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posted on July 4, 2006


September 1 site meeting

When the big cob-courtyard-building project was going on last summer, people kept asking: so where’s the toilet going to be? For parents and caregivers of young kids, the lack of a toilet near the playground has been a drawback for years. And Georgie Donais has been interested in the ecology of sewage forever – i.e. composting toilets.

The brother of a cob volunteer, living in the southern U.S., heard about the cob project and offered to donate an industrial-strength composting toilet (the kind used in campgrounds and highway rest stops). There was no place for it in the courtyard structure, but there’s a good spot nearby, just west of the playground. In the fall, Georgie started talking to the Parks manager about the idea. She proposed building another smaller cob structure to surround the composting toilet. The manager was interested, so last February Georgie designed a beautiful, sculptural little cob building and applied for two small grants to cover its cost. Both grants – $10,000 from the Toronto Arts Council, and $2000 from the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation – were approved.

The Parks manager has changed in the meantime, and on June 1 Georgie and several park staff met with Sandy Straw, the new Parks manager for Toronto and East York, and Peter Leiss, the new West Parks maintenance supervisor. Georgie showed them detailed drawings, specs, etc. (including the number of bums the toilet can accept before it needs a rest). But on June 7, the manager had to leave for a family emergency, and she didn’t get back until June 26. The supervisor was also busy or away for that whole time, and suddenly the whole project was in trouble because the permissions were not ready.

Georgie wrote: “I am getting more and more concerned that building season is passing us by; volunteers are now in the park, and we are missing the chance to make use of their skills.”

On June 29, we went into crisis mode and talked to everybody including City Councillor Adam Giambrone, about the possibility that Georgie might have to give back her funding if the project couldn’t get going. Lucky for us, we were able to get the attention of all those busy management people, and the project is going ahead after all. The foundation will hopefully be done by the middle of July, and then: let the cobbing begin! To find out more, go to Georgie’s web pages:, or read the park bulletin boards. Georgie can be reached at

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