The city’s parks and recreation department will be getting some extra help in the new year. 

City council approved the hiring to four new seasonal staff as well as a couple of vehicles during budget deliberations. 

Director of Parks and Recreation Derek Blais said the department has taken on an increased workload in the past seven years with no additional staff. 

Parks took over the maintenance for the following areas: 

  • Belmont Park in 2013. 
  • Iron Bridge subdivision in 2014. 
  • Happy Valley Park in 2016. 
  • West Park subdivision in 2017. 
  • All downtown city parking lots and medians in 2019. 
  • New Rock subdivision in 2020. 

“A lot of different areas have been added to our maintenance inventory, with staffing levels remaining status quo. So, from 2011 to 2019 we've hired a maximum of 40 in-scope seasonal employees and one out of scope supervisor overseeing those employees,” Blais said. 

One seasonal worker was added in 2020 to address the backlog in tree maintenance in the city. 

Councillor Kim Robinson agreed that more staff needed to be added, despite the cost, and the fact more people has discovered the city’s parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I'm a little more optimistic in that when we come out of this, I think people will realize that we do have some great green spaces and parks and probably use them even more so in 2021,” Robinson said. “I'm a firm believer in giving somebody the tools they request to do their job.” 

One of the positions would be a seasonal in-scope crew lead that would work for 26 weeks to oversee maintenance activities of the city complex crew. Currently, there is only one out-of-scope supervisor for the entire department. 

That position will cost over $33,000 out of the operating budget. 

Two seasonal labourers will be hired to work for 14 weeks starting in the beginning of June, with a focus on weed trimming. Along with this request was the purchase of a utility turf vehicle. All totalled the workers and the vehicle will cost $32,500 in the operating budget and $14,000 for the parks and recreation major equipment control account. 

Finally, the position has been approved for a seasonal irrigation attendant to help maintain and inspect irrigation systems. Along with a $32,000 hit to the operating budget, there is also a cost of $20,000 from the parks and recreation major equipment control account for a road safe utility vehicle. 

The motions passed with the only opposition coming from Coun. Dawn Luhning. 

 

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