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Posts Tagged "Parks"

6Sep

B.C.’s most popular parks … according to Instagram

by admin

Collage of Instagram photos


Photos from visitors to B.C. parks found on Instagram.


Photo illustration by Nathan Griffiths. Photos by @itsbigben, @thendrw and @calsnape, via Instagram.

Some of southern B.C.’s smallest provincial parks get the most love on Instagram, raising fears the social media platform is contributing to overcrowding and damage to parks. Yet those same posts might lead to more effective park planning and management, according to research.

A Postmedia analysis of hashtags on Instagram for popular south coast parks show that for some parks, the number of “likes” and comments for a park’s hashtag is a strong predictor of attendance.

That matches with research conducted by Spencer Wood, a senior research scientist at the eScience Institute for Data Discovery at the University of Washington and with the National Capital Project at Stanford University. Wood and his team have been using statistical models to study the role of social media in motivating people to get outdoors.

“There are correlations between the number of (social media) posts that get shared in a place and the number of people who visit a place,” said Wood. ”People are certainly going to sites to get some iconic photo.”

Wood said that talking about a park online does increase its popularity but that those sorts of effects have been happening for decades with print media.

Postmedia‘s analysis found that along the Sea to Sky Highway, Garibaldi, Stawamus Chief and Joffre Lakes showed some of the strongest correlation between ”likes“ and attendance, even when controlling for distance from urban centres and population growth. For other parks along the route, such as Narin or Bridal Veil falls, there was only moderate or no correlation.

Wood said the motivations driving park attendance are complex and differ by site. Changing demographics mean certain types of experiences are more popular than others and population growth means there are more people using the same amount of space.

“At some sites, it’s just a coincidence,” he said. “People are sharing their experience on Instagram but it’s probably not what’s driving people to the site. At other sites, we think yes, it is the publicity that’s driving people to the site. But neither is a guarantee.”

Josie Heisig, an influencer marketing specialist with Destination B.C., a Crown corporation that co-ordinates provincial tourism marketing, agrees the link between social media and increased visitation isn’t cut and dried.

“It’s hard to directly say that someone will book a trip because they’ve seen one Instagram post,” she said, “but it definitely leads to that path of them booking a trip.”

Destination B.C. has a front-seat view of social media’s explosive potential. In 2013, the company kicked off a promotional campaign using the hashtag #explorebc. This past B.C. Day long weekend, the hashtag surpassed five million uses on Instagram.

One of the most popular #explorebc posts showed a humpback whale breaching just metres from the dock at a lodge north of Port Hardy. Shot in 2018, the video has been viewed more than 48 million times across various platforms. The week following the post, which was amplified through Destination B.C. channels, business at the lodge shot up more than 1300 per cent with bookings being as far out as 2020.

“For the Great Bear Lodge, there was a direct number of bookings and inquiries after the video was posted,” said Heisig. “That’s one where we can see the direct correlation.”

Wood, who has done work with the U.S. Forest Service, said that a sudden boost in attendance can be a problem for sites that aren’t ready for it. As in B.C., many parks in the U.S. that used to hold visitors without trouble are struggling with overcrowding and providing services to visitors.

Wood and his team developed a dashboard of social media and other measures the U.S. Forest Service and others can use to determine which sites are the most popular and what new types of opportunities they need to be developing.

Social media data is improving the ability to make decisions about where to provide new opportunities, improve accessibility and focus ecological restoration, said Wood. It’s a way to help determine “what sort of policies and plans we should be making in order to improve people’s access to the outdoors.”

[email protected]

@njgriffiths

Methodology

Hashtag data was collected from the Instagram API using hashtag searches by park name (i.e.: ”#joffrelakes“ and ”joffrelakesprovincialpark“). Park visitor estimates were provided by B.C. Parks. Parks were selected based on the number of visitors in 2018 and their distance from Lower Mainland municipalities.

A correlation coefficient (R) was calculated using the number of Instagram ”likes“ for related hashtags and park attendance data for each year from 2010 to 2018 in order to estimate the relationship between ”likes” and attendance at each park.

20Jul

A day in the life at Oppenheimer Park’s homeless camp | CBC News

by admin

In the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, at least 100 people are living in tents at Oppenheimer Park located between Powell and Cordova streets, two blocks east of Main Street.

Each resident of the park has a unique story about how they ended up homeless and what they plan to do next. This is a day in the life of one of these residents, 51-year-old Stephen James Robinson who goes by the name “Red.”

Meet Stephen James Robinson, nicknamed “Red” because of his red hair. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Waking up in the zone. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

It’s 9 a.m. and Red wakes up in his “zone” — which consists of two tents and all his belongings — to the sounds of garbage trucks and angry neighbours. 

A city worker throws a bike into the back of a truck. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Two fire marshalls inspect inside a tent. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says he’s afraid to leave his tent to go to the bathroom or to eat breakfast because he may return to find all his possessions have vanished. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Every day, workers from the city’s Transient Crew along with members of the fire department accompanied by members of the Vancouver Police Department come to the park to inspect the park for fire hazards.

On Thursdays, the inspection is thorough. They arrive with garbage trucks and pickup trucks and spend hours throwing away any items that are deemed a fire hazard or simply unattended. 

Fire marshalls and member of the VPD discover an unattended motorized bike inside one of the tents. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

City worker uses a pitch fork to push an entire tent into a garbage truck. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

According to Fiona York, coordinator and administrator for the Carnegie Community Action Project, weekly city inspections cost the city over $100,000. She questions why this money isn’t spent creating housing. 

Red begins to clean up his tent for inspection. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red has lived in Oppenheimer Park for two months, but has been homeless off and on since he was 35 years old. Over the years, Red has come to know many of the city workers and developed a good rapport with them. Even so, he knows he must clean up his tent to avoid having everything taken away.

Red cleans up his space on a daily basis. He also cleans up most spaces he visits in the Downtown Eastside, picking up litter and abandoned items or raking urban soiled areas to clean away dead brush. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red throws garbage into a bin. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says he doesn’t like living in the park but that he feels he has no choice at the moment. He has been homeless for so long that “sometimes it feels weird to be inside.”

Like many people living in the park and on the streets in Vancouver, Red says there isn’t a single factor that led to his current circumstances. He says it has been a combination of many events including an old hip injury and a home invasion. But now that he is here, he is trying to make the best of it. 

There are more than 100 people living in tents in Oppenheimer Park. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Even so, Red finds joy in the little things. As he cleans up his tent he finds a piece of missing jewlery and gets excited at the discovery that it was not lost forever. 

Red finds a grasshopper. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

He also comes across a grasshopper and spends some time admiring the little creature.

Red is not afraid of pushing buttons and likes to make other people laugh. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red sits in his garden. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red finds joy in what he calls “urban recovery” which involves tidying pretty much any city space he comes across. His favourite piece of urban recovery is his garden. 

Stuffed owl sits in a branch on Red’s garden. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says the garden is a little damaged, “just like all of us.” (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A horse shoe hangs upside down in the garden. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red puts sparkling plastic stars in a small tree. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Stew from the City of Vancouver’s Urban Issues Crews has known Red for the past 15 years and says he has “met so many good people out of this horrible situation”. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red adds more items to the garden as he awaits inspection. It takes several hours for the city workers to get to his tent and when they do they greet him by name. 

Red speaks with the clean up crew. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red sits proudly in his tidy tent. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Once the workers arrive, they inspect Red’s area and throw away one mattress. Overall, Red is pleased that he passed inspection with flying colours due to his three-hour clean-up.  

It’s 1 p.m. and the inspection is over so Red can leave his tent to go get lunch. 

On the way to lunch, Red stops for a snack at a blackberry bush on the side of the street. He says he stops here every day to eat berries and also do a bit of urban recovery. There is dead brush on the ground that he clears to reveal soil beneath. 

Cheers! (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Across the street from the berries is the Evelyn Saller Centre on Alexander Street where Red enjoys most of his meals. Conveniently for Red, most of the places he needs to go today are within a few blocks from each other.

Red drinks from a glass of milk. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In Red’s words, he is a “very animated character.” (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In the cafeteria at the Evelyn Saller Centre, meals are only $2. Today’s lunch features burritos with rice, sour cream, salsa, a fruit cup, slaw, soup, coffee, apple juice and water. The cost of the food is charged to his account on file that is connected to his disability funds. This allows Red to come here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days (when he isn’t watching his tent).

Red leaving the Carnegie Centre Outreach. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After lunch, Red visits the Carnegie Centre Outreach where he picks up a copy of his Canadian citizenship, ID that he needs in order to apply for assistance such as housing services. 

Red uses his computer and phone mainly for entertainment such as watching YouTube or listening to music. He says that being homeless is really boring, so having access to entertainment is a treat. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red takes this document over to Orange Hall on East Hastings Street to check in on his housing placement and charge his electronics.

Julie Anderson goes in for a fist bump. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Julie Anderson works at Orange Hall which offers services such as providing secure and affordable accommodation for Vancouver tenants. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

As Red uses the outlet in the lounge to charge his electronics, Julie Anderson, a team assistant at Orange Hall, comes to pay a visit. Julie and Red first met while playing on the same rugby team have known each other for over 30 years. 

Anderson and Red joke back and forth outside Orange Hall on Hastings Street. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

When asked where Red is on the housing “list,” Anderson explains that’s a common misconception. There is actually a sophisticated database that lists each person’s individual needs and how those might be best paired with available housing. 

Red walks past the sign at Crab Park in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

When asked if she has any advice for people struggling with homelessness, she urges people to get connected to resources like Orange Hall. If they don’t, they’re invisible to helping agencies and therefore more vulnerable. 

Red says goodbye to Anderson and heads north. He has decided he needs an escape from the streets so he heads to Crab Park.

Red sits on a log at the beach. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says he much prefers the beach to the streets. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

He says he once lived on the beach under an umbrella for six  weeks. During that time he would clean away the large rocks to reveal the beach sand underneath — some of his proudest urban recovery work. 

Red waves goodbye at the end of the day. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After the beach, Red will go back to the Evelyn Saller Centre. He has to arrive before 5:50 p.m. when the doors close. There, Red will have dinner and then enjoy some TV and indoor activities such as bingo.

At 11 p.m., when the centre closes, he’ll head back to his home in Oppenheimer Park. 

As Red waves goodbye, he says he would like the public not to be afraid to come visit him in Oppenheimer Park and say hello. 


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11Mar

Consultants say 40% of Parks Canada real estate in poor condition

by admin

About 40 per cent of Parks Canada’s buildings, forts, bridges and other items of real estate are unsafe or unusable, or require billions of dollars in major repairs, says a new report.

An analysis the agency commissioned from an independent consultant says Parks Canada has deferred up to $9.5 billion in badly needed work – and ought to spend up to $3.3 billion on top of that to cope with the threat of climate change.

Parks Canada’s current annual spending on repairs falls short, says the report, despite a $3-billion injection of cash that began in 2014 and is now about half-spent.

CBC News obtained the September 2018 document, produced by New Zealand-based Opus International Consultants, under the Access to Information Act.

Parks Canada paid the consultants about $1 million to review the condition of the agency’s 16,618 assets.

“When reviewed, 24 per cent of the asset[s] were assessed as being in good condition, 36 per cent in fair condition, and 40 per cent in poor or very poor condition,” says the report.

“Forty per cent is a significant percentage to be in poor/very poor condition, given the interconnected nature of the service that is provided by the PCA [Parks Canada Agency] assets.”

Verifies findings

The agency now reviews the state of its vast asset pool — 46 national parks, 171 historic sites and other buildings, various bridges — every five years, and asked Opus to verify the findings of its latest catalogue from 2017.

Parks Canada is replacing the bridge over the canal in St. Peter’s, in Cape Breton Island, which has been there since 1936. An internal report says many of the agency’s marine assets are in bad shape. (Parks Canada)

In ordering the Opus work, Parks Canada acknowledged that “under-investment has been a chronic issue impeding the sound management and consistent life cycle management of the portfolio.”

Opus directly inspected a sample of 252 assets in 15 locations and examined other data to produce an independent review, including a projection three decades into the future.

[We are] addressing deferred work on Parks Canada’s assets across the country and considerable progress is being made.– Agency spokesperson Dominique Tessier

The company’s engineers determined Parks Canada had low-balled the replacement value of the assets. Opus says the portfolio is worth $24.1 billion — a figure one-third higher than the $18 billion estimated by the agency’s own staff.

The report says that at current low rates of repair, the average condition of the portfolio will decline further over the next 33 years, as more assets fall into poor or very poor condition.

The consultants also noted that the portfolio is not welcoming enough for disabled visitors and estimate that Parks Canada needs to spend $428 million on making its parks and facilities more accessible.

They also say climate change will batter Parks Canada assets with heavy rain and flooding, forest fires and salt water damage. The consultants say protecting parks assets from climate damage will cost between $1.66 billion and $3.3 billion, though they caution the figures are only an “initial indication.”

Finally, Opus notes Parks Canada has budgeted $140 million annually to maintain its assets, in addition to special cash injections coming largely from a non-agency budget that have added up to more than $3 billion between 2014 and 2017.

The consultants estimate the agency needs to spend between $825 million and $900 million each year to maintain the average state of the portfolio, aside from any accessibility and climate change-related cash infusions.

Developing plan

A spokesperson for the agency, Dominique Tessier, said Parks Canada has spent only about 48 per cent of the $2.6 billion it was promised from the federal infrastructure investment program.

The Garrison Graveyard at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, N.S. A consultant estimates Parks Canada has deferred some $9.5 billion in needed repairs to its assets across the country. (Parks Canada/The Canadian Press)

The program is “addressing deferred work on Parks Canada’s assets across the country and considerable progress is being made,” she said. “The work completed through the federal infrastructure program will restore and improve the condition of Parks Canada’s assets.”

Tessier said the agency is also developing a long-term plan “to ensure the effective management and ongoing sustainability of its infrastructure portfolio.”

In the meantime, on Jan. 1, 2020, Parks Canada is introducing admission fees at five sites that were previously free of charge, and is increasing fees by a 2.2 per cent adjustment for inflation at 19 other sites — all to ensure visitors pay a fair price that doesn’t undercut private operators.

Tessier said the new revenues will be “re-invested in the same places where they are collected to support visitor programs, services and facilities.”

The places being hit with new admission fees are: Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan ($5.80); Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ont. ($7.80); Georges Island National Historic Site, Nova Scotia ($7.80); S.S. Keno National Historic Site, Yukon ($3.90); and S.S. Klondike National Historic Site ($3.90).

Follow @DeanBeeby on Twitter




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