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Community commentary (1)

Community commentary (2)

Response from the ombudsman

We have had hundreds of complaints from the Dufferin Grove Park patrons and surrounding community about operational decisions being made by Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR) with respect to redeployment of their employees and related labour relations issues.

The Ombudsman can investigate public complaints about decisions, actions or recommendations made or omitted in the course of implementing City policies and administrating City services. However, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the Dufferin Grove Park matters raised above. We note that PFR management is entitled and has the responsibility to redeploy their supervisors as it sees fit.

Despite this fact and because we have had so many complaints, we made enquiries. We remain satisfied that these issues are not within our jurisdiction to investigate.

We have been informed that the delivery of service by PFR to Dufferin Park will not be affected by the change in supervisors.

While we understand and empathize with your concerns, we would ask that you cease sending us correspondence and making calls on an issue we cannot pursue.

February 19:
J. B. wrote:

I understand that your mandate is to investigate systemic concerns as well as individual complaints. I don't believe my email mentioned any redeployment of local supervisors. My email (which I have attached below) concerned the Parks department's apparent policy of centralization, which is being undertaken despite the concerns of the local councillor and the opposition of the Dufferin Grove community. What mandate or authority is there for a policy that could destroy the vitality of this very special park?

On May 15, 2009, City Council received a PFR report that sought "approval for the principles of equitable access, quality, inclusion and capacity building as a foundation for the development of a City-wide, multi-year Recreation Service Plan." The report defines "capacity building" as the creation of programs that "create a sense of community, belonging, and vitality." The report's proposed work plan promised that "a strategy to engage staff, key stakeholders, and the broader community in the development of the Service Plan will take place over the next several months."

Nine months later, no such community engagement has taken place. Instead, a strategy of community disengagement has been taking place. While I did not mention the redeployment of a local supervisor in my first email, I would agree that the reassignment of the senior staffer who worked most closely with the neighbourhood appears to contradict the principle of community engagement that was mandated by City Council.

Therefore, my concern is not so much about one staffing decision, but is rather the failure of PFR to uphold its commitment to public engagement and its apparent indifference to the staff/community partnership that is responsible for the unique "sense of community, belonging, and vitality" that exists at Dufferin Grove. This commitment was a key part of Council approval for restructuring, and without such community engagement, PFR appears to be acting against Council's mandate.

M.E.wrote to the ombudsman:

As a citizen, homeowner and teacher who can get to Dufferin Grove Park in a just a few minutes walk from my home or my school, I am deeply concerned about the current state of affairs. Dufferin Grove Park has become, for me, an example of the potential for our community to get off the computer and build a relationship with each other, we can move from isolation to cooperation. It has become a place where I send my students to find meaningful connections and volunteer opportunities and also a place I can just 'hang out' in with my own friends. It is welcoming and there is a 'vibe' that is hard to describe, though I think it has something to do with the goodwill and creative, collective thinking between residents and some city staff.

And now all that is built is threatened.

I urge you. Please. Listen carefully to the people in my community. Take action that restores and builds upon the positive energy, commitment, thoughtfulness and respect between us and the city staff. Our parks are not Walmarts. Our trees are not parts of a machine. Please do not prioritize simplistic, centralized, efficient short term solutions over the long term, complex and ever-changing needs and dreams of people.

Assimilation will be the end of dreams.

And if we can't sit under a tree in a park and dream, dream of a better day, then what hope do our dreams for the rest of the City have?

E. C. wrote

Thank you for your FORM LETTER to my carefully composed one. I notice it is the same one that everyone else receives.

If you, the office of the ombudsman cannot intervene, who can? Who can represent us, the people of toronto in this case? What tino and other volunteers have created at the park is essential and brilliant and worth keeping. Isn't this what the office of the ombudsman was created to address?

His expertise and personal attention is being undervalued here. We value his perspective and want him to remain at the post he's developed and perfected.

Please help us. Clearly this park is essential to many of us and we want to see it continue to thrive.

Peasse advise us to what could be the next step. I feel as though the department of Parks and Rec is unresponsive to the people. We are their bosses, after all. Aren't we?

S. B. wrote:

We find this move very upsetting considering the worker in question's loyalty and devotion to people and parks over many years.

Please understand that my family and I have been a part of this burgeoning community effort for many years and have difficulty accepting the Parks department position on this. How is it possible that the few parks in this city that are family friendly and are creating significant space for people from all walks of life are being threatened. Have we done something wrong and can you help us work this out?

K. M. wrote:

Dear Ms. Crean

I live in Ward 18 and my children have grown up playing in Dufferin Grove Park. The community there is, unfortunately, unique in the city. I say unfortunately because I have found no other park in this city with such a devoted group of volunteers and staff who work so closely with the community to create a truly unique communal public space.

I go there throughout the year with my family and I have found that people come from all over the city because the services, the facilities and the community at Dufferin Grove are so unique and appealing.

I am not surprised that the city bureaucracy would not like this arrangement. It runs against all the natural tendencies of bureaucracy who want, and often require, that systems and procedures are streamlined and repeated in all locations so that everything can run smoothly with the minimum amount of supervision and staff required. Because Dufferin Grove Park is truly a public space that is shaped and molded to suit the community around it, rather than being pressed into the same cookie-cutter shape as every other park and facility in the city, it requires individual and unique attention. I understand that that is time consuming and, I am sure, annoying to the bureaucrats. However, the public spaces in this city are not meant to be designed for the ease and efficiency of the bureaucracy. They are meant to be run for the health and well-being of its citizenry and their local communities.

Please help us save this amazing community. Stop the powers that be from removing the few bureaucrats who have the vision to work with the staff and volunteers at Dufferin Grove. Far from shutting it down, the city should using Dufferin Grove as a template for what our parks could be.

T. A. wrote:

I am a resident and active community member who regularly utilizes the Dufferin Grove Park facilities. I have come to love and respect the community members and staff who make this a very successful organization. It is, for a great many people, a true heart and hub of healthy and positive social participation in the local community. According to myself and many, many other community members Dufferin Grove Park has been a very successful project which, in great part, is due to a committed, passionate, and locally relevant team of staff and community leaders.

In short: Dufferin Grove Park has something that works and that we love... and this is now being threatened by the decisions and policies of Parks and Recreation management; specifically, the intended removal of Tino deCastro and the associated, and increasingly apparent, systematic program of the City's centralization of power and decision making.

I of course, here, speak for myself, but my voice and opinions are echoed by countless other community members of Dufferin Grove Park. Many of these opinions and concerns I am sure you have already received, but I am also certain there are many, many more concerned individuals who, though strongly opposed to the present actions of Parks and Recreation management, do not raise their voices in protest because they feel they will fall on deaf ears. While I do not encourage such inaction I do understand it in the present context. Most importantly, the impending actions of the Parks and Recreation management will further encourage such sentiments of powerlessness in the community members affected. Socially healthy communities can only emerge from community members who feel empowered; who feel that they have some measure of direct agency in determining their local conditions. The removal of community partner and leader Tino deCastro (and the resulting further centralization of the power of determination in the City) can only demoralize the community members of Dufferin Grove park and convince them that despite the partnerships they have built over many years of hard work they do not, in fact, have a genuine and legitimate access to self determination.

Yes, community organizations exist within and are responsible to the larger management structure of the City, but great efforts must be extended to ensure that local communities can exercise sufficient self determination. Only in this way can we hope to empower communities to make locally relevant decisions which reflect the unique culture of the local participating population; healthy communities are lived, not managed from afar.

As such, many local community members have sought to protect the hard fought level of self determination, the work of many years with vital partnerships, by raising our current concerns with you, the ombudsman.

Sadly, I have followed your correspondence (posted online) and am greatly displeased. Your response (which I have attached below for your consideration) was at the very least most dissatisfying and at the very worst almost dismissive. Yes, you say that you looked into the issue by making "enquiries," but that you only found assurances that the delivery of services to Dufferin Grove park by PFR management will not be affected by a change in supervisors. Of course PFR promises that a change in organization will result in no change to the community; we, the concerned members of the community, could have told you that. That is exactly the problem - a voice further removed from the community (PFR's voice) is being listened to with greater attention (and given greater power) than the voice of the community in question.

I can only agree with Jutta Mason's correspondence with you that you needed to ask us, make enquiries to us, about what changes the PFR policy would effect. To us, the change is this; that Tino will not be there, that the same well established, hardworking and successful team of staff and community leaders will not be there, that the same relationships of partnership that have taken years to build will not be there - In short, that an important part of the dynamic community that has taken years to be built will no longer be there; this is change enough that is not desired by the Dufferin Grove community. These are changes that do not represent the wishes of the community nor are they changes that respect the community's need for healthy self determination.

Again, in agreement with Jutta Mason, I must ask you if PFR will not hear us, if the ombudsman is powerless beyond hearing us, then who do we turn to in order to have our concerns legitimized and addressed? Please help us to get our voices heard and respected.

Most importantly, help us to ensure that the voices and wills of the people of the Dufferin Grove park community are actually matched with an appropriate power of self determination. From the many years of hard work by many people this community can now be called "Our community"; it is our home, it is unique, it represents us, and it is beautiful. Hopefully, you and others beyond our particular community will understand why we are so passionate to protect it; and if we are able to keep it, we would love to share it with you.

A. M. wrote, Feb 25, 2010

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I am writing to express my concern of recent changes in policy, processes direction and management relations in the relationship between the Parks and Recreation Department and the community volunteers and Friends of Dufferin Grove Park and Friends of Christie Pitts Park.

A park can be an unwatched, quiet, dark, place to sell and use drugs and a hide-out for criminals and vandals, as Dufferin Grove Park was 15 years ago. Or it can be a well-maintained haven for children, a focus of community, a centre of sports, art, learning, environmental stewardship and commerce and general fun as it is now. It is community groups and volunteers, through co-operation with the Parks and Recreation Department that have transformed this Park. Similar transformations have been occuring at Christie Pitts.

Beyond the clear social value of creating a communal public space and safe area to be and play, there is great economic value to the city from the way this park has been run. When there are community dinners, arts events and sports events in the park most nights, there is no place for criminals and drug dealers. This means less cost for policing and park clean up, higher property values in the area (more tax base). It has also led to more people spending time in the area, increasing the customers at local stores and malls. There is also the untold benifit of providing recreation to children and teens who might not otherwise get it. It may save the city much if they have alternatives to dangerous or risky behaviour.

The kind of neighbourhood cooperation and community created, where Park Staff bake pizzas for volunteer-organized community dinners or clean ice for community led hockey tournamants is an example the kind of modern city Toronto sees itself as and markets itself to the world as.

Please ensure that this city stays forward-thinking and protect these important programs from turf wars, short-term politics or petty fights.

From K.M. to the editor of, March 5 2010

I just caught wind of the problems at Dufferin Grove and tried to figure what out the issues are without devoting too much time to it, so maybe I've missed something. (I'm from the east end and don't see much of what happens at the park except the odd Friday in the summer. I just admire the way it operates.)

I am not sure about how to deal with how front line staff are managed and particularly how they are directed not to be critical of upper management. I can't quite imagine how front line staff knowledge of upper management plans could be abused, but in any case you would think a simple directive should be adequate.

As far as the issue of staff handling money, I thought of a way to uninvolve them: Tokenize the payment currency. I thought of a bunch of options involving various convoluted schemes. The simplest one is creating a coloured paper token (maybe occasionally changing design or colour to take inventory.) A few community volunteers could be selling them at events. People could sell them amongst themselves at other times, so that there doesn't constantly need to be a volunteer on site. When a transaction needed to happen, staff would deposit them into a slotted locked box which the patron would witness. The community treasurer would periodically retrieve them. There might be some slippage, maybe even a few weirdos trying to forge them, but at least staff would not have any onus on them to account for money.

I suppose somebody else has thought of this already, but just in case I wanted to put this forward.

Response from the editor (Jutta), March 6 2010

Regarding the money, the puzzle that remains is -- what's the problem with using cash? It works well and the output is there for all to see, plus the receipts are all there. The current way of doing food, skate lending, swim diapers, etc. in the park actually gives far more oversight than is available in the day-to-day spending of the current PFR operating budget of $340 million.

And finding volunteers to sell/count/monitor the tokens would be yet another task to organize. If somebody wants to give a little unpaid time to the park, my feeling is they should plant something or play a song or read a story to some kids, whatever, i.e. give their gifts in a more substantial, interesting form. Because at the end of the day, the more that people monitor each other for compliance, the less time they have for shaping something beautiful -- which is why we're put on this earth, isn't it?

From Mark Federman, March 5 2010

I don't know if it might be useful to you in helping to frame some of the conversations you are having with the City, but I have just posted an analysis of how I read the conflict through a lens of organizational analysis, based on my recently completed doctoral research (defence in June).

Let me disclose that I do organizational therapy in these sorts of situations; my alerting you to my post in no way is intended to solicit business, as it were. If you can make use of any of the concepts, ideas or approaches, more power to you.

Good luck in your struggle with the City; the Dufferin Grove Park community is an exemplar of how things should be done.

The post is at:

The Case of Dufferin Grove Park, by Mark Federman

The dysfunctions of bureaucracy are widely documented throughout the critical management literature, and in books and documentaries like The Corporation. These dysfunctions are most certainly etched in the minds of countless individuals who spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with the ensuing frustrations, both as inside members, and outside victims, of bureaucracies. But while bureaucracies were noted by early 20th century economist and sociologist, Max Weber, as a superior way of organizing work for maximum efficiency, they have become anything but that merely one hundred years later. The case of Dufferin Grove Park and its headlong clash with City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry, and Recreation bureaucracy is particularly illustrative: it not only highlights bureaucratic dysfunctions; it serves as an almost too-perfect example of using Valence Theory as a frame for organizational healing.

The complicated facts of the case are, by now, well-known thanks to reportage in the press, and through the community organization, Friends of Dufferin Grove Park (FDGP). The principles being applied by the City, and specifically Parks, Forestry, and Recreation (PFR, headed by its General Manager, Brenda Patterson, with Councillor Janet Davis as the Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee) are clearly BAH – bureaucratic, administrative, and hierarchical in nature. They go something like this:

  • 1. There are two, distinct organizations involved in this issue: one is a community organization defined loosely by self-identified association (i.e., those who consider themselves members of the Dufferin Grove community are, de facto, members); the other is a City department whose members are defined according to formal employment contracts.
  • 2. A member of a “formal” (in this case, meaning paid employment) organization is considered by that organization to owe his/her first allegiance to that formal organization, strictly according to terms set out in the employment contract (in this case, the collective agreement between the City and its workers’ union, CUPE Local 79).
  • 3. Organizational members are interchangeable in a particular “office” (job function or station) so long as they have equivalent technical specifications; individual personalities, dispositions, and other so-called soft skills are (for the purpose of job assignment) in effect, irrelevant.
  • 4. The City claims to be the agent for the public interest in the matter, which creates a problematic conflict of interest, since the “public” (specifically, FDGP) holds opinions that are diametrically opposite from those of its putative agent, namely, the City in the body of PFR. This is not dissimilar to an accused defendant being represented in court by the Crown. Nonetheless, the City is, bureaucratically and administratively, indeed the nominal representative of the public according to our rooted-in-the-13th-or-19th-century system of government (take your pick). One is left to contemplate whether this 13th- or 19th-century principle is useful in this instance of a problem in 21st-century Toronto.
  • 5. PFR is determined, seemingly at any cost to the community or effectiveness, to “reproduce its system of means” (Manuel Castells’s definition of a bureaucracy) by ensuring that all community-based organizations are structured, managed, and most of all, controlled in the same ways, strictly according to centrally determined policies and procedures. The department’s determination here is based on the presumption that all areas of the City should be treated equally. (Another analogy: As a good parent, to treat your children equitably do you treat them each exactly the same?)

It is all too clear that the conventional, BAH reading of this situation will not lead to a happy and healthy resolution of this situation. Were it not for the determination of FDGP, community programming in the Park would not have been initiated in the first place, and certainly would not sustain this current strife. Although it would not be obvious to the thinking of the bureaucratic personality, I would argue that by attempting to set identical standards that intend to “provide excellent service to residents throughout the City,” as Councillor Davis suggests, the City is, in fact, diminishing its capacity for innovation to provide quality services as and where they are needed. According to my research, bureaucracies are structurally incapable of creating innovation (and they’re incapable of perceiving quality, as well). It is only through UCaPP-style undertakings, such as FDGP in this case, that innovation can, and does, occur.

Valence Theory provides a very different understanding of the five issues I raised. Approaching the problem from a Valence Theory context enables more of the salient issues to become discussable, thereby fostering a quicker, more satisfying resolution to the problems at hand, and providing healing to the organizations involved.

1) Valence Theory maintains that there is no difference between internal and external constituencies. All members who share several of the five valence relationships (Economic, Socio-psychological, Identity, Knowledge, and Ecological) are members of the organization. Hence, City workers, officials in PFR, and community members of FDGP are all part of one valence organization—let’s call it Larger Dufferin Grove, for clarity’s sake. One could say, therefore, that there is an allegiance owed by all members to that larger, composite organization.

2) Specifically, the collective agreement and employment contracts in general define only the Economic valence relationship between one or more members and one particular organization, namely, the City. That organization is not Larger Dufferin Grove (although workers and the City are both constituent members of Larger Dufferin Grove; hence, there is a level of complexity here that is not contemplated in collective agreements). Thus, the collective agreement is, ultimately, not a useful complication in resolving this matter, since it serves to divide rather than unite the parties. As well, one key constituency of Larger Dufferin Grove – FDGP – is not a party to the collective agreement; thus, based on a principle of fundamental fairness, the collective agreement should not be used as a determining factor or justification for actions taken on behalf of Larger Dufferin Grove. Yes, this means that management’s assumed unilateral prerogative to control its employees essentially goes out the window. (Don’t worry, since under Valence Theory, collaborative leadership is far more effective and efficient.)

3) Since, according to Valence Theory, organizations are emergent from relationships among people, if you change the people, you change the organization. Specifically, by reassigning Ward 18 recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro to supervising cleaners at Metro Hall, Larger Dufferin Grove has been changed. The principle here is relatively straight-forward to understand: people are not machine parts; they are not interchangeable according to similarity in technical specifications.

4) The term, “conflict of interest” has been bandied about considerably in this circumstance, specifically pertaining to protecting against the potential for fiscal malfeasance (something with which the City is well acquainted). However, as I mentioned in point 4 above, there are clearly conflicted interests on the City’s part (specifically PFR, and even more specifically in the Office of its General Manager—and I am clearly distinguishing between the Office and the person of the GM, according to bureaucratic theory). Interestingly, throughout this entire matter, there is no venue for recognizing and reconciling the specific interests of Larger Dufferin Grove, as each of FDGP, PFR, and City workers represent the interests of their particular component organization (and yes, this is a tricky one to get one’s head around, but think about it for a minute or two because it’s a key concept to understand the distinction between Larger Dufferin Grove and each of its constituent sub-organizations).

5) Treating all communities and citizens fairly and equitably is not to treat them all the same, no matter how much bureaucratic principles would wish it so. A city like Toronto is diverse and complex. Hence, a complexity approach (which is neither a simplistic nor complicated approach) is required to resolve these sorts of issues.

So, where to start? According to Valence Theory, the order of priorities is as follows: Values, Tactility (effects), Relationships, Purpose, Goals & Objectives, and Tasks. The Larger Dufferin Grove organization must convene to create organizational values that are emergent from those of its participant members (and not vice versa). With underlying values commonly understood, the organization can then answer its tactility question: who do we want to touch, and how do we want to touch them today? This will reveal the specific effects that Larger Dufferin Grove will want to enable among all its component constituencies, via the five valence relationships. From an in-depth understanding of these effects and relationships, the specific purpose, goals, and objectives of what is to be accomplished will emerge and come into focus, and from these, the specific tasks that can be taken up by all members.

There are any number of venues and intervention techniques (facilitated through a competent organizational therapist; disclosure: this is what I do) through which this process of organizational healing can occur. However, I maintain that it is vitally important to change the language of interaction among Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, the Department of Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, and the City workers themselves in order to create a common ground of organizational healing for Larger Dufferin Grove.

Letter from K.M. to Councillor Paula Fletcher, chair of the Parks Committee. March 6 2010

I live in your ward. I understand you have political purview over City parks.

I wish there was a park like Dufferin Grove in our ward.

I have to agree with Jutta Mason, volunteer organizer at Dufferin Grove. Why should a positive community effort be wasting its time to fit the rules of a inflexible bureaucracy?

Mark Federman's more academic response comes to the same conclusion:

In a nutshell he suggests that it is unfair that the significant contribution of volunteers and City staff should be dashed because they cannot be absolutely controlled from an office at Metro Hall.

Friends of Dufferin Grove are stakeholders and should not be invalidated through a narrow interpretation of a collective agreement between only two of the stakeholders.

As Mr. Federman suggests, this approach is rooted in either 13th or 19th century thinking.

Can you help the City move into the 21st century?

Letter from Jutta Mason to K.M., March 6 2010

Thanks for copying us on this letter. I've posted it. So far, PFR management have insisted that Dufferin Grove programs will not be affected by any of management's recent actions. However, your attempt to figure out a workaround concerning the part-time staff's cash-handling (for skate lending, park food, and swim diapers, etc.) underlines the problem with management's warning of "conflict of interest" at the park. Straightforward transactions that make the park work so well are hobbled by this approach.

Beyond that, the atrophying of management's connection with their front-line staff and neighbourhoods is very worrying. I found out (by chance) that Councillor Fletcher commissioned a study on world-wide and local "community engagement" in parks, by a group whom I take to be Ryerson students. This inventory is being presented at a Parks committee meeting on Wednesday. agenda The Parks Service Plan is also on the menu.

The format of the committee meeting is a panel discussion without opportunity for public response. The Parks Service Plan -- meant to set the rules for what happens in parks until 2016 -- has the same formulaic and far-down-the-road approach to attracting public discussion as does the Recreation Service Plan.

This approach has to change.

March 6, 2010
Henrik Bechmann wrote to the Parks and Environment Committee:

Any organization’s major asset is its people

Parks, Forestry and Recreation is currently undergoing another re-organization (service plans) focussed on a directive from city council to create a plan for public engagement over the next several years.

The response of PFR management appears to be generally similar to past initiatives: develop a central plan, and deploy the plan through a more or less centralized command and control structure, based on elaborated policies and procedures.

There is an experiment in organization of PFR resources, which has been going on for some 17 years in Toronto now, which suggests a different and more successful model. This experiment is Dufferin Grove Park.

Dufferin Grove Park is widely recognized as one of the most successful parks in Toronto, as measured by popularity, variety of activities, and community involvement. It meets or exceeds PFR goals for a park resource.

What is not so well known is that the main reason for this success is a consistent core of staff (primarily recreation staff) that has assembled around this park. This staff complement consists of about 8 core people, and a dynamic staff pool of about 40 people. This staff collectivity has been developing for more than a decade, and represents at least 50 years of accumulated experience in park operations. It was accumulated and mentored by PFR’s Tino DeCastro, with the help of key community supporters.

  • The park has a cluster of complex and interrelated programs, including
  • the cob courtyard café,
  • the adventure playground,
  • campfires,
  • theatre and music events,
  • bake ovens,
  • the clubhouse,
  • the zamboni cafe (indoor, winters)
  • the skate lending during skating season,
  • the farmers’ market
  • and more

In addition park operations require staff interventions in many and varied social interactions revolving around these activities.

The staff skills, experience, and talent required to support these activities can only be accumulated over time, based on staff teamwork, sharing, and mentoring. In particular they are far too complex to be covered through incidental training and procedural manuals.

An important consequence of this reality is that the activities are too varied and complex to be centrally planned and controlled. Instead a decentralized model of stewardship is required, in which local staff are empowered and supported to deliver the programs, and are retained on a consistent basis over years at a time.

The Dufferin Park experience has shown that a park can be a rich “community centre without walls”, while consuming minimal resources in shared ways. The key idea is simple: provide a welcoming environment for play and socializing through good food, pleasant activities like campfires, and staff encouragement and support for community members.

In the normal course of events, the staff that has been so successful at Dufferin Grove Park for so many years would be promoted to more senior positions, so that they could mentor additional staff over a wider area to perform the same services to the public. Furthermore the lessons learned would be gradually incorporated into other venues (as the staff have already done at Wallace Emerson for example).
Instead, as I understand it, the staff is now being systematically and deliberately obstructed and dispersed by PFR management. Tino DeCastro (their recreation supervisor) has already been sidelined, and the remaining staff is currently being threatened with sanctions for various supposed infractions of “conflict of interest” policies, which have suddenly appeared (in spite of years of continuing and transparent operations of these very services). Once the dismantling of the local staff group is complete, this can only result in a drastic decay in the very fabric of the park that has made it so successful. It will also result in the loss of a repository of experience and knowledge within PFR that will be difficult or impossible to replace.

This constitutes in my opinion a huge waste of public resources and investment, and a wrong direction on the part of PFR management.

I have long pondered (and been puzzled by) the reasons for the apparent conflict (this is not the first instance) between Dufferin Park operations and PFR management. I have concluded that the core approaches of the two groups are incompatible: PFR management takes a centralized approach that depends on centralized command and control, and reliance on explicit policies and procedures, more or less making front line staff interchangeable. Dufferin Park relies on a consistent local collectivity of staff, which are empowered, supported, and incrementally, continuously upgraded with regard to their skills and abilities.

This conflict is a shame, as it appears to prevent PFR from recognizing and promoting approaches to park management that have been shown to be successful (and highly productive!) over what is now practically an entire generation of users.

I urge the members of the Parks and Environment Committee to direct PFR management to retain and protect the current Dufferin Park staff, and to take steps to incorporate lessons learned from the Dufferin Park experience into its other locations and programs.

March 12, 2010, from M.D. The spirit behind or intent behind conflict of interest legislation/rules is always to create transparency or to stop insiders from profiting...It is a real stretch to call any staff activity conflict of interest if we look at "practice" and intent. Conflict of interest laws were not designed with us in mind. We aren't running for profit companies, using city resources(mailing lists/clients). When I look at the wording, I see curtailing park activities as a misreading of both the actual wording and intent. The implication is I am using city resources for undisclosed purposes to create "profit". Conflict of interest is me using city user lists to telemarket my new "mcproduct" line, not the programming we do which benefits the local community.


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