City Seeks to Clarify Parks Service Level Adjustments

Medicine Hat – The Parks and Recreation Department recently announced service level adjustments to some parks maintenance activities on a trial basis for the summer of 2019. Since that time, a number of ongoing challenges with parks maintenance have been attributed to these adjustments, and CMH staff are looking to clarify the exact nature of the changes.

“Since the community learned about our effort to adjust parks maintenance standards in lower use parks, there has been a lot of confusion around what the adjustments actually are,” said James Will, General Manager of Parks and Recreation at the City of Medicine Hat. “Unfortunately, we have experienced challenges this year that are not a result of the changes. We’re hoping to reassure the community that our intended service level adjustments are not as drastic as residents may have initially thought.”

With very dry conditions over the past few years, weed control has become more challenging due to the inability of turf to compete with the weeds, which are more resilient to drought conditions. In addition, cold weather delayed staff from testing irrigation systems, and a higher than average number of repairs were required due to the prolonged cold temperatures this winter, resulting in a late start to irrigation. More complex irrigation system problems in some major City parks have also contributed to greater issues with weed control and turf maintenance.

“Irrigation deficiencies are causing issues in places like Ross Glen Town Centre Park, but problems like this are unrelated to the service level adjustments,” said Will.

A review of parks maintenance standards was completed to determine where adjustments could be made in an effort to achieve the appropriate balance of community service and long-term resource sustainability. The findings of the review helped to shape some adjustments to service levels, which have since been incorporated.

“We have taken a very conscious approach as to how the community utilizes each green space, whether it’s a neighbourhood park, or a boulevard,” Will said. “We don’t anticipate these changes to compromise how these spaces are used and will remain focused on ensuring public safety.”

The City maintains more than 200 manicured park areas, totaling 840 acres. This includes 650 acres of irrigated turf, 86 flower beds containing 30,000 plants, 400 shrub beds, and 20,000 trees. By adjusting parks service levels, the City will achieve financial savings of $200,000 annually, representing a 2.3% reduction in parks maintenance costs.

“The City and its residents take great pride in our parks and green space,” said Will. “We will continue to provide the high level of service residents have come to expect, but we want to do so in financially and environmentally sustainable ways.”

Further evaluation of the service level adjustments will continue over the summer, and modifications may occur as needed to best balance resident needs with long-term sustainability efforts.

A complete list of the service level adjustments can be found on the City’s website.

For media inquiries, please contact:

James Will

General Manager of Parks & Recreation

City of Medicine Hat