COVID-19 and Parks

Updated: Apr 2

With today’s announcements, and our change in status level, some issues are rising to the top very quickly for parks.  At the nub of it, how do we help?


ICC are closing playgrounds on the strength of the Beehive release today (below) but most councils have apparently not. Most are uncertain, most looking for consistency.


https://www.beehive.govt.nz/speech/prime-minister-covid-19-alert-level-increased


“Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must now close. All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face-to-face function”.


Most parks don’t have a face-to-face function but some immediate challenges deserve our discussion: Playgrounds were the only one in this list that doesn’t have a door to close them with. How do you close a playground and do they mean a modular plastic one or anywhere someone can play? Will people be arrested if they do? (Probably!) What is our position therefore on public toilets and drinking fountains, beach showers and public BBQs are these more of an issue (any others?)…and who do we work with in government? Do these assets stay open? What’s our consistent position?


Key points and our position to assist government:

  1. Parks role in this

  2. Affirmation that parks are open (or not, and for many how do you close them anyway?) What guidance should the Police receive from the Parks sector? How do relieve the ambiguity for the public? And on which government website? How do we enter the PM’s speeches as the ‘good news’?

  3. Essential services surely include as well, arboriculture, rubbish collection and public toilets? Any others.

  4. Should we front-foot some of this and contribute on camping, public toilets and drinking fountains, beach showers and public BBQs and recreation use of parks full stop? What about trails, and cycling? Running and walking the dog (which apparently one should, from the same statement:) “You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, exercise. To take your children outside. But remember the simple principle. It must be solitary. We are asking that you only spend time with those you are in self isolation with”

  5. Where do we get our consistency from and what shall we decide is the best advice to government? What is the helpful position? Every other sector seems to be involved. What is your agency’s position on some of these at least?  

  6. We also need to assist our sector with guidelines on what should be done with maintenance and service…do we lead this issue to prepare NZ for long grass, weeds, unkempt reserves, no autumn field renovations for sport and an assurance all will be put right? Is this the best time for addressing a backlog funding wise for eventual stimulus?

  7. From our perspective…That we don’t want mower operators being filmed cutting grass or the change of bedding annuals during a Level 4 lockdown?

We should have an industry position on a few things, including a stimulus package for the economy based on parks, as it was in the Great Depression, post WWII with the Memorial Parks’ funding, and in the early 1980s, (TFG) …we’ve been here before. I’ve already written one such stimulus package for a council looking to attract stimulus for employment projects, all in parks and on a macro-landscape scale...people are thinking further ahead already.


We should play a role in saying what you CAN do, as the PM has. We provide the places that produce the fresh air, where you take the walk, where you take your children when outside is not a balcony or a home section. How say you?


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New Zealand Parks Leaders Forum