This summer, the Moose Jaw Public Library is freely offering a Regional Park Pass to library patrons with a valid library card.
“And that is what libraries are all about. We want to provide opportunities for people who might not be able to afford to have them otherwise, so that’s one way that we can do it,” says Arwen Rudolph, director of the Palliser Regional Library.
To pick up a park pass, all you need to do is stop by the Moose Jaw Public Library with your library card. “People can just show up to their public library and check a pass out if they have a library card, and it’s free. They can check it out for seven days.”
“They can use that pass to get access to any regional park in Saskatchewan,” Rudolph confirms.
The program has a first come, first served basis, so there is currently no option to book ahead or place a hold.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to reserve passes. It’s just show up, and if we have one, you can have it.”
Currently there are 1200 passes available province-wide, and these are distributed among public libraries. Last year, 365 passes were circulated in the Palliser region alone.
“We are anticipating similar, if not better circulation this year as more people know about the program,” says Rudolph.
“Last year it was just a pilot project… we [Palliser region] were one of the regions that did it,” she says. “And it went so well that they rolled it out across the province this year, so we are just one region of many who are participating.”
The program relies on the level of public interest and engagement.
“I hope it will be a permanent program,” she says. “If it continues to go well, and there continues to be interest, then I think yeah, it will probably be something you can expect on a yearly basis.”
“But of course, it is not a guarantee because it’s not just a region involved… it’s all public libraries, and of course, the Regional Park system as well.”
So far, the program has seen some success and the outlook is optimistic. “We are anticipating… there will be good interest this year,” she says. “There is a fair bit of demand for it.”
After the seven-day rental period, patrons are asked to return the park pass to the library.
“If you don’t return the park pass, the value of the pass is listed as $50. So, it becomes a lost item on your library card, and you can’t check out anything else until you have resolved that.”
“There are no overdue fines charged at any of the Palliser branches.” But this depends on where you are, as some of the seven provincial library regions charge fines and others do not. “As long as you return it [in Palliser], then all is forgiven.”
Currently there is no plan to expand the program to include provincial parks such as Buffalo Pound. “I have not heard that that is something that’s in the works,” confirms Rudolph.
There is, however, a planned inclusion of a Western Development Museum pass.
“Something that we’re working on, and which is already a program in Saskatoon is you can check out a pass to the Western Development Museum. That branch [Wheatland] is in Saskatoon, and that is something that we would like to do here. It’s in the works, but not something that’s available yet.”
“I think that libraries are, in general, getting into more of these sort of community partnerships and discovering how the library can help other organizations in our community get the word out about the things they have to offer,” says Rudolph.
Other organizations have the opportunity to get involved. “This Regional Park Pass program was organized through the Saskatchewan Library Association. They were the group that got everyone together and they were the contact group for the libraries. If you are an organization and are interested in doing something like this, it would be a good place to start.”
“I really hope that people are excited about it, and that we see a lot of people interested in using the passes this year,” Rudolph says.
The Regional Park Pass program is in effect between May 18th and September 15th, 2023.