Federal budget cutbacks felt at Fort Rodd Hill

Visitors to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard National Historic Sites may have less time to get the full experience this year.

Visitors to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard National Historic Sites may have less time to get the full experience this year.

Federal budget cuts are forcing the reduction of two staff positions and the level of interpretation available for visitors throughout much of the year.

The Conservative government announced last week the elimination or reduction of nearly 4,000 federal jobs in Canada, nearly half of which are from Parks Canada.

For Fort Rodd Hill, this means shortening the high season, when staffing levels and services are highest.

Instead of running Feb. 15 to Oct. 31, the park now will only be fully staffed from July 1 to Labour Day. During the “shoulder seasons” staffing levels and interpretive programs will also be reduced.

“In order to meet our deficit reduction obligations from Budget 2012, Parks Canada is aligning its season, hours of operation and personal service to better reflect patterns of visitation,” said Laura Judson, spokesperson for Coastal B.C. Field Unit, Parks Canada.

During the shoulder-seasons – May 1 to June 30 and Labour Day to Thanksgiving – there will be a reduction in staff resulting in fewer programs, although special events will continue.

In the off-season, from Thanksgiving to April 30, the site will remain open but there will be no personal interpretation, programs or events run by Parks Canada.

Instead, information for visitors will be provided through exhibits, signage and brochures during this time of the year.

Field unit superintendent for coastal B.C., Helen Davis said, despite the cuts, visitors will still have many opportunities to enjoy the site and learn its history.

“They can continue to expect a rich experience,” Davis said. “During the shoulder season, we’ll continue to support the many community events that take place at the site.”

There will be no impact on demonstrations or events already scheduled for this year and the high-season level of staffing is currently in place, though it could end early.

“By taking this action, we are focusing services when and where the majority of visitors use them,” Judson said.

“When visitation is at its highest during the peak season of operation at national parks and national historic sites, staffing will continue to be at its highest levels, and facilities will be fully operational.”

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