Mount Douglas Park will have summer ambassadors

Mount Douglas Park will have summer ambassadors

Ambassadors will engage visitors to the park that draws close to 400,000 people each year

Visitors to Mount Douglas Park this summer will be greeted by park ambassadors.

The new pilot project is to educate park goers about the diverse but sensitive nature of Mount Doug Park, which is threatened by rogue trails, disappearing plants and dump sites. They’re all misuses of the park that the new ambassador pilot project hopes to end.

With 400,000 annual visits, the park ambassador project has been on the mind of Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Society, for some time.

“There’s plenty of evidence that the plant life is removed, everything from fiddleheads, trees, cedar boughs (for wreaths), beach material (driftwood, sand, shells, clams), mushrooms, young plants and saplings, firewood,” Wick said. “We also have issues of rogue trails, people are going off-trail into sensitive areas and it’s a problem.”

Ambassadors will walk the park and engage park goers, educating them while also being a presence against any illegal activity, though ambassadors are not expected to enforce bylaws.

Recruiting will begin soon.

“We want people who are able to travel the park, who are enthusiastic about the park, and who can speak to the park,” said Eva Riccius, Saanich Parks senior manager.

From May to September the ambassadors would spend a few hours each week greeting visitors, offering information and answering questions about the park and trails.

Saanich Parks staff worked with the Friends of Mount Doug to develop the pilot project, which was approved earlier this week. Saanich made $30,000 available for program development, volunteer recruitment, supervision, support, supporting materials and honararia.

The money is for experts who are brought in to train ambassadors, whether it’s about identifying plants and birds, or if it’s some First Nations elders who are able to share their knowledge, Riccius said.

If the summer 2018 pilot project proves successful, Saanich staff will explore the potential expansion of the park ambassador project into other Saanich parks.

Saanich Parks will soon release more information on the parks ambassador pilot project and volunteer recruitment at saanich.ca.

reporter@saanichnews.com