friends of dufferin grove park
City Playgrounds, Issues

We've assembled a few bits about the playground issue to give an idea of its scope and composition...

On this page:

Editorial: Making the Playground Safe

City Continues Playground Removal Program
posted November 9, 2004

One of the things the park's research arm, CELOS, received through a freedom of information request, after a long delay, is the 1999 playground inspection records for all city parks, including our own. These inspections followed former Mayor Mel Lastman's 1998 motion that all park playgrounds should be "upgraded" to meet new 1998 standards (backed, not by the government, but by an association of mainly manufacturers, almost half of them not located Canada). The verdicts of the whirlwind inspections led to the removal of 48 entire park playground structures and the disappearance of additional playground pieces from almost every park in the city, at the cost, so far, of just over $6 million. Read more >>

CCA Pressure-Treated Wood and Playground Structures

posted August 5, 2004

From "It seems to us that the same "panic button" that circulated the unscientific, unproven idea that arsenic is so dangerous is the same "panic button" that the media circulated that playgrounds are so dangerous." Read an article entitled CCA Pressure-Treated Wood and Playground Structures by an expert. Read more >>

Playground Removal

The Dufferin Park Playground. Will it survive?
posted August 5, 2004

From our Newsletter, May, 2004. For some years now, the playgrounds of Toronto have been removed at a breakneck rate, some to be replaced, some left bare. This virus began with the day cares, moved to the schools, and then began to affect the parks. It is caused by the city's wholesale adoption of the revised playground standards of the Canadian Standards Association. This is a voluntary association of over 90% manufacturers, with a bit less than 10% of its members from government or from industry associations. Oddly, almost half of the membership Canadian Standards Association is not Canadian at all. There are many members from Taiwan, for example, and Hong Kong, and the U.S. - most of them, of course, manufacturers of goods that they want to sell us. The Parks and Recreation Division has by now spent about $6.5 million to do these removals and buy new equipment, with an additional $11 million going to day cares for the same thing.

The consensus is that most of the new structures are physically and imaginatively unchallenging to children. More and more, we see children scratching in the sand with a stick, beside these expensive new playgrounds - because making patterns in the sand is still more challenging than playing in these dull "safety playgrounds." Maya Litman, a mother of three young children and a play analyst, has taken on the task of slowing down the destruction of what she calls "much-loved playgrounds." She had now collected more than two thousand signatures of people who want to resist the current playground fad, and she's hoping to present the signatures to Mayor David Miller before the end of May.

Maya has a list of the next playgrounds scheduled for removal - she says the Grange and Hillcrest are due this year and we're due next year. But city staff person Jamie Warren, who is in charge of this process, says we won't be up until 2006. This buys us a little time to work against the disappearance of our "much-loved" play equipment.

Maya is very knowledgeable about all stages of this replacement disease. She says that one of the painful ironies of the "safety playgrounds" is that they're not very safe anyway - teachers are telling her that more kids get hurt now than formerly, maybe because they have to take silly risks to get any excitement at all, playing among these dull structures. To get in touch with Maya, e-mail her at

Old Kind and New Kind...

Old Kind: Huge, complex, great for all ages. Encourages imagination and creativity. New Kind: Colourful, but boring. Tiny, unstimulating and unchallenging. (Thanks to for the photos.)

Harbourfront Playground

posted August 5, 2004

Here is a letter from one of our neighbours, Erella Ganon.

Harbourfront Playground

Here is a picture of the playground at harbourfront.

There used to be a fantastic playground at harbourfront that engaged dozens of kids at once. It was a hub of laughter and activity, engaging kids of all ages, with a t-bar climbing ropes and a variety of slides and levels.

This one is more specific.

It is like a hyphen that leads no where.

Notice that this photo was taken 2 days ago on a gloriously sunny day. Evidently there are no children between 2 and 4 which are the range that this playground set is directed to.

What do we want the kids that were climbing on the nearby benches to do?


St.Clair/Atlas, Graham, Hillcrest Parks

posted August 5, 2004

Some notes from Maya Litman:

Interesting, I was told by a few people of this new playground going in at St. Clair and Atlas. One woman would not sign my petition (at Hillcrest). She thought maybe the new playgrounds (Graham included) are better, and safer. She wasn't totally against the idea. She agreed there isn't enough community input, and there are other problems, as well… Anyhow, I drove over to check out Graham Park.

I only spent a quick moment (kids were in car) but it was noteworthy.

I see what the woman meant by "senior park". The park consisted of monkey bars and a variety of climbers. At first glance it wasn't terrible. It's certainly much better than Sibelius. Of course, that's not saying much!

However, I noted the following:

1) Same awful swings as everywhere else (very short chain).

2) Same low, bumpy slide as in most parks. (Like Christie Pitts)

3) Same chintzy, plastic, cheap materials.

4) Climbers were ok, but too low to be interesting to older children (older than 8, maybe 9) and not nearly as sophisticated as the old style climbers. Still better than age 3 or 4!

5) Cutting back on awful yellow and blue eyesore colours. This one is more subdued, all in earth-happy green!

Overall, North York is getting "better" playgrounds than anything downtown.

So, besides getting signatures (close to 100 today), the petition is getting people talking, and wanting to learn more.

More people are commenting and noticing that wooden structures were softer and wider so more forgiving in terms of injuries than the thin, hard new metal stuff. It was such a pleasure to easily follow my kids up the climber, stand on the wide platforms, slide with them together down the slide. New slides are so narrow, many adults (and kids) can't fit because our hips are too wide! Clearly, they are for young kids, only.

One person told me his kid has been noticing how obese many kids are. He commented that his friends hardly move because they have nowhere to play, and that's why he thinks they are so fat! And that, from an 11 year old!

Once again, I was both shocked and happy to see SO MANY OLDER KIDS (9-13 for sure) at Hillcrest Park tonight, having a blast, climbing on everything and running all over the place. I doubt you would see that age group at the "new, improved" Graham Park.


Denloe Public School

posted August 5, 2004

Some more notes from Maya Litman:

Today I had a very interesting conversation with a woman who sits on the Board of Directors of the Daycare at Denloe Public School.

She said to me that following a few years of severe harassment, aggravation and thousands upon thousands of their community monies spent, "we have decided we are pulling our playground out altogether. We are not rebuilding. In a year from now, they'll tell us it's inappropriate. No matter what changes we make, they will be obsolete in a year."

Here is an example of what their community has been going through:

Jeff Eliot Playground Inspectors came last summer to inspect and told them to make certain changes. He returned soon after, (about a couple of months) declaring that CSA had come out with new specifications and additional changes were required. She was livid and inquired why he couldn't have postponed the initial visit. (Even I knew that new CSA standards were being introduced in July, 2003).

We have questions:

1) Why is Jeff Eliot the only playground inspection company for all of TDSB?

2) Why does Jeff Eliot charge $250/visit when public inspectors charge or earn $30/hour? And all playground inspectors public or private have the same training and credentials.

3) My source at Denloe suspects the playground inspectors spend more time at daycares in rich communities because every visit they can demand changes and make more money.

4) I have spoken to many daycares and every one says they keep shelling out money and following the rules without questioning. When I speak to them, they consistently tell me "Please don't quote me. We are terrified that we will lose our license."

Deposition to the City

posted August 5, 2004

... by The Playground Lobby for Active Youth (Maya's Group):

It's spring and children everywhere are heading outside…to disappearing playgrounds! Millions of Toronto tax dollars have been wasted demolishing hundreds of exciting, challenging playgrounds, replacing them with dull, developmentally poor play junk! ... Read more >>

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