Get your hands dirty at Calgary parks
Like it or not, we’re all going to have to get our hands a little dirty over the next few months. Calgary has a ton of public park space (according to the 2011 census, one park for every 17,316 Calgarians to be exact), and all of a sudden there’s a lot less maintenance staff to handle it.
Due to a council decision last year to transfer some needed funds over to the fire department, the department of Parks and Recreation has a maintenance short-fall of $2.3 million. To recoup some of the costs, the parks department is laying off seasonal workers months ahead of schedule. As of Oct. 4, 349 workers will have been let go by the city – leaving a pretty big gap. Usually, the seasonal workers finish their summer duties and prepare for fall by raking leaves and gathering up trash, as well as trimming plants. The city has no plans to make sure the work gets accomplished in time for winter – instead the parks will be allowed to get shabbier and shabbier until next spring.
According to the City of Calgary’s website, we’re home to 7,800 hectares of parkland and over 700 km of pathways – and they’re definitely not going to keep themselves clean.
The City of Calgary parks manager Todd Reichardt has a solution that he shared with the Calgary Sun on Sept. 19.“If you’re out walking, do us a favour and help us out. If you see it, pick up the trash and put it in the nearest garbage can.”
Clean-up is already needed. According to Metro Calgary, aldermen were informed at a council meeting in September that Calgary’s “riparian” zones aren’t doing so hot. A riparian zone is the area where a moving body of water touches the land – in layman’s terms, a riverbank.
City water resources staff presented that 95 per cent of riparian zones are either unhealthy, or healthy with problems – 44 per cent falling into the unhealthy category.
It seems like a pretty worrying problem, but it’s definitely not without a solution. In 2011, according to the City of Calgary’s Annual Report on Parks, 2,000 volunteers teamed up as part of the Annual Pathway and River Cleanup to collect 10,000 pounds of garbage in just one day. In the five years that the event has been taking place, volunteers have collected nearly 37 tons of trash. If only 2,000 people can make that much impact, imagine how much cleaner our parks would look if our 1.1 million citizens picked up a piece of trash every time they go for a walk.