OTTAWA -- Park ambassadors will begin patrolling Ottawa’s parks today to “clarify any confusion” you have about the rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The City of Ottawa is launching a “Park Ambassador Program” just days after relaxing the restrictions for using green spaces and parks. Residents can use the green spaces, but playground equipment, sports fields, tennis and basketball courts and skateboard parks remain closed.

Mayor Jim Watson told reporters on Friday the park ambassadors will provide guidance for residents who are using the parks.

“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.”

The City of Ottawa says the ambassadors will be working in pairs, wearing green t-shirts that residents know from Ottawa’s recreation and culture programs. They will also have red jackets to wear on chilly days.

Watson insisted that the park ambassadors will not be issuing tickets to residents in the parks.

Ottawa councillor Carol Anne Meehan, who put forth the idea, points to the transit ambassadors at bus and LRT stations. She says it made travel easier and her hope for the parks is the same.

Meehan says it’s like having a friend or neighbour to remind you.

“A park ambassador can remind you of how to be physically distant from one another to remind the kids don’t get on those play structures now, I think the message will be better received.”

Ambassadors have began training with Ottawa Public Health and the Bylaw and Regulatory Services department. The teams will be working in parks throughout the capital.

The City of Ottawa offers the following tips for using green spaces during the pandemic:

  • Maintain a distance of two metres from others
  • Restrict activities to groups of five or fewer
  • Stay with people who are in your own household
  • Wear a mask whenever possible in public, especially when a two-metre separation is not possible
  • Stay off park amenities, such as play structures, ball diamonds, benches, skateboard ramps, basketball and tennis courts