Urban Park Rangers – coming to a park near you.

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After much study and consultation, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation has produced a five-year parks plan to be implemented, beginning this year (subject to City Council approval).

Extensive consultation of citizens, staff and industry experts determined four basic functions of parks management:

1. Communicate and connect with users
2. Preserve and promote nature
3. Maintain quality parks
4. Improve system planning

One of the more interesting proposals under Item 1 is the introduction of an Urban Park Ranger who would be a more visible presence in parks and would be a

‘primary point of contact for individuals and groups wanting to engage with the parks system and build relationships with community stakeholders’

Combing through the corporate jargon of relationships and stakeholders (are community stakeholders the people using the park barbecues? Ed.), it appears that park rangers will be the human face of the park system and will be tasked with ensuring that City and park by-laws are more more rigorously enforced. A commitment to providing or improving park amenities such as washrooms, signage, shade areas and benches is also proposed. Another interesting idea is the establishment of a centralized parks volunteer and donations system. Businesses and people might like to donate money, land or time to the parks system but at the moment there is no formal system in place.

This will be a timely intervention for our local parks that can sometimes look a bit neglected when compared to the elaborate facilities and displays found in more upscale areas of Toronto.

The plan is a long read but well worth the effort. Comments on the proposal can be directed here.