Saskatoon’s physical distancing ambassadors not ‘park police’

Saskatoon’s physical distancing ambassadors not ‘park police’
Saskatoon's physical distancing ambassadors have no enforcement powers and one of their primary roles is to maintain signage and caution tape. Devon Latchuk / Global News

The head of a Saskatoon city department acknowledges there may be some misconceptions about the role of the city’s physical distancing ambassadors.

Beginning last week, 16 redeployed leisure centre staff have been providing education and awareness for people in the city’s 200-plus parks.

READ MORE: Saskatoon sending ‘ambassadors’ to monitor city parks as province sets to reopen

“There are some people who have thought they’re more like park police,” said Lynne Lacroix, general manager of the community services department.

“That’s not it at all. It’s about making sure that parks are indeed as safe as they can be.”

The ambassadors have no enforcement powers. One of their primary functions is to check for downed signs and caution tape that are meant to adorn surfaces like play structures.

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Since April 16, the city has received 27 reports of downed signage, including five over the weekend.

Lacroix stated there is a real risk to people deliberately removing tape or signs.

READ MORE: Saskatoon city council passes special measures to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

“Others who come by later risk the chance of perhaps contracting the virus by touching that play structure if indeed they think it’s open for play,” she said.

The city encourages residents to continue using green spaces at a time when public health officials encourage physical activity in open spaces.

At the same time, they want city employees to be respected.

“Be kind to the park ambassadors … they’re just doing a job we’ve asked them to do.”