High volume of park visitors requires more workers, city staff says

More park workers needed

A case to hire more Kamloops nature park workers, made in early 2020, has taken on new urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic as city staff say some parks have sustained a record-breaking increase in visitors.

The proposal to hire an arborist and, in subsequent years, a nature park technician, was originally made in February of last year. Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the budget item was delayed for consideration.

In a Jan. 12 meeting, city staff told Kamloops city council the pandemic has increased the need for both workers to be hired in 2021.

“When the original business case was developed and presented, administration was unable to predict the impact that occurred on the City’s nature parks during the pandemic,” city staff wrote in a report to council.

Based on counters installed in the parks, trail use has increased more than 31 per cent on average. By the end of August, the counters recorded a total of 641,000 people visiting the city’s nature parks. In contrast, a total of 487,800 visitors were counted during the same time period the year before.

In their report, staff said the number of people using West Highlands Park and the main trailhead at Kenna Cartwright Park “broke the all-time trail use levels for those parks in a single month.”

The result of this visitor increase is that additional resources are required to help maintain parks and trails, especially if interest in outdoor activities continues to grow.

Staff said an arborist would provide additional capacity to assist with planting, inspecting and maintaining the city’s trees. A nature resources technician would help to maintain trails and BMX tracks, provide weed control and conduct repairs to park amenities and irrigation systems.

City council has been asked to consider this proposal, and is expected to vote on it in the spring.

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