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Grand Forks winter campground job ‘bad look’ for the city: Zielinski

A Grand Forks councillor says a plan to supervise the municipal campground over winter is a “bad look for the city.”

Rod Zielinski made the comment Monday as council updated the operating bylaws giving city staff the option of having an on-site winter caretaker.

“No washroom, no cleanliness close by, no running water, is not a way to live. Maybe that’s my own standards. But sticking somebody in an RV at 20-below with electricity and calling that living is not in my books,” Zielinski said.

He is both “disappointed” and “sad” council is moving forward with the plan.

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Zielinski doesn’t believe the city needs winter security at the Grand Forks Municipal Campground, between 5th and 7th Streets on the north shore of the Kettle River.

“I am disappointed that council would approve a position like that without knowing hours of work, without having a job description, without have a wage and without advertising, quite frankly,” he said.

“When you put on top of it that it’s a job condition that you sit in an RV 24/7 freezing your butt off throughout the winter is not something I really want to be a part of. It’s a bad look for the city. I think it’s below human standards,” Zielinski added.

He suggested some people are “not making necessary sound decisions” and “acting out of desperation,” especially when there are some empty lots at River Shore Mobile Home Park.

But Coun. Deborah Lafleur noted the request came from the campground attendant to stay over winter and its her choice to make. “Do I think it’s optimal living conditions? No. But it’s not my choice to make if that she is willing (to do) for herself and I do not…want to create her to be homeless.”

In a letter to council, campground attendant Joan Heart notes winter security is necessary but she couldn’t live in her R-V over winter with no water and sewer.

The updated campground operations bylaw passed with Zielinski and Coun. David Mark voting against it.

Mark feels the winter caretaker position should never have been created.

CAO Duncan Redfearn noted just recently approved people to live in their RVs year-round on 3rd Street, near the hospital and in South Ruckle.

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