Saving $8,000 a drop in the bucket
Kudos to volunteers in Field who have stepped up in an effort to keep groomed cross-country ski trails in the Yoho area open to the public.
This is one of those situations where, in looking at a federal cutback decision, you can only shake your head in wonder.
In the midst of sweeping cutbacks by the feds to trim $5.2 billion from its budget, micromanaging down to the nickels and dimes of track grooming seems ridiculous.
Parks was hit hard by cuts as the federal agency issued 1,689 notices to employees across the country on April 30, with 638 positions to be cut agency-wide.
In Yoho, closing cross-country trails to save grooming costs was destined to save a staggering $8,000. And still, just 15 kilometres of trails, down from 34, will be tended to in the Emerald Lake area.
Trouble is, Kicking Horse Ski Club volunteers had been tending the trails for a couple of decades before Parks took over from them. That was two years ago. In the meantime, as might be expected when a federal agency took on the trail work, the club sold equipment required for trail grooming – only to have the work dropped in their lap again due to the cutbacks.
Now, worse yet, ski club dues will likely increase significantly to cover the cost of purchasing equipment to once again take on the responsibility of grooming.
Things do go round and round, don’t they?
Still… a saving of $8,000? Well done, federal government. That’s the kind of budgetary wisdom and restraint by our federal leaders that has us all sleeping soundly in our beds at night.
Cutbacks to trail grooming, much like cutbacks to the operational hours of tourist information centres and cutbacks to Parks staffing levels doesn’t quite mesh with a requirement to increase tourism by two per cent each year. Do more with less?
And in the end, it’s particularly galling to see the feds reaching down to trail grooming levels to pinch pennies in an effort to alleviate a $52 billion deficit.
This is the same level of government, regardless of ruling party, which has given us sparkling examples of fiscal responsibility like the now defunct multi-billion dollar gun registry – a federal program created, then axed, with little positive effect.
Or how about the $750 million purchase of used and decrepit submarines from the Royal Navy in 1998? This was after they’d been mothballed by the Brits since 1993 after moving to strictly nuke boats. Since the purchase, millions more have been sunk (if you will) into making these boats seaworthy.
Or, how about our feds signing up to purchase next generation F-35 fighter planes without any concrete estimate of their eventual cost? Other involved countries are bailing out (if you will) of the jet program as costs and apparent shortcomings escalate.
Still, a saving of $8,000… Seriously, wouldn’t that barely cover a breakfast meeting by a handful of federal ministers?
In the meantime, what is truly needed within Parks is more spending, not less – in the right areas and with proper management. With a push on to attract visitors new to Canada, urban visitors, and others from around the world, we’re now seeing that these targeted visitors have little knowledge of Parks flora and fauna. Hence, we have the feeding of wildlife on our roadsides, improper storage of food in camping areas… Rather than cutbacks, more funding is necessary for education of said visitors.
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