2020 OPA Winter Sward

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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