Nova Scotia Provincial Parks Drop Overnight Staff

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May 26, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Some people are shuddering at the thought of what could happen in Nova Scotia’s provincial campgrounds this season now that they won’t be staffed overnight.

One employee who has done the job for the past few years says he figures the 24 campgrounds will become party central, according to The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"I’ve almost been assaulted on three occasions after telling some rowdy people to quiet down," said the worker, who asked for anonymity.

"The most common incidents are drunk and disorderly kinds of things with teenagers.

"There’s a lot that can happen and none of it’s nice at that time of night. There was one group of teenagers who sent up a wall of flames at their campsite because they put lighter fluid on the fire."

While Occupational Health and Safety requirements now say employers must have two workers on duty overnight for safety reasons, Allan Eddy, the acting director of parks and recreation for the Department of Natural Resources, said that wasn’t why the changes came about.

"We looked at the scheduling and determined (that) 99% of the time there is no issue in the campgrounds overnight," he said.

From now on, two security/maintenance workers will remain in the parks until 11 p.m., from Sunday until Thursday.

On Friday and Saturday nights, they will remain until 2 a.m.

"If there is an issue, the workers simply won’t leave until it’s handled," said Eddy. "Staff will be aware and will be monitoring."

Those who need assistance after personnel have left for the night will be able to use a public payphone to call for assistance.

He said many jurisdictions across the country and in the United States don’t have overnight staff.

"It’s not like it’s a brave new world and we’re the first ones trying it out," he said. "We’ve chosen to schedule in this way because it’s a better schedule and better use of human resources."

Nonetheless, if the new system presents problems, Eddy said it can be changed back. However, two people will have to be working instead of just one.

As far as Kings-West MLA Leo Glavine is concerned, the change back to the way it was should happen sooner rather than later.

"In my view, this policy needs to be reversed immediately and I will be calling on the government to do so," said the Liberal’s Natural Resources critic.

"It can’t change after the season and not after something happens," he said. "For me, it’s all about safety for the public, for family with young children."

Once signs are posted in the campgrounds that no personnel will be on the site after certain hours, it may mean open season for wild parties and rowdy behavior, Glavine said.

"You don’t have to stretch your imagination to think of all the possibilities," he said. "This has all the earmarks of being about economics and saving a few bucks."

As for the campground worker, he said he doesn’t need his imagination to predict the kinds of problems this will mean at the campgrounds.

"Think about grad nights and the drinking and craziness going on — it’s just a big, big worry."

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