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News 2007

News 2007

From the September 2007 Newsletter:

Annual bench-and-picnic table painting day

Sunday Sept. 9, 1 pm to 4 pm

Sunday Sept. 9, 1 pm to 4 pm: Annual bench-and-picnic table painting day.

Organized by Michelle Webb, with paint supplied by the Parks department. For many years now there have been no provisions for repairing or maintaining picnic tables, and what’s a park without tables? A coat of paint before winter, for some of the most paint-deficient picnic tables, will help preserve them. Michelle says, wear old clothes and come to the park oven at Sunday pizza time. The tables most needing paint will be set up there. Last time Michelle organized this painting bee, friends or even whole families came and painted a table together. A very friendly occasion, with free pizza for painters.


A citywide “facilities” audit done by Affiliated Engineers, Inc., a large international company of engineers, in 2005 was the basis for the plan to redo the wading pool. Since amalgamation, the city has hired a number of consultants to do such audits. It’s not easy to come in and check out every facility in a large city. In Toronto, as one of the audit companies reported in 2001: “Service contract arrangement, drawings, service records and history were requested. Few facilities could actually produce such information.” And indeed, the audit engineers based the Dufferin Grove wading pool assessment mainly on the original construction date (1955). This meant that the wading pool automatically got an assessment of “0 years life expectancy.” Under some engineering standards, city buildings and facilities such as rinks and wading pools are assumed to have a useful life of 40-50 years. (This kind of assumption contributed to the widespread destruction of many older public buildings in Toronto in the1950s and 1960s, stopping just short of demolishing Old City Hall.)

But the idea that new is better has not always worked out. For example, in the early1990s, Alex Duff Pool at Christie Pits was rebuilt because of such an “expiry date.” The new swimming pool developed cracks and leaks after less than a year. After a number of expensive attempts to fix it, the water still pours out into oil drums in the basement under the pool. Another example is Dufferin Rink – five years after it was rebuilt, the floor began to sink under the rink’s cooling compressors, dragging down the adjoining rooms as well, and emergency structural repairs had to be made. There are many such stories. In the case of the park wading pool, the concrete pool surface was very solidly built by the (often Italian) construction crews who also built roads and sidewalks at that time. The wading pool surface has no cracks (the long straight lines are intentional expansion joints). On the other hand, the rink surface and the concrete areas surrounding the rink house are already full of cracks even though built in 1993.

So it seems good to keep what is solid, and to fix what’s not. Although the wading pool audit said that plumbing has not been touched since 1955, on closer inspection one can see a long cut where the pipes run. The plumbing must already have been repaired sometime in the interim. That means that a relatively easy marking is already there, in exactly the right place, and it should be able to be re-opened. If that gets done, wading-pool/playground users can get their drinking fountain back as well, get the plumbing rebuilt, and perhaps retain a few other features of the original plan. The big old trees can give their shade as long as they may live (5 years? 20 years?), while the newly planted succession trees gain height. And hopefully the city will not have to spend as much money as was forecast. Economy of expenditure would be good now.


Parks and Recreation management have decided to cut the month of December out of the outdoor rink season. This will save either $800,000, or $570,000, or $160,000, depending on which report you read. The shaky numbers reflect an equally shaky management attitude to basic recreation services. Rink issues were supposed to be on the City Parks Committee agenda in July, then postponed to September 14. It now appears that the outdoor rinks may not make it onto the September agenda either. It may be necessary for skaters and shinny hockey players to get the attention of council and Parks management with an evening visit to City Hall before another month has passed. For updates, go to


1. Winter rink access. Finally, no more sliding and falling, entering the rink from the street. Parks supervisor Peter Leiss took up rink staff Dan Watson’s good idea of cutting a small gate in the rink fence close to the street. In July, technical service staff cut the gate and began to build a slanted ramp from the gate down to the sidewalk. Another slip hazard! After some protest, countered with requests by Mr.Leiss not to interfere, and finally an intervention from Councillor Giambrone’s office, the crew built a nice level access with one step, instead. Problem solved, whenever the rink opens.

2. Two new curb cuts: Almost a year ago, cyclist Robert Stewart started lobbying the councillor’s office about getting a small curb cut, leading down from the sidewalk by the rink house, to stop bikes from using the sidewalk and endangering pedestrians. It seemed good to do the missing zamboni curb cut at the same time, giving bike and vehicle access to the new paved path at the east side of the rink. Parks supervisor Peter Leiss felt it was a Transportation department responsibility, but it took until the end of August to get a site meeting with staff from there. (Four of them had to come.) They said that it was actually the Parks supervisor’s responsibility. So back to Mr.Leiss. Once he sends in the request for these simple changes, they’ll get on the radar.

Newsletter and Website Credits

Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason
Illustrations: Jane LowBeer
Web site: Henrik Bechmann

Park phone: 416 392-0913
web address:

From the May 2007 Newsletter:


Benches – the park benches are badly in need of paint, and the only way they’ll get painted is if park users help out – watch for posters and newsletter announcements.

Cob repair

Cob courtyard – trial and error are the best teachers. The cob plaster held up better through the second winter and there was no more vandalism. But it seems that the sections that have shingles on top do much better than the middle section that hasn’t got them. So artist Heidrun Gabel-Koepff is going to be adding shingles to that middle section and replastering a bit. Park friend Gene Threndyle has put in a little cedar garden fence where the kids were climbing up too much (instead of payment, the park bakers are trading the fence for dough for Gene’s bake oven at Artscape). And Silvie Varone is building a more solid serving table for the summer cob snack bar, in her carpentry shop.

For general information about the cob courtyard, see our Cob Courtyard pages.


From Havelock Street resident Robert Stewart:

"...a big part of why we bought in the neighborhood is its accessibility in terms of public transportation and proximity to the downtown by bicycle (we sold our car 3 years ago, and commute and take our son to school, as well as doing all our errands, by bike and by TTC). We do our shopping for groceries at Dufferin Mall (often towing a small bike trailer for our son), and get there by biking west from Havelock along Dufferin Park Avenue (north side of Dufferin Grove Park), then down the little path beside the clubhouse and down the little dead-end street to Dufferin.... The problem is that there are a lot of pedestrians using the stretch of sidewalk along the dead-end street, as well as bikes trying to go along the same route."

Robert Stewart is giving voice to a concern shared by lots of people. Anyone using that sidewalk knows how tight that bottleneck is, where the broader asphalt path suddenly turns into a narrow shared sidewalk/highway-for-bikes. Councillor Adam Giambrone's office has agreed to contact Transportation to arrange a sidewalk cut that will make it easier for the bikes to get off the sidewalk much sooner. Pedestrians, cyclists, whoever has felt that the narrow sidewalk needs an early exit to let the bikes back out on the road -- call the Councillor's office: 416 392-7012.

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