From the Parks Bench ( Continued from page18)
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® .
Ontario Parks Association
Made with FlippingBook Ebook Creator