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April 2016

two doors need replacing on the serving counter

cherry blossoms at cob

Last year the cob courtyard got a thorough inspection for its tenth anniversary. It got a pretty good bill of health. The counter had bio-degraded, though, and so city carpenters replaced it with a new one they had made. Recreation staff did some mud and shingle repairs. After this winter, some more small repairs are due: some shingles were torn off in the middle section, allowing water to go into the wall, and the serving counter needs repair. The maintenance page for this year is here. The cob structure survived the winter pretty well; only a few inexpensive fixes are needed.



From the Ssptember 2015 Newsletter:

A photo exhibit for the 10-year anniversary of the cob courtyard café, built in 2005

10-year anniversary photo display

The wading pool shed is now covered with laminated colour pictures showing the step-by-step building of the cob courtyard, and the many people involved. So many children helped build!

From the August 2005 newsletter: The cob courtyard by the wading pool is growing spectacularly. They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and that seems to be borne out at the park, with the cob building project. Late last summer, Toronto Public Health inspectors told us to get proper sinks for food preparation installed by the wading pool for this summer or stop having snacks at the playground. Park friend Georgie Donais said – “if we have to have sinks, we can back them with a community-built cob courtyard and make something beautiful.”  With the help of a $2500 grant from the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, she set about working with many park friends to build a little courtyard around the sinks, and continuing on from there, to create an outdoor gathering-place. ….The Parks and Recreation Division’s contribution to this project has been solid and growing. The plumbing for the sinks was installed by the City’s plumbers, and the electricity for the water heater required by Public Health, as well as for the snack bar cooking facilities, was put in by the City’s electricians. Parks and Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro and manager James Dann said they would help Georgie make it happen, and they’ve been as good as their word at every step.

From the May / June 2015 Newsletter:

What works: the cob courtyard café

The cob courtyard/café has reached its tenth year. It was community-built, with the help of more than 500 pairs of hands of all ages, over the course of the long spring/summer of 2005 – under the leadership of park friend Georgie Donais. Park program staff gave much practical support, including providing snacks for volunteer builders. City of Toronto Parks Tech Services staff did all the wiring and the plumbing. The wooden/tile counter and cabinets were built by Silvie Varone and Simon Evans.

Over the years, the counter gradually began to bio-degrade bit by bit in the weather, but the cob wall is in very good shape. There has been maintenance all along, especially for the shingles protecting the top of the wall. This is the year for a bigger reno, thanks to the City of Toronto park’s tech services staff: a new counter, new sinks, new cabinetry and plumbing.

posted July 01, 2013

Cob oval bench is gone

When the Dufferin Grove playground bio-toilet project ran into neighbourhood opposition in 2006 and 2007, and was cancelled, friends of the project covered the dug-out foundation hole with a reinforced wooden floor. They worked with park staff to “cob” the oval exterior foundation walls and turn them into a continuous, broad, smooth bench. The oval bench became a popular gathering place, both comfortable and ample for picnics and sociable groupings of all ages. It was nicknamed the “gossip rock,” because so much news was passed along there.

Almost every structure in a well-used public space needs regular maintenance , and the oval bench was no exception. Every spring, experienced park staff re-cobbed the bench wherever gaps had developed, and gave it a new smooth covering of plaster. Some years they painted pictures or patterns on the bench too. But when the city took over all the cash handling from the food programs, there was no longer any access to money for materials, and anyway a different park maintenance crew was put in charge of looking after the bench. That crew was busy with lots of other projects, and so the bench gradually crumbled without care. This year the bench had become an eyesore, so Councillor Bailao’s office agreed to have it removed and the space in the middle filled in. The maintenance staff had over-ordered armour stone for other projects, and so they set up some of the leftovers where the bench had been. It’s hard to know how many people will want to sit on the big blocks, since they’re rough and uncomfortable and at an awkward height. A laminated photo of the original bench is up on the bulletin board nearby, as a little reminder of a sociable gathering place that worked for a good many years.

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