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From Jutta Mason To Councillor Ana Bailao

August 8, 2011

Dear Ana,

Two weeks ago I called you to update you on the situation at Dufferin Grove Park. You said you would be meeting with the recreation director on July 28. Six days after that meeting you called to let me know that the situation is better. I mentioned that it is not better. Since I havenít heard back from you after your August 3 call, here is a short summary of where things stand, and a request for your help to save the rest of the summer program.

The summary:

1. As was forecast in May and June, there are not enough part-time City staff to run the summer Dufferin Grove programs.

2. Because the playground cafe has had to stay closed, replaced by a smaller list of offerings at the rink house, the donations from food this past week are down to half of the normal ($1080 instead of $2080). The friendly social gatherings around food at the playground have been replaced by a fast-food atmosphere, as children and caregivers are forced to make the hot trek back and forth to the rink house for food. The pool is operating completely separately from the recreation programs, with new or inexperienced staff that are not familiar with running the 'scene' that our community is used too.

3. Experienced staff are being told they have to go through multiple layers of supervisory checks for any task that is not strictly scheduled. All work is supposed to be pre-approved, removing the flexibility needed to keep the Dufferin Grove programs running.

4. The long-term experience of the staff is being ignored. The mistrustful approach of management is shocking, and it is causing further damage to the program.

5. A week ago I e-mailed the recreation supervisor suggesting that we should talk about all this. As of today, she has not responded, despite my close involvement in all aspects of this program for 17 years. Her boss, the recreation manager, has cancelled a meeting about cash handling for the food donations, and no new date has been set. As of today, the recreation supervisor has stopped all CELOS-funded work by city staff. She wants them to sign in as city-paid workers for all their park work. Does that mean that the farmersí market assistance, Friday Night Supper, pizza days, garden support, and other CELOS-supported programs should be cancelled? Or that these programs will continue, but the City will be paying at least $2000 a week more?

My request:

Please ask PFR management to set up a meeting as soon as possible, between the parties involved in running the Dufferin Grove programs: city staff, CELOS, and yourself (as the elected representative of the people who use the park). Most urgently, I am concerned about todayís decision to stop CELOS from directing donations back into park programs. If the existing programs are maintained, the recreation supervisorís new approach will cause Dufferin Grove to go over its budget. To prevent more unfavourable publicity of the kind we saw in the Star this morning, CELOS wants to keep the food-related donations going back into the park. We need your help to work this out, and to clear up the current confusion.

Park users are unhappy, as you know, and asking a lot of questions. I heard this morning that meetings are being planned. I will post this e-mail at the park and on the dufferinpark.ca website to provide follow-up. I hope you can represent the interests of the park users to help solve these problems.


Archived update #1:

Update: Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailao met with Recreation Director Janie Romoff on Thursday July 28. The councillor said that she was told that everything was working out well. But it isn't. As of August 9, 2011, CELOS has no way of directing the food donation funds back into Dufferin Grove programs. That might mean no funds for farmers' market support, Friday Night Supper, pizza days, gardening. etc. Or it might mean that the park will use city funds for all of it and the park will go far over budget. Here is the recent correspondence with the recreation supervisor. Here is the update for Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailao. If you want to let her know your views on this update, you can reach her here: Councillor_Bailao@toronto.ca.


Archived update #2

Update: Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailao met with Recreation Director Janie Romoff on Thursday July 28. The councillor said that she was told that everything was working out well. But we said it isn't. So Councillor Bailao set up a meeting with Recreation Manager Kelvin Seow and Recreation Supervisor Wendy Jang on August 11. We told her that the latest rules from the supervisor had now even made it impossibly complicated to buy the groceries the cooks need for park food. After over an hour of difficult conversation, the manager and the supervisor agreed to (1) let the on-site staff go back to buying the groceries; (2) let CELOS handle the donation funds until the end of the summer; (3) include Dufferin Grove staff and CELOS at all meetings; (4) find enough staff to run the park to the end of the summer. That means that the playground cafe can re-open on Friday August 12, and Friday Night Supper is ON. Here is the recent correspondence with the recreation supervisor. Here is the update for Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailao. If you want to let her know your views, you can reach her here: Councillor_Bailao@toronto.ca.


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