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posted October 16, 2006


On Friday October 13, every mailbox in the neighbourhood had a broadsheet from park neighbour Carol Seljak and the “Bloor Dufferin Residents’ Committee Ltd.,” containing many warnings about the park playground composting toilet project.

Four days earlier, Ms.Seljak and a small group of other park neighbours took action to halt work on the new Foodshare youth garden, a 10 by 15 meter plot at the southwest edge of the park near Dufferin Street. They said then, and afterwards in letters to the mayor and many other officials, that any additional park garden was a shrinking of the park’s green space.

Change can be hard. Even though Dufferin Grove Park was a horticultural showplace back in the thirties, later on, the park was pretty standard -- grass, big trees, sports and swing sets. Now there are still all those things, but new little trees have been planted, there are four community-garden areas, there are the ovens, the dancers, the theatre, the adventure playground, the picnics of so many diverse groups, the campfires at night, the soccer players stopping for prayers, the busy farmers’ market. At times it may seem that the park will gradually fill right up and overflow. That can lead to anxiety, as it seems to have in the case of these worried neighbours.

Hopefully, their worrying will turn out to be unnecessary. It may well be that the Foodshare youth garden becomes a wonderful teaching garden in an otherwise little-used corner of the park, a place where shoppers crossing from the mall can linger and enjoy the display. It may be that the composting toilet works as well as the national-parks toilets do, and the project will inspire other communities to contribute to small-scale waste diversion. And it may be that the on-site park staff here continue to get City support and recognition for their considerable talents, and so non-staff can ease off on the unpaid work.

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