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The June 5 2019 public meeting about the rink replacement

new rink changeroom, from the latest design plans

The meeting is at St.Helen's Catholic School Gymnasium (1196 College St.). There will be an open house from 6:30 to 7 p.m., and a structured meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. The design team say they will be presenting what they feel is the "preferred option" (p.24 in the DTAH design plans) -- redoing the rink pads north-south instead of east-west as they are now, and redoing the basketball court as well. That will put a huge amount of concrete into the landfill. (That's a problem).

Andrea Holtslander has sent an analysis of which mature trees will be lost: read more

Belinda Cole, who has done legal research for CELOS in the past, sent Lura four suggestions for a better public meeting protocol, asking if the design team can agree on any/all of them. Her suggestions are here.


May 26, 2019: Update: Freedom of Information (FOI) response about the Dufferin Rink project

Parks and Rec Capital Projects, through Lura, wrote to CELOS on April 10, 2019, that “the ice surface and equipment require imminent replacement” to avoid “risk of equipment failure.”

That same day, I asked through FOI for the engineering report showing that the concrete rink slabs (which hold the cooling pipes) are at risk of failing and need to be demolished now.

The response came on May 29. Neither the DTAH engineering report of 2018 nor the 2014 state of good repair report give evidence of any such risk. (The electronic FOI response is here.) The only reason given by the DTAH engineering consultant, for demolishing the rink slabs, is in case of “any proposed changes in size or shape” of the rinks. read more.


June 2019: new CELOS booklet with the NW Corner posts

Twelve Dufferin Grove Northwest Corner Revitalization Project posts have been gathered into one handy booklet here.


April 26, 2018: At the Dufferin Grove meetings, public discussion is replaced by public shopping

The April 17 public meeting about the Dufferin Grove rink renovation stayed on what the general manager of Parks and Rec Capital Projects refers to as “the general script.” First, five members of the community resource group (CRG) came up to the front and started the meeting by attesting to the responsiveness of DTAH, the design team. “So many community design suggestions are being added into the project,” several said. Then Megan Torza, the head of the DTAH team, began her presentation. There are now three options, she said, modified according to community suggestions. All three assume that the demolition of the current concrete rink pads is a requirement.

The DTAH presentation didn’t quote from any engineering report(s) pointing to specific problems with the rink pads, nor did DTAH comment on the environmental issues connected with concrete replacement. There was no time to talk about those issues afterwards either.

None of the public meetings, or the community resource group meetings held so far, can be called public discussions. If there had been real discussion, the basic question “do you want this project?” would have been on the table. But it never was. Discussion time was always short because there were so many options to present. The city’s project team is sticking to the script, and the script is – basically – a call for public shopping. What kind of kitchen do you want for the rink building? Should there be an outdoor projection surface for movies? How about raised garden beds for seniors? Better signage? A rentable party room? A non-gendered washroom?

The money for all this shopping comes from taxes and development fees, and with so much new construction in the area, it seems like there’s plenty to spend. But it must be spent now – otherwise (it’s said) the money will disappear.

About concrete: In an interview in today’s Globe, two people – a well-known architect and a wealthy developer -- were talking about the problems of concrete. They spoke of the need to reduce the use of “highly unsustainable concrete [which is] responsible for an estimated 8 per cent of all carbon emission worldwide.” But the architect sounded pessimistic: “Generally speaking developers are conservative people. They are playing with tens of millions of dollars. They have a bank backstopping them. They are not going to go out on a limb. They are going to do what they know, and they are going to do it again and again, because they made money last time.”

The developer said, “I’ve realized we [developers] are bad people. The developers are a big part of the problem….We have got to change.” He went on to say that almost 40 per cent of annual carbon emissions comes from construction and what he called “operations.” This figure seems hard to believe -- but perhaps it at least gives some idea of the scale of the problem.

Maybe the city’s capital projects staff, and the designers, and the politicians, and quite a few people who use the park, also participate in the problem. They want the city to keep doing what they know – in this case, to demolish the rink pads and bring in the cement trucks to pour new rink pads. As for the waste and the carbon emissions: there’s a popular song that begins, “I want to do right, but not right now…” And right now, there are many specific shopping choices to make, to use up the $4 million allocated to this project. The point is not whether, but what.

Making choices from a list of what to buy is one thing most of us know how to do – we get daily training and encouragement in it. Those park friends who keep wanting to do small fixes instead, preserving what’s already there, are seen -- by some -- as troublemakers, negative people with a chip on their shoulder who want to stand in the way of progress. Regarded as perhaps even more annoying are the people who want to first address the staffing problems of the park. "Wasting time" by talking about how city hall's hierarchical style is undermining the park’s history of friendly and collaborative local staffing -- and is driving the park’s operating cost through the roof -- is seen by some park friends as beside the point. Sorry. Stay on task. The park’s many operating problems are not up for discussion.

And yet, staying with the script alongside the city’s Dufferin Grove project team may not have the sunny outcome that its supporters are anticipating. The story will continue to unfold over the next 2 -3 years. I’ll be watching from the sidelines, and documenting it as well as I can.

Coming up next: The spreadsheets for Dufferin Grove Park’s 2018 operating costs are waiting for me at the Freedom of Information (FOI) office. My FOI request about what’s actually wrong with the rink slabs is due on May 19. What’s in those documents will be the subject of my next blog. Don’t touch that dial!

Jutta Mason


April 11, 2019: Boilerplate and red herrings


Boilerplate (wikipedia): "...any written text (copy) that can be reused in new contexts or applications without significant changes to the original....[in the case of a contract] the terms and conditions of the contract are set by one of the parties, and the other party has little or no ability to negotiate..."

Red herring (wikipedia): "In fiction and non-fiction a red herring may be intentionally used by the writer to plant a false clue that leads readers or audiences towards a false conclusion."

Instead of answering people's request for specifics about what elements of the rink do not meet the building code or city regulations, city staff gave boilerplate answers.

City staff wrote

It is the City's responsibility to ensure its publicly accessed facilities are compliant to all current and applicable health and safety regulations, and codes including the Ontario Building Code, ASHRAE Energy Codes, Accessibility Guidelines, etc.

But that turns out to be a red herring, since compliance with the current code is only required when there’s a renovation or replacement project. Nobody asked for that project, it was helicoptered in by Parks and Rec Capital Projects. (See one possible reason why.)

City staff wrote

1. -- Numerous building systems (mechanical and electrical) within the Clubhouse have reached the end of their life cycle

(but they give no specifics)

2. -- the "systems" will be replaced in order to avoid system failure and disruption in use of the facility

(but they say the rink and clubhouse will be closed from February 2020 to December 2021)

3. the 2014 SOGR report "and an additional report in December 2018," confirm that the refrigeration equipment that operates Dufferin Grove Park's artificial ice rink is at the end of its 25-year life cycle"

(but the SOGR report is full of errors [more details here] because the engineers were told that nothing had been replaced since 1993 -- and the December 2018 report is not public)

4. -- "we allocate budget for the replacement of both equipment and rink concrete slab at the same time to maximize efficiency and minimize disruption to the public."

(but see #2)

5. -- "The four corners of the current ice rink are too tight for the Zamboni to effectively resurface these corners, leaving areas of ice rough and uneven."

(but there's lots of disagreement about the rough ice from skaters in the community letters here.)

6. -- "the entire ice rink’s concrete slab is almost at the end of its life cycle, but without a thorough test cut through the pipes and concrete slab, the condition remains unknown. A core cut test would irreparably damage the pipes"

(but nobody needs to cut into the slab, that's another red herring. It's easy to see when a problem develops with a pipe because there's a melt line on the ice. When it happened at Dufferin Rink about 15 years ago, several small areas of concrete were removed and the pipe was repaired. It took 2 weeks out of the rink season.)

7. -- replacing the rinks every 20 - 25 years "ensures the new system will work properly with all new pipes and header valves in the slab"

(but there is often trouble with new rinks -- brand new rinks at McCowan and Dieppe had to be shut again for repairs right away, new-ish rinks like Wallace and Giovanni Caboto had troubles, College Park skating trail couldn't open at all this year, despite brand new pipes and a CO2 plant -- whereas Dufferin Grove has a very good reputation -- don't fix what ain't broke!)

8. -- rebuilding the rink from scratch will "keep maintenance and operation costs down with replacement of dasher boards, gates, fences and lights"

(but that's nonsense -- dasher boards, gates, fences and light have been replaced a number if times, just as part of normal maintenance -- it takes a few days in the off-season, no barrier to use)


As a "community resource group" member, I asked the staff for specific information about what's wrong with the rink. They replied with boilerplate text. So I filed a freedom of information request. We'll see if that brings some specifics.

The city is used to the idea that you don't tell things to the public. In the Request for Proposals (RFP) for this contract there's this clause: Confidentiality: The Vendor shall treat as confidential all information of any kind which comes to the attention of the Vendor in the course of carrying out the Services and shall not disseminate such information for any reason without the express written permission of the City or otherwise in accordance with MFIPPA or other applicable privacy law.

Jutta Mason


earlier blogs

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