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City of Edmonton. Parks and Recreation Department
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- City of Edmonton. Community Services Department (1997-2016); City of Edmonton. Citizen Services Department (2016-)
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The Parks and Recreation Department was established on January 1, 1962 through the amalgamation of the Parks Department and the Recreation Department. The newly formed department was responsible for all City-owned recreational facilities and parklands. This included all parks, arenas, and pools, as well as facilities such as Fort Edmonton Park, the Storyland Valley Zoo, the Planetarium, John Walter Museum, golf courses, City leisure centres, and municipal cemeteries. The department also provided recreation opportunities to citizens. These changed over time, but included athletics, dramatics, crafts, daycare, play school, camping, clubs, and dance.
The Parks and Recreation Department was led by a Superintendent from 1962 until the early 1970s, at which time the position was reclassified as a General Manager. The head of the department reported to the City Commissioners until 1983, when the Commissioners’ positions were dissolved and replaced a the City Manager.
There were a number of advisory boards that provided advice to City Council regarding a number of issues relating to the work of the Parks and Recreation Department. Over time these included the Zoo Advisory Board, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Edmonton Historical Board, and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Advisory Board.
When the Parks and Recreation Department was established there was an administrative division, a research and planning division, a programme division (which included pools, the planetarium [later the Space Sciences Centre], and playgrounds), a construction division, and a maintenance division. The Storyland Valley Zoo was part of the Parks and Recreation Department but operated independently from the larger divisions.
The division names changed slightly over the next few years but the functions remained the same until 1966, when the Historical section, including the Historical Exhibits Building and John Walter Museum, was assigned to the department. This relieved the Historical Board of its administrative duties and allowed it to focus on an advisory role. Also this year operation of municipal cemeteries (including Beechmount, Edmonton and Mount Pleasant) was transferred to the General Maintenance Division of Parks and Recreation.
In 1967 the department underwent a significant restructuring meant to create a more logically aligned and balanced organization. The new divisions included Administration, Development (including planning, design, engineering, construction, forestry), Program Resources (formerly the Programs Division), Community Programs (divided by district), Revenue Programs (such as aquatics, arenas, zoo, planetarium, concessions, and golf courses), Maintenance (including forestry, horticulture and cemeteries), and Historical Development. This structure lasted until at least 1971.
In 1978 the Edmonton Space Sciences Foundation was established to plan for the creation and operation of a Space Sciences Centre. When this dream was finally realized in 1984 the Planetarium was closed.
By 1980 the Parks and Recreation Department had been reorganized into four units: Operations, Administrative Services, Planning and Development, and Major Facilities. Yet another reorganization occurred by 1988, by which time the organization of the department had become less centralized. The units at the time included Administrative Services, Marketing and Major Facilities Branch, Leisure Centres, Recreation and Culture Branch, Parks Maintenance Branch, Horticultural Services, and the Development Branch. The following year the Recreation and Culture Branch was renamed the Community Leisure Services Branch.
In 1992 the organization contracted to five units: Administrative Services, Community Leisure Services Branch, Major Facilities Branch, Parks Operations Branch, and Parks Development Branch. In 1993 Community Leisure Services Branch was renamed Community Recreation and Culture Services Branch. This organizational structure remained until 1997.
In 1997 the Parks and Recreation Department was reorganized as part of City ‘97, and became the Community Services Department. In 2016 the department was renamed Citizen Services.
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