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Some notes on the second community resource group meeting, May 17 2017, by Jutta:
Who was there:

from the neighbourhood: Colin, Anne, Ellen, Kathryn, Ben, David, Tamara, Mary Ellen, Chang. (9)

Missing: Robin, Irena, Yves.

Observer: Jutta. (1)

Staff: LURA Consulting: Niki and Liz; Capital Projects: Katy and Peter; Parks: Lennox (Parks supervisor Wards 14 and 18) and Nadia (the new general supervisor for Toronto West); Recreation: Sue (rec manager for Toronto/East York), Keith (new rec supervisor for Ward 18) and Sofia (community rec programmer for Dufferin Grove). (9) Councillor’s office: Ana (councillor) and Liliana (assistant). (2)

Liz said that as a result of the comments at the last CRG meeting that “nothing is broken in this park,” staff decided to call the project an “improvement plan” not a “revitalization.”

Capital projects staff presentation

City staff Katy from capital projects was the main presenter. She said that there are three reasons for making changes in and around the park rink house:

(1) regulatory requirements

(2) “State of Good Repair” (SOGR) inventory

(3) better operations

Katy listed three possible approaches:

(1) do nothing

(2) do the minimum listed in the SOGR (“right now the building doesn’t respond to many requirements and needs”)

(3) building redevelopment

Question about access to the studies:

Resource group members Kathryn and Anne said they had a hard time knowing what was at issue since they can’t see the feasibility study nor the SOGR report. Peter (capital projects supervisor) said it “was unfortunate that these documents got blacked out” but if they were not blacked out that “could jeopardize the competition.”

The search for a consultant:

Katy said that the request for proposals (RFP) will not yet be to hire a builder, but rather to hire a consulting company that will provide a team, including an architect, a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and landscape architects. “Everything depends on the work of the consultant. Whether the city has to tear down the building depends on the consultant’s opinion of the scope of work.”

The city’s timeline means that “after the RFP is issued, it will be in the marketplace for about three weeks.” Both Katy and Peter emphasized that they have no definite idea of what should be done at this point. “We want to work with the consultant but at this point we know nothing for sure.” Once the consultant says what the new plan should look like, “then the conversation really starts.”

Resource group member Ben said that it sounded to him like what the city wanted the consultant to do is so nonspecific that the city should put out a “request for quals” (qualifications), not an RFP. That would mean the consultants would be assessed on their capacity to do work of this kind, and related experience elsewhere, rather than on specific proposals for addressing the issues at Dufferin Grove. Peter said that method was a possibility but that’s not usually how the city does these things.

The consultant would be hired at the end of August. Katy said that since there had been an interest by the resource group in being part of the RFP evaluation process, the city was willing to set up an evaluation team, maybe by mid-June, consisting of 3 city members and two resource group members. However this would involve a lot of volunteer work. “An RFP document usually has about 200 pages” so there would be a lot to read. Then there would be three days of meetings with purchasing staff to discuss the proposals, but those meetings would have to be held be on weekdays daytime.

City staff suggested that the resource group members pull straws to select three of their members to be on the evaluation committee (two regulars and one alternate). The three that were chosen would have to commit to the times, and would also have to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Resource group member Mary Ellen asked the other resource group members to put up their hands if they would be willing to serve, but no one put up their hand. There were questions from other CRG members why the meetings would have to be during workday time, and why the whole committee couldn’t sign non-disclosure agreements so that they would read the SOGR list and the Feasibility Study, to find out the city’s reasoning. Peter said he was doubtful that could happen, and that the meetings had to be daytime because purchasing staff only meet during regular working hours.

Comments from the city councillor:

Ana (councilor) said that she thinks this is an exciting project. “Staff came to me and said there was a list of work to be done on the northwest corner, and maybe it could be rolled in with other improvements.” Ana said that it would be “an opportunity to maybe add a second floor, maybe make some artist space for groups like Clay and Paper…groups like this one know how to run this space…do we want to decide beforehand what we want or have it all decided for us?”

Committee member Ellen asked “what is the budget?” Peter said they know there are funds to pay the consultant but no other funds have been definitely allocated. There were some comments from various committee members that they felt the plan was too vague for the city to issue an RFP. Peter said he and Katy could take that suggestion back to their colleagues, “maybe go with a pre-qual or a competition,” but “that would add another layer, delaying the process.” Ana (councilor) said “there’s so much that needs to be done.”

Recreation staff presentation:

Since meeting time was getting short, Liz asked the rec staff to give their presentation about the park programs. Keith (Ward 18 rec supervisor) went quickly through a slide show that took less than 10 minutes, and Nadia (general Parks supervisor for West Toronto went even faster through a list of what her parks staff do. Resource group member Kathryn went through a list of park programs that she felt had gone downhill in the past few years.

Comments from the recreation manager:

Sue (rec manager) said that there have been some changes but that she could assure committee member that there had been no budget cuts to any of the Dufferin Grove programs. She highlighted two distinct improvements: “all the staff wear uniforms now” and “now we know where the money is going.” She said one important improvement in a rink house renovation would be providing office space for full-time staff like Sofia, since the only staff now working at the park are part-time. Full-time staff working out of an on-site office could reach different kinds of people who they could ask for ideas about the park, beyond the people currently on the community resource group.

Closing and reminder about pop-up information session June 1 at the farmers' market:

Liz thanked the people at the meeting. Before she declared it closed at 8.40 p.m., she reminded people that the city (with LURA) would be running several “pop-up information sessions” about the project, and the first one would be on June 1 at the farmers’ market.


CRG members' comments on this report:

Comment from Anne:

“A couple of things that seemed important to me are missing--but then I wasn't trying to take notes!

-Kathryn's point about the importance of what/how questions are asked to the public, concern that the way info is presented pre-determines responses -CRG request for RFP finalists to come present their ideas to us instead of us trying to fit into standard selection processes.”


Comment from Chang:

“The only thing missing from your notes, perhaps, is Kathryn's point about Katy's presentation of the "3 options" (1. no change; 2. minor changes; 3. total rebuild), which I thought was important.

Kathryn remarked that the City's presentation was obviously skewed in favour of Option 3 (total rebuild), yet the City did not acknowledge this bias. I am pretty sure we all noticed what Katy articulated: the slide explaining the 3 options used specific graphic design elements that encourage the audience (us) to view Option 3 as more desirable. Also noteworthy is that Katy did not deny Kathryn's point.

I realize that your Notes are for everyone including Lura and the City, so you're striving for an objective tone. But I also think you could include Kathryn's comment because it exposes not only the City's bias in favour of a total rebuild, but also its tendency not to take the community's concerns too seriously (although that may change after that last meeting).”


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