The City’s Park Buddies programme was officially launched at Princess Vlei, following the installation of a new children’s play area, to encourage residents to take ownership of their facilities.The City of Cape Town first introduced the Park Buddies programme in Khayelitsha on Thursday 15 August. A statement from the City read: “The programme was launched at Mandela Park in Khayelitsha and will run until 30 June 2020. The launch also includes a tree-planting ceremony which will be held in the lead up to Arbor Month in September.”In the statement, Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said: “The Park Buddies programme encourages communities to take ownership of parks in their areas. “The appointed park buddies will also be the City’s ambassadors in their communities. This has been proven an effective measure in creating positive and long-lasting relationships to see real change in communities.”On Thursday 29 August, the programme was officially launched at Princess Vlei recreational area which provides a braai facility and play area for children from Retreat, Grassy Park, Steenberg and other surrounding areas. Kevin Southgate, councillor for ward 72, told People’s Post that mayor Dan Plato is in the process of rolling out the programme at the recreational park. “We had a caretaker at the park and now he has allocated two park buddies at Princess Vlei. “Hopefully, that will add to creating a safe space and deter people from vandalising the facilities,” he said.About a month ago, one of the new park swings was cut off and stolen. The park buddies’ presence is intended to prevent criminal elements from targeting the park. The programme also aims to discourage drug-users and vagrants from using the facility for nefarious purposes.Explaining that the maintenance and protection of the facility is a community effort, he added: “The neighbourhood watches usually come out to assist at Princess Vlei. “Two additional park buddies were appointed for ward 72 X one at Ross Common Road Park in Elfindale, and one at Mocke River Park.”Trees have been planted at Princess Vlei to improve aesthetics at the recreational park. Next year, tables and chairs will be installed for family picnics and a walkway will be built around the vlei.