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posted Sept.2, 2006

A BIG fence, instead of community hands:

See also Meeting The By-Law Blues and the editorial David And Goliath.

But the project has gotten a bit bogged down in the zealous application of rules by the City, such as this fence.

Photo by Joe Adelaars.

The good news: At a site meeting on September 1, the Buildings manager said that under the building code, a composting toilet is a "Class 1 sewer system": "A person is exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit under Section 8 of The Act for the construction of a class 1 sewer system." (1)(c)" A class 1 (there are 5 classes, 1 is the most primitive) is one "designed only to receive human body waste for disposal" Meaning collected without drains.

And the little cob structure enclosing the composting toilet is exempt because it's so small. Any building less than 100 square feet is exempt. That's why we didn't have to get a building permit for the community ovens.

City: Children keep out

The bad news: Parks and Recreation manager Sandy Straw says that the entire area of this cob project is legally a "building site" and therefore has to be surrounded by an eight-foot-high construction fence with no one allowed inside, ever, without regulation steel-toed boots and work gloves. So last year's cross-generational project of five hundred pairs of hands building the cob courtyard becomes impossible. Children are banned from helping in the way they did for last year's cob project.

The manager says she has to enforce this because of the Ontario Health and Safety Act. This is an Act to protect workers at workplaces, but City Policy says that volunteer workers are treated just the same. We've asked where it says this in the Act. So far no one has shown us the citation that corresponds to the City policy. But City staff feel certain that the Act includes volunteers and that if they allow us to build in the same beautiful way as last year, and we are caught, the Parks staff will be personally subject to heavy punitive fines.

last year's cob project

Since community participation is central to Georgie's reason for doing this playground composting toilet project, we're looking for any legal information that park friends have, on this crucial issue: City staff say the law makes no distinction between construction workers building a sky-scraper and women and children shaping little bunches of clay and straw together in an ages-old shelter-building technique. We hope there is another option.

posted Sept.8, 2006

The sequel

A six-foot-high construction fence went up on Tuesday Sept.5. The supervisor says that what makes this a construction site is the presence of shovels and wheelbarrows.

On September 8, the Parks supervisor brought over thick copies of various laws relating to construction. There is no written City policy that addresses the situation, and so, he said, in this case it is the Criminal Code that prevents children from helping to build as they did last year.

"A new institutional capacity must be developed at city hall that embraces more experimentation and risk-taking." Paul Bedford, Toronto Star: Jul 23, 2006. INDEED WHAT IF: A chance to end mediocrity

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