Volunteers of the Mount Douglas Park ambassador pilot program Darrell Wick, Ed Wiebe and Claude Maurice. Submitted pohto                                Volunteers of the Mount Douglas Park ambassador pilot program Darrell Wick, Ed Wiebe and Claude Maurice. Submitted pohto

Volunteers of the Mount Douglas Park ambassador pilot program Darrell Wick, Ed Wiebe and Claude Maurice. Submitted pohto Volunteers of the Mount Douglas Park ambassador pilot program Darrell Wick, Ed Wiebe and Claude Maurice. Submitted pohto

Park ambassador pilot going well at Mount Doug

Park goers mostly respectful but dog poop, cigarette butts among ongoing issues

Easy to spot, and easy to talk to, visitors to Mount Douglas Park will likely run into one of two dozen ambassadors who take turns walking the park’s trails this summer.

The volunteers wear reflective vests and in addition to offering conversation, trail advice and directions, they provide information about park etiquette, watch for issues that require parks staff and pickup debris along the trails.

The new Mount Douglas Park ambassador program is going well, says Darrell Wick, one of the dozen volunteers.

Visitors often ask simple things, such as trail recommendations or which trails lead to the summit. At the summit, there are questions about visible destinations, such as where in the panorama is downtown Victoria, or what is the height at the summit.

Saanich Parks launched the four-month pilot program this year and will review it to determine its effectiveness. Among the volunteers, Wick is also president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, which lobbied to create such a program.

People can be apprehensive, especially if they know they’re doing something they shouldn’t be, such as smoking in the park. So the ambassadors, including Wick, are polite in their approach.

“All etiquette is conveyed in an informative and friendly manner,” Wick said. “Despite some litter issues in specific areas, the park and its trails are really quite clean and the vast majority of park users truly respect the natural park and take care of it.”

Still, there are times that someone needs to be approached. People who enjoy smoking in the outdoors in which case, Wick tries to be respectful, “You probably aren’t aware smoking is not allowed in the park, especially because of the high fire hazard.”

Ambassadors, after all, are volunteers and have no enforcement role.

For the most part, it’s common sense such as packing out anything you pack in is common sense. Yet litter is a problem.

“By far the most common [litter] is cigarette butts,” Wick said. “There are a couple of ‘hidden’ smoking areas where a lot of butts are found.”

In one spot, ambassadors counted 43 cigarette butts over two days, and 68 in another location.

“With the fire danger, these are especially problematic. Those that I have encountered, after a friendly chat explaining the fire danger, are very cooperative,” Wick said.

Another constant problem is the dog poop bags. While there are plenty of responsible dog owners there are still some that don’t monitor, or remove, the dog’s excrement from the trails.

Some move it to the sides of trails, where it accumulates and stinks, and where another set of volunteers, the invasive plant pullers, often step in it. Worse are the very few dog owners who actually bag the poop but then throw the bag into the understory where it hangs on a branch and becomes exposed when the leaves drop in the winter, Wick added.

Otherwise, parks visitors seem very positive and receptive towards ambassadors. Many say “thanks” and ambassadors are complemented when visitors see them pick up litter, he said.

Rogue trails are an issue and visitors should stay on named and marked trails, but it’s also a bit difficult because rogue trails are not currently marked as such. That’s a catch-22, will some people mischievously use them who normally wouldn’t have just because they’re marked?

Wick also reminds folks that plants and flowers are not to be removed from the park, though many visitors are from out of town and don’t know what a Garry oak is.

“There is general disgust with litter and not comprehending why anyone would litter,” Wick said. “On the positive side, overall, the park and trails are exceptionally clean. Walkers really appreciate and enjoy that the road is reserved for walkers and cyclists every morning. “


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Residents of Pat Bay Highway encampment to be relocated after early morning fire, site secured for clean up

Eviction notice issued in 2020, not enforced to allow BC Housing to connect with campers

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read