surfaces Inc.

7, 10, 19

Dave Gower Memorial Golf Day

11 13 17 25 27 28

Cover photo courtesy of: Keely Powley

GFactor Go

Simplistic Lines

Hy-Grade Precast Concrete

Contact Us

LO Congress 2020

Turf Care

60 Water Street North Cambridge, ON N1R 3B1 Phone: 905-864-6182 Toll Free: 1-866-560-7783

Email: opa@ontarioparksassociation.ca Web: www.ontarioparksassociation.ca

Submissions deadline for Spring 2021: February 20, 2021

Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of OPA. Charitable No.: 12725 7509 RR0001 Publication Mail Agreement #41066026

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Ontario Parks Association

Message From Our President What an anomaly 2020 has turned into for our parks industry. COVID-19 has continued to be front and center in all our park decisions and a common denominator in our daily operations and conversations. What our winter operations will look like is going to vary across our municipalities. A lot of preparation is going into everything we do to ensure staff and the public are safe, and that we are meeting provincial guidelines. We were all fortunate to experience cooler temperatures this past spring, slowing the start of our growing season. This allowed our municipalities to gather as much information from each other as possible, so that we could make the best decisions with the resources we had. The hot dry summer was a challenge. As the restrictions lifted, it allowed the opening of more park amenities. Park users flocked to our greenspaces. Sports fields were buzzing again. Water features and playgrounds were a blur of activity. Our biggest concerns were social distancing, volume of users in our parks, and the amount of park and household garbage left behind for our staff to deal with. The weather conditions in the summer produced amazing colours on the trees this fall across Ontario. These beautiful sights allowed us to take our minds off of the pandemic for a moment. Siobhan Kakolic, a freelance writer, wrote about autumn. Her words are perfect in summing up fall of 2020. She writes, “We have gained strength in knowing that, like the trees, we have let all the excess go and are still standing strong. Seasons will change and we will bloom again,” she continues, “As the trees show us the beauty in letting go of their leaves, let us show the world our own beauty by letting go of all that

holds us back from becoming who we truly are.”

There is hope that in the near future we will be able to create opportunities to come together as a parks community and talk about the pandemic. By documenting our stories and sharing what worked well, and also our challenges, we will be in a position to better prepare for the future. OPA would like to welcome and introduce Abigail Moore, our new Training Coordinator. She comes to us with experience from Green Infrastructure Ontario. She is looking forward to expanding her green industry knowledge working with our parks professionals. Ontario Parks Association staff continue to develop courses to keep parks staff current in their training needs. Due to social distancing, many courses are now available online. Contact our office to see how we can assist with your training requirements. Continue to check the discussion board at ontarioparksassociation.ca for polls, Q & As and other useful resources. It is important that we continue to ask questions and share the great work that is happening. OPA focuses on Protecting Tomorrow Today® ensuring the public has access to safe and enjoyable activities within all parks and greenspaces, regardless of the season. Wishing everyone a safe winter and positive start to 2021. Wayne Gould OPA Board President and Supervisor of Parks, East District, City of Vaughan

The Green Sward - Winter 2020

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On behalf of the OPA Board of Directors & staff, and the OPA Foundation Board of Directors, thank you for your continued support throughout this year.We look forward to your ongoing partnership as we continue striving to meet our mandate of Protecting Tomorrow Today ®. We wish you a peaceful, healthy and joyful Holiday Season. May your Christmas bemerry and bright, and your NewYear filled with hope, happiness, gratefulness and good health!

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Ontario Parks Association

In Memoriam

Robert “Bob”Munson August 21, 1930 – July 7, 2020

of Jean (nee Patterson) for 31 wonderful years. Loving father of Wendy (Tom), Brian (Marcia), Cheryl (Richard), Brent (Diane) and the late Russell. Proud Grandpa of Sean, Jessica, Ryan, Mitch (Spring), Brad (Marsy), Warren, James, Matt and two great grandchildren; Giuliano and Angelica. He will be fondly remembered by extended family and many friends. Bob was born and raised in Merritton, where his father was the barber. He worked at the Paper Mill, Scotia Bank, and for many years, worked for St. Catharines Park and Recreation. Bob was affiliated with Ontario parks, and judged Communities in Bloom. He was an avid golfer, bridge player, stamp collector and seasoned traveler, spending many winters in his Florida home. Bob had a great sense of humour and quick wit, he was not one to turn down an opportunity to be the master of ceremonies for any function. Bob’s faith was very important to him and was a member of Silver Spire United Church.” Dignitymemorial.com

We were very saddened to hear of the passing of Past President Bob Munson in July of this year. Bob was president of the OPA in 1964 and editor of the Green

Sward in 1969, contributing to the establishment and growth of OPA as the voice of parks in Ontario. Upon hearing of Bob’s passing, one of our past presidents provided some fond memories of Bob, adding, “He was a positive, cheerful person that brightened any conversation and any room.” We are so very grateful for the contributions Bob made to OPA during his career with St. Catharines Parks & Recreation. Our association, and the lives of all who knew Bob, have been enriched and forever changed. Rest in peace Bob, you will be missed. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bob at the age of 89, at Garden City Manor on Tuesday July 7, 2020. Beloved husband





FALL 2021 !


The Green Sward - Winter 2020

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Healthy Eating - Winter 2020 This is a lighter version of a cozy winter favorite. It will make your kitchen smell marvelous and is a tasty addition to breakfast, tea break, or after school snack.

Ginger Spice Loaf

Ingredients: 1c unsweetened applesauce 3 Tbsp avocado oil (OR olive oil) ¼ c molasses ¼ c maple syrup 2 large eggs, beaten 2c whole wheat flour (OR oat flour) 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda ¼ tsp salt 1 Tbsp ground ginger 2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg ¼ tsp ground cloves

Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl whisk together applesauce, avocado oil, molasses, maple syrup and eggs. 3. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. 4. Fold dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredient mixture until just combined. (Do not overmix.) 5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes until toothpick inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean with a few moist crumbs. 6. Allow to cool before slicing and serving. Note: Store wrapped, in refrigerator, for up to 5 days. Flavour improves the second day! Freezes and travels well.


Renee Bernardi-Ronan, RD OPA Consulting Dietitian

cindy@ure-techsurfaces.com www.ure-techsurfaces.com

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Ontario Parks Association

Musings - Winter 2020

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” Amy Rees Anderson

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets.” Leonardo da Vinci

“Getting old is a fascinating thing. The older you get, the older you want to get.” Keith Richards

Venus is the Evening Star...really bright in the low sky to the south east. I asked a local astronomy member what the bright star more to the north east in the mornings was called. It is also Venus, it is called the Morning Star. He said it depends on which side of the sun it is on. It is more to the south during the evening and more to the north in the morning. Patience is taught to and practiced by every kid [or older] when she or he gets a “backlash”when fishing with a casting reel. The lesson is so good it should be used in schools. Good problem solving as well as being patient. Here and there ...heard from Donna andWayne in Thornbury who were close to the Tornado that hit there in October as Donna was out kayaking and watching the storm roll in. They are doing well now! Loewigs and Hergott are back in town and not going to fly south for a while, unless they use the helicopter to drop into Buffalo Airport. Costeas are doing well as Dan and heart issues have settled down but dealing with some other health related issues. Jay and Jamie, fishing buddies, are not happy we didn’t get on the water this year but maybe twice as long next season and the fish will be even bigger by then!! Fishing resorts in the north had a huge upswing in customers as that was one place you could easily distance and many people wanted to get out of Toronto. The south shore of Nipissing could hardly accommodate all those who wanted to book time. I am told fishing on Erie was equally busy and good.

significantly, so reaching out and contacting friends you haven’t heard from in a while is and was a very worthwhile thing to do. The world has changed and will likely change even more. I heard from a high school classmate that I had not seen since 1955. Catching up was fun. Reach out to see how your friends and relatives are doing. Another classmate from NPC called and we had an hour long chat about ‘school days’ and how they were some of the best days we had. California’s record-breaking heat wave sparked wildfires and raised health concerns as smoke shrouded many west coast cities up to Vancouver. The temperature reached 121 degrees F and the heat sparked many wind-blown fires. At one point, 24 wild fires had consumed almost 2 million acres. Battling the blazes were over 300 crews, 1,800 fire trucks, 82 aircraft and 300 water bombers, including some from Canada. A number of homes were lost and people starting over as their properties had been burned, some for the third time, so they are leaving the California valleys, particularly around wine country. In early fall more fires broke out in Colorado, burning 7 huge areas totalling 500,000 acres near national parks north of Denver. Finally, two feet of heavy snowfall helped stop the spreading fires after burning for 80 days. Atmospheric buffer gone? Denver, CO had a temperature of 101 on Labour Day weekend, and then four days later had 6 inches of snow. I have mentioned that James Kay, a noted Environmental professor at University of Waterloo, during the 93

COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s lives


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Musings - Winter 2020 ( Continued from page 8)

OPA Conference [KWC in 93] indicated that the biggest concern with the environment then was that the buffer system that made changes happen slowly over longer periods of time was gone, and the time between highs and lows was much shorter and more frequent. That is more easily seen these days. “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold We’re destroying our Earth’s forests faster than ever before, without even realising it. 476 trees are being chopped down every second across the planet. Brazil’s tropical wetlands are being destroyed by fires [again] and clear cutting. According to the New York Times, a record amount of the rainforest in Brazil has been burned this year. An ‘unprecedented’ amount up to 10% [over 20,000 square kilometres] has been lost due to set fires in some cases, since their leader Balsonaro took office in 2018. In addition to the above loss, the Amazon has also had huge losses again due to severe drought and some being set to clear land for agriculture. Products are pushing much of the removal of trees. From cookies to cosmetics - our supermarkets are full of things fuelling the global deforestation. But now Europe is considering a new law to ban forest-killing products, and it could transform the global supply chain. Earth can’t wait much longer. US President Donald Trump just allowed cutting of one half of the Tongass National Forest Reserve in Alaska, 5 days ahead of the US election. This will make it legal for logging companies to build roads, and remove timber through 9.3 million acres of old-growth forest. This park also hosts salmon runs and imposing fjords that were protected by Bill Clinton in 2001, and safeguarded because it is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests. Native populations have objected but not likely to have much impact as Trump wants to “open Alaska,” in his words.

forested, natural and environmentally sensitive areas before turning them into housing or industrial areas. So it is easier and less expensive to develop “to help business.” Doug Ford is also now changing the Conservation Authorities Act with the Ontario budget presented November 6th after a year and half review. According to a colleague, Doug Hevenor and Conservation Ontario, which is an overall organization representing all Conservation Authorities, instead of reducing red tape, the changes may make it worse by delaying permit approvals. They have been making changes for almost 2 years and thought they were making significant improvements. The Ford government has taken on more ministerial powers, developed rules for board appointments and reviewing all non mandatory programs and services. The question is, in whose eye is the evaluation? Ford is sounding like the leaders south of us. With the rate of development, I am not sure how we could do much more or faster in this part of Ontario. Our local KW Record supports the conservation mandate and chastises handing developers an easy path to development while not examining the environmental consequences. The Ontario government slashed funding for authorities by up to 50%, and now are suggesting that they will allow developers to bypass the municipal planning process, environmental assessments and meaningful public input. This is a time we need a healthy approach to our environment more than ever. Rising global temperatures have caused a 44 square mile chunk of the Arctic’s largest ice shelf in Northeast Greenland to break off and disintegrate. This part of the Spalte Glacier has been melting for 10 – 15 years but has accelerated due to temperatures rising above the rate of the rest of the continent. The National Geographic suggests this enormous loss in the Arctic affects the entire planet, as the melting ice is impacting the saltwater ocean’s ecosystem and the animals that inhabit it, and causing sea levels to rise. In July 2019, Alaska water became entirely free of ice as all ice within 150 miles surrounding Alaska had completely melted due to a scorching record setting hot month.

Ontario has removed many of the environmental assessment regulations needed to examine


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Ontario Parks Association

Musings - Winter 2020 ( Continued from page 9)

As mentioned above, this is not the first time global heating has caused ice shelves to melt. Another glacier in August 2019, Iceland’s Okjökull glacier, once located on top of the Ok volcano, completely melted, prompting experts to declare it “dead.” Check out their websites if interested further. The Species at Risk Act evaluates the status of plants, fungi, and animals across Canada. They maintain a species list that identifies species at risk of extinction or extirpation and places them on a scale of risk. A team effort between botany, horticulture, and natural lands teams declare that four trees native to Ontario are all listed as endangered. They are the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), the Butternut (Juglans cinerea), Red Mulberry (Morus rubrus), and the Eastern Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida). Considerable efforts are being made by this team to reproduce and replant these species through collections and nature sanctuaries. “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Alexander den Heidjer

Okay, so it is not going to be easy. Buckle up, mask up, wash up, but make sure you are upstream from the herd, and let’s go. This too will pass. “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” John C. Maxwell “Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.” Jenni Young “I wish you enough, be grateful for what you have, and you can be happy if you give more than you take.”

Tom Clancy candtclancy@rogers.com 519 -748-0377

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Members Page Welcome New Members

City of Mississauga Zack Barrett

Town of Lincoln Mitch Pagetto Steve Shorthouse

Alaura Kennedy Avery Lacroix Janice Currey Joshua Pavely Robert Finlay Thomas Lombardi

City of Pickering Jeffrey Beaton

Town of Newmarket Josie Linton

Grace-Kells Consultant Inc. Andrew Harvey Niagara Parks Commission Kaitlin Veitch

City of Barrie Bill McGregor Jade Dee

Township of Minden Hills Brian Nelson Craig Belfry Janet Baker John Daignault

City of Brampton Cassandra Bellissimo Joey Lemos Rachel Nicholas

Town of Arnprior Graeme Ivory Town of Ingersoll Jaime Moon Town of Lakeshore Chad Drummond

John Preston John Trimble Krista McAlpine

City of Dryden Joel Allen

City of Guelph Chelsea Gray Heather Flaherty Liz McGee

Did you know... If you are an OPA member you can view the Green Sward online. www.ontarioparksassociation.memberlodge.com/GreenSwardOnline

The Dave Gower Memorial is always a great day!

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Ontario Parks Association

2020 A Tough Year for Turf

As 2020 comes to a conclusion, the year was one for the books. Municipal lockdowns of facilities meant a substantial loss in revenues, squeezed budgets, and staffing cutbacks. Large or small, parks departments had to grapple with far fewer seasonal staff, while trying to keep their venues up. A somewhat of a silver lining was that the public had an awakening of just how valuable parks and sports facilities are to their mental, emotional and physical well being. What was often taken for granted became so important that some parks operations had to invoke strict local regulations along with full time security to ensure that “out of towners” desperate for greenspace, didn’t overrun facilities. In addition, it was not uncommon for parks operations to get an earful from frustrated residents if a particular site was not up to snuff. Parks managers and staff deserve a big pat on the back for what they were able to accomplish with such limited resources. So let’s turn to turfgrass. July was the hottest on record in 84 years. There were 17 days above 30C, and two additional days that came within a whisker of hitting 30C. Our cool season grasses are quite simply not engineered to capably handle that kind of heat. A lack of rainfall didn’t help either. Cool season grasses can and do lose a substantial portion of their root system over the course of a hot

summer due to high soil temperatures, and levels of 80% loss have been measured, though 50-60% is relatively common. Regularly irrigated turf has the benefit of both moisture retention and soil temperature moderation. Non irrigated turf though, takes a beating. Crabgrass was absolutely nutty this season. Even golf courses who have the ability to apply pre- emergents, struggled controlling it. Yours truly saw entire swaths of turfgrass totally overrun with crabgrass. So what can be done? Cultural methods become critical, whether in trying to limit crabgrass, or to remediate after it has come up. Photos 1 & 2 show a quick, yet highly effective renovation that resulted in a much better stand of grass. Done in August of this year, a legal non selective herbicide was applied to knock the crab back, and then was followed up with a broadcast seeding a few days later. The seed used was an aggressive, quick germinating perennial ryegrass. In photo 3 (taken October 3) this area of previously 100% crabgrass was simply broadcast with the same aggressive Perennial Ryegrass, and over the course of 5 weeks showed substantial improvement. These simple demonstrations show the value of grass seed in any high cut turf situation. Additionally, the importance of fertility cannot be over emphasized. As mentioned earlier, maximizing .../13

The Green Sward - Winter 2020

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2020 A Tough Year for Turf ( Continued from page 12)

probably the best time of the season to establish new seed. Soil temperatures are warm (not hot), and moisture much more consistent. Most Kentucky Bluegrass cultivars require a good 3 weeks to germinate, so slit seeding is needed. If you are going with an all Perennial Ryegrass mixture, broadcast application will work, however areas that see traffic, or are completely bare would be better served by slit seeding. Spring fertilizing after a brutal 2020 will of course be beneficial, however it is strongly suggested that a higher % (70% +) of slow release Nitrogen is used, in particular with components that will last a minimum of 8-10 weeks. Too much quick release N in the spring will force shoot growth over root growth, and lower the turf ’s ability to withstand summer stresses. Excessive spring growth will also challenge mowing resources, without doubt.

fall recuperation is contingent upon fertilizing turfgrass early enough to ensure nutrients have enough time to be absorbed and utilized by the roots to rebuild. That means fertilizer applications in late August and early September.

Ken Pavely

For seeding timing, in and around Labour Day is

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Ontario Parks Association

Splash Pad Navigation in 2021

2020 has changed our world in the way we work and play! It will be a year that we will reflect upon with our grandchildren. Hopefully, that discussion will take place outdoors, with the sun shining brightly and in proximity to friends and family, sitting near your local splash pad. Our splash pads provide a sense of community and entertainment for all ages, so it is important to get them going where possible, and ensure patrons feel safe. Last season, there were many locations that remained closed, some that operated with limited offerings, and some that pretty much operated as normal with enhanced cleaning. Prior to the new season, work at updating your policies and procedures so you and your staff know the amount of time that will be required to implement them, what equipment will be needed, and if anything new or different may be required. Preparing for staffing needs based on these requirements is a smart way to be ready. It is also a good time to have a chat with your local health inspector and see what is required or has been updated before you open in 2021. Remember, you still have to be agile in your response over the next year, as we work our way through these unprecedented times. It won’t be long until we start to unwrap from winter and prepare for the upcoming summer of 2021. For recreation people, that means looking

at your facilities in a whole new way; how are they cleaned, how often, what equipment we will need, etc. This will all be under the public eye, who will be nervously watching and cautious for their safety for a long time to come. Building trust in your play spaces, like any other business, takes some work and transparency. Now is a good time to discuss what cleaning is, and what disinfecting is. They are different and often misunderstood. Simply stated, cleaning removes the dirt, disinfecting kills the harmful microbiology. Operations staff need to know the type of product to be used, whether it’s a cleaner or disinfectant or both, and the effect the product will give. Cleaning must always be done before disinfecting to allow the disinfectant to do its job. Some items for consideration: 1) Spacing of feature pieces - is there a way to close off certain features, if required, to create space between participants 2) Enhanced cleaning of washrooms and amenities 3) Extra customer hand sanitizing areas, if applicable 4) Adding extra tables or sitting places to allow caregivers to be socially distant 5) Adding signage to let the people using your park feature know that you are taking extra steps for cleaning and disinfecting


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Splash Pad Navigation in 2021 ( Continued from page 14)

6) Adding or modifying for more touch free activators

get onto them, to make sure everything is intact, and order any required parts early. There has always been the opportunity for bad microorganisms to affect our lives. Knowing what they are and how to control them is part of our obligation to the people who use our park spaces. I always encourage those who maintain splash pads to take the splash pad course offered by OPA. It is good risk management, builds up your work team and like any other apparatus you may operate, knowledge gained is money well spent! 2021 will be a new year with new challenges, and the more prepared we are, the more successful we will be!

This is what we know about COVID-19 and water. Whether a once-through system or recirculated, clean, disinfected H20 is not likely to carry COVID-19. As a virus, it is actually very susceptible to disinfectant, so it is not expected to survive in chlorinated water. Essentially, the virus will not be transmitted by the water. Transmission is mostly airborne and minimally contact based. The Center for Disease Control has stated that “COVID-19 cannot survive properly treated pool and hot tub water”. Dr. Roy Vore, a renowned microbiologist and expert in aquatics disinfection, stated in a recent webinar with Clear Aquatics, that proper training is the key to reducing recreational water illness as a whole. Training will help the operator understand their role in proper disinfection and cleaning in an ever changing world. Other items you want to review before opening in 2021, especially if you operated in a short season, or did not open at all, is verifying the condition of equipment on site and any stored equipment. Your normal fall routine may have been disrupted, so take extra care to make sure you are ready for spring 2021. Review your splash pads as soon as you can

Stay Safe, Be Kind! Scott

Scott Bowron, President of Clear Aquatics Inc, instructs the OPA Spray Pad Practitioner Course. Scott is a Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Instructor, and has a career in the recreation and water industry. scottbowron@clearaquatics. ca, 226.448.4020. Thank you: • Photo of Splash Pad - Courtesy of ABC Recreation • Photo of Child in Funbrella - Courtesy of Openspace Solutions

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Ontario Parks Association

2020-2021 OPA Board of Directors

‘Tis the season … for our annual changing of the guards at OPA! Actually, with things being rather higgledy- piggledy this year, we are a little late announcing this annual change. But hey, better late than never right? Just in case you are not aware, or have perhaps forgotten, our board consists of a group of 13 parks professionals from around the province of Ontario. These members have typically submitted an application, been approved by our board, and then elected at our Annual General Meeting in June. Board members are elected to sit for one term, with our terms running from September through August each year. Some board members choose to sit as a director for more than one term, and some move through the ranks of the executive, eventually moving off the board after they have assumed the role of past president. If you are interested in learning more about our board of directors and what they do, or how you can join this team, please send me an email at shelley@ontarioparksassociation.ca. Our search for a new director or two to join the board will begin in the spring of 2021. Be sure to watch your email and the OPA website for our call for new directors! Okay, I am sure you have been anxiously awaiting this moment … so, without further ado, we are super excited to finally introduce you to our Board of Directors for the 2020-2021 term !

President: Wayne Gould, City of Vaughan

Past President: Jim Pitman, City of Brampton

Vice President: Darryl Gairns, Town of Oakville

Treasurer: Matt Mintz, City of Richmond Hill

President-Elect: Kara Bunn, City of Hamilton


DavidWarden, Town of Lincoln

Dustin Milburn, City of London

Shane Taylor, City of Cambridge

Steve Barnhart, Niagara Parks Commission

Mark Dykstra, City of Waterloo

And new to the board for this term are directors:

Chris Kern, City of Woodstock

Mike Murphy, City of Windsor

Gene Matthews, City of Guelph


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2020-2021 OPA Board of Directors ( Continued from page 16)

In order for these moves to take place, and new directors to be added to our board, it of course means that we have had some people leave our little team. A very special thank you to Past President Craig Shanks and Directors Andrew Lapensee and Nadia Blackburn who have completed their terms and moved on to tackle new, probably not quite so fun, challenges in their own communities. Craig (City of Kawartha Lakes) joined us in 2012, working his way through the ranks, becoming President in 2018 and Past President in 2019. Nadia (City of Burlington) joined us in 2017 and Andrew (Town of Wasaga

Beach) joined us in 2019. Thank you to each of you for the time, effort and contributions you have made to our association. The knowledge and expertise that each of you brought to the team has helped move OPA forward. To our current board of directors, thank you for joining us for this term! It will no doubt be an interesting year, and we are so glad you are along for the ride. Together, we are Protecting Tomorrow Today®!

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Ontario Parks Association

From the Parks Bench

Adapting to Change and People’s Behaviour

say we worked through some organized chaos to get to where we are today. Now, with some experience behind us, we can take a deep breath and plan for what comes next. The list of topics that should be included in that discussion is

As I contemplate our current situation in the parks and trails sector, I can not help but make mention of the impact COVID-19 has had on us in 2020. What strikes me as interesting is that some of the proposed changes in how we do business and deliver our parks services post-COVID-19 were in fact already being considered long before the virus ever struck. What the onset of COVID-19 has done is highlight some of the key areas of change that we must prioritize moving forward. Not all impacts of COVID-19 have been negative, so if we discuss and plan our strategies carefully in the parks and trails sector— future outcomes could be positive for everyone. There has been significant attention brought to our parks and trails systems since government restrictions and isolation protocols were first put into effect. When residents heard that their daily visit to the park, playground, fitness station, splash pad and trails were being restricted, the response was unanimous —“Why?” Residents were upset and felt strongly that taking away their outdoor activity simply did not make sense. They needed open space, fresh air, sunshine and physical activity to relieve the stress of the crisis, and maintain good physical and mental health. However, it was not them being outside that called for stricter measures, but rather their behaviour while in these spaces. As parks professionals, we are well aware that on certain occasions and special events, our parks can become overwhelmed with users. So with that in mind, we expected the same kind of challenges during a time of pandemic; but that was not the case. Residents were told to stay inside, and were glued to the television, social media and/or had ears to the radio to listen to the daily national and provincial news updates. Unfortunately, they all seemed to come away with different interpretations of what was said. Even municipalities struggled with how they were going to comply, and then get the public to comply, with the new and constantly changing directives. It would be fair to

long, so I will just touch on some of the main ones I know are at the top of your agendas. This includes: Signage — Is it clear, relevant, accessible to everyone and in the right places? Are signs similar throughout the municipality or are there updates needed? Are changes always made in a timely and consistent manner? In many cases, we witness irate behaviour when signage is confusing or non- existent. Park, occupation, usage policies and bylaws — Without clear and concise bylaws or rules of engagement, it is very hard to manage unexpected activities that take place in parks when we least expect it. This goes beyond permits and extends to; gatherings, music and noise levels, garbage removal/littering, placement of tents, drugs and alcohol and overnight camping in parks. Council to front line communications — Lags in communication or misinformation can cause very negative community fallout as well as frustration for frontline staff. We are currently experiencing new changes on almost a daily basis, so it is extremely important to assess if your communication tree is well-understood and accessible to all required staff. Crew sizes and staff allocations —We must tactfully come up with a solution to this major issue, so service levels and routes of travel can return to being effectively and efficiently managed. This is a real challenge given the fact budgets are not increasing and more vehicles may be required to comply with distancing guidelines. Park monitoring and enforcement —This issue escalated during COVID-19 because our users were


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desperate to get out and visit their greenspaces. Overcrowding, parking violations, off-limit amenity usage, and distancing non-compliance were all major challenges our staff were left to manage. Discussions are taking place about how to deal with this, and include creating positions like park ambassadors, stewards and/or monitors. These employees would be able to provide education, guidance and information to users, as well as, inform management of potential issues in a timely manner. Positive and regular media relations —Whether you are dealing with a large media outlet or a small rural paper, having a good two-way communication link can be very helpful to avoid simple situations being blown out of proportion. Investing time into positive and regular media relations can save you in the long run from uncomfortable headaches, which often result from inaccurate reporting. Staff training — Sometimes our staff, although very competent at what they do, are not always equipped to deal with angry or upset members of the public and/or media. What we have learned is that oftentimes it is frontline staff who take the brunt of public confrontation, simply because they are out in the open, vulnerable. People’s behaviour can either inflate or calm a situation, so municipalities are ensuring they provide staff who need to deal with these types of situations with the appropriate training. Park and trail design considerations — New design considerations were being discussed before COVID-19 hit, but from people’s behaviours in our feature parks and trails this year, it is clear they need to be a top priority. The overcrowding, neglect for rules, and lack of respect for each other and staff has prompted planners to look more closely at what can be done to relieve some of these issues through design and good planning. Considerations like one-way trails, wider trails and pathways, more informative signage, webcams and counters to monitor park and trail capacities, placement of shelters, playgrounds, benches, and other parks structures are all being examined under a new lens.

If we can help spread users out through innovative design and still maintain a positive park experience, this may help alleviate some of the issues. Ongoing discussions are taking place about high- touch surfaces and sanitization protocols, however what we hope will prevail, is an increased awareness and appreciation of basic safe practices. We hope that both visitors and staff will continue to wash their hands regularly, practice personal distancing, wear masks where required, and stay home if ill, so we can eventually get back to a more comfortable place. In closing, we all know now more than ever just how important our green spaces are, especially to the mental and physical health and wellbeing of our communities. What we hope to see is municipalities and other organizations leading by example and demonstrating good behaviour , as we work together to manage through this difficult time. Please be sure to contact our office if you need training in your area, and we will be happy to assist you— as together, we continue to deliver Ontario Parks Association’s mandate of Protecting Tomorrow Today® .

Paul Ronan

rickw@ure-techsurfaces.com www.ure-techsurfaces.com

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Ontario Parks Association

Yardstick 2020

Yardstick Parks Benchmarking is nearly completed for 2020, with two thirds of member organizations having completed their questionnaire and audit meeting. It’s been a difficult few months for everyone involved and has tested the processes of both members and project managers. We have all discovered how easily the things we take for granted can change and have become more agile as a result. Parks have been at the forefront of our COVID response as one of the few places that remained open during lockdowns for recreation, and many

people have discovered local treasures in their parks networks that they may not have been aware of otherwise. With local parks more important than ever, parks benchmarking and parks user surveys are even more useful as a planning and budgeting tool. Yardstick parks and trails user surveys can be completed online so offer a great way to target parks and trails users and get their views without breaking social distancing rules. Find out more about what we can offer you, sample some of our results about sports facilities (sample below), or contact us for more information.


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Yardstick 2020 ( Continued from page 20)


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Ontario Parks Association

Yardstick 2020 ( Continued from page 21)

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DogWaste Environmental Emergency Congratulations to the Canadian Government on exhibiting global leadership by way of their recent announcement banning single-use plastics as early as 2021.

Aside from the direct impact on the local environment, the public health issues associated because of dog feces is also cumulatively quite significant. These issues, which anecdotally are widely unknown by dog owners and the general population, is being exacerbated as the human population continues to increase and urbanize. So too does the dog population at an even greater rate resulting with accelerated densification, amplified pressures on public spaces and the rapid deterioration of water quality. Considering the sheer volume of dog waste, it is unsurprising that up to 30% of total measured bacteria within urban receiving waters (e.g., municipal drains, storm water ponds, streams) have been directly attributed to dog inputs (Ellis, 2004; O’Keefe et al., 2005). In fact, dogs are now identified as the single greatest contributor of fecal coliform loading within urban areas (Hobbie et al., 2017 Selvakumar and Borst, 2006) with even small amounts of fecal bacteria found to significantly reduce water quality (Ervin et al., 2014) causing significant human health hazards and ecosystem degradation. The ubiquitous nature of dog waste as a worldwide runoff pollutant and its nutrient loading effect has serious and significant impacts on real-world fish communities that will be worsened under future climate change, continued urbanization, and the increase of impervious surfaces. Dog waste has been found to be responsible for up to 76% of total phosphorus and 28% of total nitrogen levels in some urban watersheds, which is more than is linked to agricultural practices, increasing rates of eutrophication and associated algal blooms, habitat loss and even fish kills (Hobbie et al., 2017) with algae blooms themselves at times producing toxic compounds (Carpenter et al. 1998). These algae blooms rooted by dog waste are not isolated to only waterways but also cause tremendous damage to the municipal controlled stormwater infrastructure. These blooms grow

This ban will be integral to the nationally declared climate emergency as passed by the House of Commons on June 17, 2019. A primary catalyst towards this ‘call to action’ was grounded by the highly publicized United Nations’ 2017 assertion on the “War on Ocean Plastics”. Today, 493 Canadian municipalities have followed suit by asserting their own environmental emergency proclamations. It is estimated that in 2016, 29,000 tonnes or 1% of all plastic waste in Canada was improperly disposed of eventually entering the environment in the form of litter. Of that, 49% or 14,210 tonnes was estimated to be packaging, including single- use plastics essentially signifying that less than one-half of 1% of plastic packaging was improperly disposed of (Government of Canada, 2020). While there is room for improvement, this demonstrates that Canadians are relatively effective at disposing plastic waste correctly and keeping it out of the environment. However, there is a huge gap between what Canadians should be and are actually doing regarding dog waste. Every 13 days Canadians negligently abandon the same amount of dog waste by weight in our environment as single-use plastic packaging for the entire year. Dog waste is 28 times more abundant as an environmental pollutant compared to single-use plastic pollution. In 2016, Canada’s 7.6 million dogs (Canadian Animal Health Institute, 2019) each producing 340g of feces on average per day collectively generated nearly 1 million tonnes of waste. Considering that only 60% of people pick up their dog waste (Swann, 1999; Waters et al., 2011), 400,000 tonnes of dog feces, the equivalent weight of roughly 3.5 CN Towers, became direct land or marine pollution.


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Ontario Parks Association

Dog Waste Environmental Emergency ( Continued from page 23)

within the pipes restricting efficient waterflow. In 2016, Ontario had created a $6.8 billion stormwater deficit because of inadequate funding (Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, 2016). As a result, municipalities risk sinking billions of dollars into grey rather than green infrastructure and into reactive disaster clean-ups instead of prevention. This means a higher risk of flooding, decreased water quality and degraded habitats. COVID-19 has heightened public’s awareness on the transmission of bacteria, pathogens, and the unrelenting need for virus control. This has rendered the health dangers caused by dog waste extremely relevant and timely across all communities, not only the 493 Canadian municipalities currently under an environmental emergency. Managing dog feces is a proactive green infrastructure plan. Unlike the United Nations’ “War on Ocean Plastics”, this is not a “War on Dogs” but rather Canada must acknowledge the gravity and scope of our dog waste problem. The Canadian government needs to increase its sense of urgency and support for a solution like that of plastics pollution. SUTERA In-Ground (www.sutera- inground.com), an environmental leader in solving traditional and non-traditional ecological concerns has developed and successfully implemented a comprehensive containment, collection and processing system specifically for dog waste www. sutera-inground.com/dog-waste-unit. SUTERA’s holistic dog waste solution has been proven to be extremely effective throughout the multiple municipalities who have adopted it. There is no questioning the impact plastic pollution has on our environment, but there also needs to be a spotlight placed on dog waste, this lesser acknowledged environmental and health hazard currently inundating our public spaces and waterways. Increased societal awareness coupled with government funded programs towards this repeatedly dismissed waste sub-sector will yield the desired ecological impact and results that these environmental emergencies are designed to resolve and rectify.


Canadian Animal Health Institute. (2019). Latest Canadian Pet Population Figures Released. Available at www.cahi-icsa.ca/press-releases/ latest-canadian-pet-population-figures-released (last accessed 13 January 2020) Carpenter, S.R., N.F., Correll, D.L., Howarth, R.W., Sharpley, A.N., & Smith, V.H. (1998). Nonpoint pollution of surface waters with phosphorus and nitrogen. Ecological Applications, 8, 559-568 Ellis, J.B. (2004). Bacterial sources, pathways and management strategies for urban runoff. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 47, 943-598 Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (2016). Urban Stormwater Fees: How to Pay for What We Need. Available at https://auditor.on.ca/en/ content/reporttopics/envreports/env16/Urban- Stormwater- Fees.pdf Ervin, J.S., Van De Werfhorst, L.C., Murray, J.L.S., & Holden, P.A. (2014). Microbial source tracking in a coastal California watershed reveals canines as controllable sources of fecal contamination. Environmental Science and Technology, 48, 9043- 9052 Government of Canada (2020). Draft science assessment of plastic pollution. Environment and Climate Change Canada Health Canada. Available at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment- climate- change/services/evaluating-existing- substances/draft-science-assessment-plastic- pollution.html#toc1 Executive Summary


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The Easiest Way To Build

Dog Waste Environmental Emergency ( Continued from page 24)

Hobbie, S.E., Finlay, J.C., Janke, B.D., Nidzgorski, D.A., Millet, D.B., & Baker, L.A. (2017). Contrasting nitrogen and phosphorus budgets in urban watersheds and implications for managing urban water pollution. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, 144, 4177-4172 O’Keefe, B., D’Arcy, B.J., Davidson, J., Barbarito, B., & Clelland, B. (2005). Urban diffuse sources of faecal indicators. Water Science and Technology, 51, 183-190 Selvakumar, A., & Borst, M. (2006). Variation of microorganism concentrations in urban stormwater runoff with land use and seasons. Journal of Water and Health, 4, 109-124 Swann, C. (1999). A survey of resident nutrient behaviors in the Chesapeake Bay. Center for Watershed Protection, Ellicott City, MD, 56pp Waters, S., Farrell-Poe, K., &Wagner, K. (2011). When it rains it runs off: runoff and urbanized areas in Arizona. The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension AZ1542, 5pp

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