qathet Regional District’s (qRD) board of directors will examine whether to allow volunteers to contribute to the enhancement of regional district parks, properties and trails.
At the February 17 committee of the whole meeting, directors considered a staff report into the matter. The report stated that the Rotary Club of Powell River had approached regional district staff, offering to help clean up gravesites at Powell River Regional Cemetery in Cranberry, which the regional district administers and maintains. The report stated the task is normally done by family members and friends visiting gravesites, but some are not cared for due to no family living nearby. The report stated that Imperial Limestone/Arcosa Specialty Materials also approached qRD to offer its staff to undertake routine maintenance for specific trails on Texada Island.
At the meeting, Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said the initiative is fantastic and it is great news.
“I enthusiastically support volunteers in parks,” said Gisborne. “I would like to commend staff for what they have brought before the committee. The parks, properties and trails volunteer program framework, the handbook, the volunteer agreement, I believe, will serve as a valuable asset for our organization. I think staff went above and beyond.
“I would also like to clearly state that while I enthusiastically support volunteers in parks, there have been some concerns brought up in this report, and I believe we as a board, leading the organization, must ensure our due diligence to ensure the regional district’s unionized employees do not feel threatened by such a program. This program is not to replace any of our unionized workers or current staff. I believe we can work together for the betterment of our community using this program.”
Manager of operational services Patrick Devereaux said if directed, once discussions have been held with the union, staff will come back to the board for final approval.
Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick said she had been approached many times by people who would like to clear a trail or do something that will help make a regional facility more accessible.
“It’s nice to be able to have a program now that we can refer those people to,” she added.
Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said, in the report, it was good to see the balance in engaging volunteers to participate and do things, along with the respect for union work and requirement to provide services in a safe way.
“It’s not an easy path but this is great and I look forward to hopefully getting positive feedback from the union,” said Fall.
The committee voted to recommend the board direct staff to seek union support for allowing volunteers to contribute to the enhancement of regional parks, properties and trails.