The City of Ottawa is launching a “Parks Ambassador Program” to educate residents on the do’s and don’ts in parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Mayor Jim Watson insists the park ambassadors will not be issuing tickets to residents using the newly opened green spaces.
Starting Monday, Watson says city staff will be deployed in parks across Ottawa to clear up “any confusion” from residents about what activities are allowed in municipal parks.
“Parks ambassadors are trained city staff that can provide guidance for residents who are using some of Ottawa’s busiest parks,” said Watson on Friday.
“They can provide information, answer questions and clarify any confusion about what’s permitted in city parks, while maintaining a safe two metre distance from others.”
On Wednesday, the City of Ottawa eased the COVID-19 restrictions for green spaces in municipal parks. While residents can fly a kite or play catch in the green spaces, playground equipment, sports fields, tennis and basketball courts and other amenities remain closed to the public.
The mayor told reporters that Ottawa Bylaw has issued approximately ten warnings since Wednesday to people for misusing municipal parks.
"If we get ambassadors out there to properly educate people that it's not safe to go on the play structures but you can go play in this section of open space, it will be beneficial to everyone."
Councillor Carol Anne Meehan initially raised the idea of using city staff to educate residents about the COVID-19 rules for municipal parks.
The park ambassadors will be working in pairs in Ottawa’s parks, wearing green t-shirts. They will also have red jackets, with City of Ottawa logos, so you can identify them.
Watson says the park ambassadors are trained city staff, and there will be no additional costs to the city.
Ottawa Bylaw has said it won’t increase patrols of the parks now that the restrictions have been lifted. Mayor Watson told reporters the park ambassadors are there to educate residents, not to enforce the COVID-19 rules.
“I want to make it clear, these park ambassadors are not giving out tickets.”