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News 2001

posted October 15, 2001

The Rain Shelter

Rain shelter birthday party

Just before the last municipal election, Councillor Mario Silva offered some playground improvements to the park, and the rain shelter was part of the package. Now, just before the next election, it's almost ready. The pagoda-like structure is more gorgeous than the playground meeting requested, and it fits into the park very well. The electrical line is the last thing to go in (the original playground meeting had asked for an electrical outlet for the playground area). The parks department had to send their "trencher" machine to dig a trench all the way over to the electrical box by the marsh fountain. That's because the only other electrical lines in the playground area are the lines for the "morality lights," and they're on a light sensor and therefore unsuitable for connecting an electrical outlet.

Any family or group that wants to use the rain shelter's electrical outlet for a picnic (for example, for your coffee maker) please contact Lily Weston (392-0913)for a key.

posted May 15, 2001

Forestry Department: our heroes.

Every spring there is a quest for new tipi poles for the sand pit. This year the Forestry Department staff have been doing intensive tree pruning at Dufferin Grove park. The staff have gone to extra trouble to pick out the straightest branches and trim them down. So now we have a great new supply of tipi poles. In addition, one of the forestry workers, Bruce Johnston, is a scout leader. In his lunch hour Mr.Johnston built a sample scout tipi beside the sandpit, to show the most solid way to make such a structure. He also gave us good advice on where to get scout literature showing different kinds of branch structures. We'll have some posted on the park fence soon.

posted June 2001

Rain shelter danger averted

The seats in the rain shelter (by the playground) were made to be storage boxes, by request of the community planning meeting. Unfortunately, the tops of the boxes were built with very heavy lumber, and with slits between the boards, so the rain could get in. When the lids were opened, nothing held them and they fell back with such force on their hinges that the boxes ripped themselves apart. But the most serious problem was that if the lids had come down on anyone's hand as they tried to use the storage, their hand would have been terribly hurt. After a spring meeting with the planning department staff (who approved this design), there was no solution. But the city carpenters have come to our rescue. They have installed lighter plywood tops, held with a chain, and the storage benches are now ready to be used. One of the benches contains an electrical outlet: if your group needs to plug in a coffee maker for your picnic, or if you want to store some cooking equipment ahead of time when you plan a campfire gathering, you can borrow a key to the boxes from the staff at 392-0913. The fee for these rain shelter amenities is $10 (but if it starts to rain you have to let other people share the shelter until the rain stops).

posted December 2001

Removing playground equipment

The playground slide was removed on November 28, after yet another child fell off the unsafe top platform and had to spend an evening at Sick Kids Hospital. The mother of this child said she was afraid to call the city and complain in case they would just remove the slide and leave the playground with no slide at all. And that's exactly what happened. However, Councillor Silva's assistant Ana Bailao called the parks department and was told by the director, Don Boyle, that the playground will get a new slide in the spring.

Although other parents had complained about the slide in the past, the city inspector always said the slide was not a hazard, judged by the new "CSA" rules. So because our slide didn't offend the CSA rules, even if many children fell off it, city staff felt that the city would not have a problem with liability. (Hard to believe, isn't it?) On the other hand, if playground equipment does not meet the "CSA standards," even if there has not been any problem with it, it may be removed. (The CSA is an association of the same manufacturers who are ready to sell us all the replacement equipment.)

That's why, on the same day as our slide was removed, the big trucks went over to Trinity-Bellwoods park and removed their wooden play structure (it was much like ours, which is still in place). According to the playground users there, no one was warned about this beforehand, nor was their citizens' Park Committee told. (Beyond that, the new CSA standards do not apply to any structures built before 1998, but this guideline was not being followed here.) A new plastic-coated metal structure has been installed, again apparently without getting community advice in making a selection from the manufacturer's catalogue.

Playground climber - still there

To make sure that no such unexpected event occurs here at Dufferin Grove Park, playground users and their parents will have several morning meetings at the rink house in early February (with juice, tea, and cookies) to discuss playground issues. Meantime we've asked the city staff to post all playground-related bulletins and plans on the rink house bulletin board WELL IN ADVANCE of any action to clear out the playgrounds. The new parks manager of our area, James Dann, has agreed to this.

One example of problems with "CSA" standards: the rules say that the ground under any equipment should be soft enough so a fall doesn't hurt too much, break bones etc. If a park can't afford the new synthetic rubber playground floorings (very expensive, very hard to maintain, and maybe flammable), the park can use wood mulch. Easy, right? Wrong. Besides putting splinters in little ankles, knees, hands, and all the other exposed skin of active kids, the mulch offers good cover for broken glass, needles, sharp metal, and other trash. Spilled juice and food, concealed in the wood chips, can set up little microcultures of multiplying germs, and the Toronto rats - big and getting bigger - can set up their tunnels under the wood chips, to get to bits of decomposing food.

All this in the name of additional safety. Back to the drawing board?


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