June 20th, 2024

Major budget cut will impact City green spaces, says parks manager

By Herald on June 23, 2021.

Devin Moore works as part of a turf maintenance crew mowing a green strip last season along Scenic Drive South. Herald file photo by Ian Martens

Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald

Lethbridge residents will notice a difference in their local parks and greenspaces this year as the City’s Parks department copes with a $500,000 budget cut in 2021.

“These budget reductions pretty much affect all areas in the parks system,” confirmed City of Lethbridge Parks manager David Ellis in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Given there will be 13 fewer employees working for the Parks department this summer, and other budget constraints, Ellis said his staff’s priority will be keeping green infrastructure, such as trees and shrubs, alive. The second priority will be keeping these spaces functional for residents’ use, added Ellis, and a long way third down on that last will be visual aesthetics.

“One of the last things that falls off is our ability to keep things looking as nice as we like to, and visually appealing as we have in the past,” he stated.

As such, Ellis said, expect to see weeds in mulch beds, grasses getting mowed only one to two times this summer, and perhaps even some brown grass in some local green spaces if the underlying irrigation infrastructure somehow breaks down.

“We have a couple of hundred (irrigation) systems through the city, and they have breakdowns,” Ellis confirmed. “Our ability to get them in a timely manner has been reduced to a point where we may see parks turning brown before we can get repairs done to them.

“We have basically one crew that has to bounce back and forth between those sites to keep them working, and as that list of repairs grows; so does the time taken to get to each of the sites,” he added.

Ellis acknowledged some of the public complaints he heard last summer as a result of a reduction in service due to COVID restrictions at that time. He warned Lethbridge residents this year it will be even more apparent.

“We have got an awful lot of work to do,” he stated, “and parks spread all over the city. To try to balance expectations and the needs of the entire city is always a challenge. Last year we were reduced somewhat, but that was more to do with restrictions with COVID. This year it is a direct result of budget reductions.”

Ellis said June coming into July was usually the busiest month of the year in the City’s parks, and he fully expected to be receiving an upswing in public complaints.

“We thought it was important getting the message out so there is understanding we are working with less than what we have,” he said. “And that impacts our ability to deliver what we like to deliver, and what we have delivered in the past.”

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Southern Albertan

Yes, and our rural property municipal taxes went up by about $300 along with service cutbacks/job loss as well, thanks to municipal funding cuts by the Kenney UCP. Their $1.3 billion on the iffy KXL pipeline, the $4.7 billion corporate handout, their $30 million/year war room, the $millions spent on the Steve Allan public enquiry saga, the $billions lost on corporate tax cuts, the funds lost on handing out cheap open pit coal mining land leases for pennies on the dollar, the $billions/year lost because of unfair taxation…..talk about unwise financial management. And Albertans are supposed to be satisfied with this? The Kenney UCP mantra “Jobs, Pipelines and the Economy,” has been a glaring ‘fail.’