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Councillor Ana Bailao letter to dufferingrovefriends list, March 8, 2019

Dear Dufferin Grove neighbours,

I'd like to take a moment to clarify some of the questions my office has received about the process regarding the improvements to the northwest corner of Dufferin Grove Park.

Dufferin Grove Park is a valued treasure in our community and over many years, residents, arts groups and organizations have come together to build a range of community programming and events in the park. These hours of volunteer effort and the amount of creativity in our community which has turned the park into a real social and neighbourhood hub is something to really value and nurture. The intense relationship our community has with the park brings a need for comprehensive consultation with residents and park users. I have since the beginning and continue to maintain that there must be transparency and consultation throughout this process. Over the past 2 years, this initiative has unfolded slowly and I'd like to provide some history and insight into the project's development. I've included a brief timeline below of the project's history and website links to the reports and agendas which have always been publicly accessible for residents to read and ask questions on.

∑ (1) - November 24, 2016: First public meeting and community invited to join Community Resource Group (CRG)

∑ (2) - February 27, 2017: First CRG Meeting

∑ (2) - May 17, 2017: second CRG meeting and members advised of RFP process to select design team.

∑ (2) - June 2017: CRG members invited to join the bid evaluation process

∑ (2) - June 1, 2017: Farmers market popup consultation held to collect feedback and inform the public.

∑ (2) - November 2017: RFP opens and CRG members invited to join bid evaluation process

∑ (2) - December 2018: RFP closes and bid review process begins

∑ (2) - Spring 2018: DTAH architects selected as winning bidder

∑ (3) - October 17, 2018: CRG meetings resume

∑ (3) - November 28, 2018: CRG meeting

∑ (3) - December 11, 2018: CRG meeting

∑ (3) - February 6, 2019: Public meeting to share preliminary concepts developed by DTAH from community input and hear public feedback.

1. In November 2016 the City held a community meeting to open a discussion about ways to improve the northwest corner of the park which includes the clubhouse and rink area. City staff indicated at that meeting that there was a need to undertake building code upgrades and address accessibility concerns. As seen this winter, the aging refrigeration system for the ice rink needs replacing too. Given the need for this work, the City took the opportunity to see what opportunities may exist to improve the facilities to better support the programming in the park. At the November 2016 meeting, community members and park users were invited to join a Community Resource Group (CRG), which would help to provide detailed input to the project team. Invitations to join the CRG were posted in this Friends of Dufferin Grove list-serv as well and my office worked to extend the application deadline to ensure people had enough time to apply. Everyone who applied was accepted.

2. In February 2017, the first CRG meeting was held to further the discussions on the programming needs and uses of the park facilities and the project team provided information on how the Request For Proposals (RFP) process works to select a design team. In May 2017, the second CRG meeting was held and members were advised by the project teams that up to 2 CRG members would be able to participate on the evaluation team for the RFP bid review. On June 1, 2017 the project team held a farmers market pop-up consultation to learn more from the community and inform them of the process. In June, CRG members were asked if they wanted to join the evaluation team and in November 2017 the CRG was notified that the RFP call was open for design teams to bid on. Two CRG members joined the evaluation team in January 2018 following closing of the RFP the volunteered CRG members and City staff began the bid evaluation. The winning design team was chosen in the Spring 2018.

3. With the 2018 Municipal Election then getting underway, there was a blackout period on City and Councillor communications, though my office attended the October 2018 CRG meeting to observe the open consultation process, where the design/architecture team DTAH was introduced and questions from the public who were watching were answered by the project team as well. Following this meeting, the CRG was opened up once again to new members to grow the conversation and get more input.

Over the next two CRG meetings in November and December 2018, the design consultants incorporated the input received thus far into very preliminary concept improvement options and on December 19, 2018 the project team spent time observing the ice rink/shinny pad usage. These preliminary concepts were shared at the public meeting on February 6th, 2019. Throughout all of this, the project's website was updated with the minutes, agendas and consultation throughout the process to keep things open and transparent. The public survey for feedback was open for a full month until March 6th, 2019 to provide ample opportunity to provide comments and project staff are now compiling these comments into their report. This survey was communicated out by me through my e-newsletter and social media, in addition to the project teams own effort to further invite engagement with this important project.

In my communications with our community I have always encouraged feedback and indicated that decisions have not yet been made because there is a need to hear from the community, whether it's via the project website, the CRG meetings, the public meetings or emails to my office. It is this involvement which has actually helped to shape the options presented for these improvements so that they respond to the needs of the community.

I have said repeatedly at the CRG and community meetings, I do believe and agree with a lot of you that we need to look at the park as a whole and that the improvements in the northwest corner need to consider how the rest of the park is used. I have said to the project team at these meetings that we need to tie this project in with the rest of the park and also look at improvements to items like the washrooms, the playground and accessibility concerns in the park. However, we need to allow the design process for improvements in the clubhouse/rink area to take place so that we can understand the potential costs, benefits and implications that the clubhouse/rink area improvements have. I look forward to these being presented in the upcoming meetings ahead so that we, as a community, can better understand the options we have and improve the park for all users.

I know that residents have some concerns about the project and are eager to see improvements made throughout Dufferin Grove Park. I want to thank everyone for the continued engagement with this project and let you know that I believe our community deserves this investment in our park. I look forward to seeing you throughout the community and at the next meeting which is expected to take place on April 17, 2019. If you have any questions, you can as always contact me: councillor_bailao@toronto.ca.

In Community, Ana Bail„o Deputy Mayor Councillor, Ward 9 - Davenport


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