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TBM will use volunteers to supplement bylaw enforcement squad

The program is proposed as a low-cost way to monitor the town's parks and beaches this summer
2020_06_03 Bayview Park TBM_JG
Park and beach facilities in TBM may see additional monitoring from volunteer-bylaw staff this summer in light of COVID-19. Jennifer Golletz/CollingwoodToday

The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) is currently exploring a volunteer-based ambassador program that would see community volunteers hired and trained to effectively provide assistance to bylaw officers in monitoring post-COVID safety measures.

“We are trying to come up with best ways to get additional staff to assist in the enforcement and monitoring of our parks and beaches,” said Shawn Everitt, CAO of TBM. “We need feet on the ground.”

The TBM is currently working to reopen its public facilities, but in light of COVID-19, town staff have identified the need for additional bylaw enforcement to keep watch of town properties and help to educate the public, which Everitt says would come at a substantial cost.

“In having a 14-week summer with a 10-week major portion of the summer, we have estimated staffing and enforcement needs and we are looking at roughly $163,000. That is just in the additional staffing we would require in the enforcement of our parks and that is based on what we know today,” said Everitt at the TBM council meeting held on Monday.

In an effort to reduce these costs, TBM will be pursuing a volunteer-based ambassador program with the goal of providing assistance and relief to bylaw officers.

TBM plans to model the program after the Blue Mountain's ski hill ambassador program, which sees volunteers frequent public areas to provide information and guidance to guests.

“I think this is a great concept,” said TBM mayor, Alar Soever. “However, we do need the proper training in place. You can’t just put summer staff on bylaw enforcement. It requires a certain amount of training, particularly in dealing with people who are upset.”

Soever adds that TBM is fortunate in that it does have a substantial bylaw department already.

“We are lucky in TBM, relative to other communities. I know there are some in Grey County that share one bylaw officer between four communities and they will be challenged,” he said. “We have a very robust bylaw department and of course, we have our own OPP station too. We have been getting excellent cooperation from the OPP recently as well.”

Soever adds since the town has begun opening facilities, there have not been too many COVID-related issues.

“Most people, when they are advised of what they are doing wrong, are very co-operative,” Soever added.

However, TBM council and staff are concerned that as the province begins to open up, TBM will see an influx of people who may not be aware of the town’s COVID-19 safety measures and protocol.

“For us to be nimble, yet provide monitoring that our community deserves, and quite frankly, demands, we are going to have to have flexibility and put staff where we need them, add staff where we need them but also keep in mind how we will need to exit this, as well as being financially responsible,” Everitt added.

Everitt is hopeful that town staff will be able to fast-track the town’s hiring and training process in order to get boots on the ground as soon as possible.

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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