Parks staff weigh in on life after the cuts

Early in 2015, the McNeil government cut staff at seven provincial parks and turned them into self-serve parks. Bob Gimblett works at one of these parks, Porters Lake Provincial Park, and has been working hard to provide the public with the best experience possible despite these reductions. Bob has been advocating for improvements to the infrastructure and staffing in the park since 2012 when he was on an NSGEU Parks Working Group. After one of the busiest years ever, the government announced a multi-year investment in the park for upgrades to infrastructure. We contacted Bob to find out his thoughts and ask him how he and other staff have managed this year.:
“Last year we went from a full service park to a self-serve park with eight of the staff laid off and four of us left to run the park.
We still had to man the park until two in the morning each Friday and Saturday night while keeping up with all the maintenance work. This meant that the attendant or caretaker was regularly alone during their shift. This is a health & safety concern and one that needs to be addressed. But we managed somehow and still helped the customers deal with the new self-serve system. So yes, we lost staff but still succeeded.
This year has been much better. Half way through the season, in July, we got one of our best attendants back. We also got two students; one who had worked in the park before. Both were a great help.
We have moved forward, fixed picnic tables, built two new shelters at the beach, repaired lights at the comfort station, painted outhouses, maintained the grounds, and more.
I am very pleased with the announcement of the new investment in the park. For about eight years, we have been plagued with a water system (pipes) that will not stop leaking. I hope this investment will fix it.
The road at the front of the park needs work as well. Many of the things we identified as needing to get done in the park may finally come through.
There are still some problems with the self-serve kiosk and its position. International visitors, especially those from Germany, have the hardest time and do not want to use it.
A total of 4,000 camping nights, a 26 percent increase, speaks volumes for the staff and our community! Next year we are going to keep working on the day use park.”
Bob Gimblett is a member of local 6, and works at the Porters Lake Provincial Park.

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