Park caretakers evicted – Replaced with Commissionaires

By Wayne Moore

The Regional District of Central Okanagan is streamlining the way it handles security within regional parks.

As of Dec. 1, on-site security at seven regional parks will be replaced by roving security provided by the Commissionaires of BC.

Security at Mission Creek, Woodhaven, Gellatly Heritage, Scenic Canyon, Reiswig, Bertram Creek and Kopje parks have all been handled by caretakers who live in houses in each of those parks.

Their duties included opening and closing the parks and taking care of any amenities within the parks, such as washrooms.

"They have been given notice their contract is up as of Nov. 30," said RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith.

Those contracts will not be renewed and the caretakers will have to find new living accommodations.

Smith said there have been no issues with services provided by the Commissionaires, and operationally, it was decided to use that model for all regional parks.

As for the homes in each of the seven parks, Smith said a final decision has not been made as to what will become of them.

"Some of them might be useful for programming and interpretation, some of them might be park staff work areas. But, that has yet to be determined. We'll figure out the best use for them as we move along," he said.

Smith said the regional district expects to save money as a result of the move, however, how much has not been determined.

As for issues in the parks such as parties, crime or vandalism, Smith said caretakers were always asked to call police rather than dealing with them themselves.

"We don't have any issues right now with the way the Commissionaires are providing the security, so we anticipate it will work well for the remaining seven parks," he said.

"And, many of our parks have neighbours around them, and we obviously encourage them to be eyes and ears and report any issues of concern they may have after hours to the RCMP."