Sunday, June 23, 2013

The heart of Prince’s Island brings volunteers in droves

Efforts began today to clean up Prince’s Island Park – one of Calgary’s most beloved and worst flooded parks - and the site of the most popular summer music festival in the city. The Calgary Music Folk Festival runs from July 25-28, 2013, and is sold out year after year.

Parks staff and Folk Festival organizers came together quickly to come up with a plan for clean up. Folk Festival organizers Tweeted the need for 250 volunteers yesterday afternoon and by 9 p.m. the quota was met, forcing organizers to turn away hundreds more folkfest fans who wanted to lend a hand.

“Parks staff take a great deal of pride in their parks, and when they first saw Prince’s Island they were heartbroken,” says Parks Zone Superintendent Tammy Robinson. “Not just for the state of the devastation but for the harm to plants and animals that call the park home.”

The massive undertaking to remove tonnes of silt and debris from the flood is being done by using large equipment and shovelling by hand around the precious trees in the park. Volunteers were asked to show up in work boots and long pants as a safety precaution. As well, two medics were recruited to help in the event of any injuries during clean up.

“The biggest injury we’re seeing today is blisters from shovelling – it’s the same spot on everyone’s hands,” says one of the doctors. Of greater concern to them is the dangerous or sharp debris in the silt. The hard labour required of the volunteers was only a second thought to those on hand to help – many saying getting the park back and seeing the beloved festival run this year, kept them focused on the task at hand.

One more full-day of work with the volunteer team is being planned as well as one in which a smaller group will continue to work on hard to reach areas.

Parks remains “cautiously optimistic” the Folk Festival will run again this year due to the hard work and spirit of their staff and citizens who have all pitched in to help.

“We were very pleased with the number of people who volunteered but not surprised,” says Robinson. “Calgarians are very committed to their City— we know this not only from this recent disaster but from the 9,000 people who volunteer annually for Parks said Kym McCulley, Parks, Leader Environmental & Education Initiatives.,”