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posted July 15, 2006

Editorial: the "harmonization" policy

It seems to me that having "harmonization" as the cornerstone of park policy - meaning, that every part of the city gets the same services/ facilities - has worked out badly and will continue that way. It inevitably has the (unwanted) effect of dragging all our facilities down to the same low level. There should be fairness, there MUST be improvement, but if the city could please adopt "maximum use of existing resources" as the cornerstone instead, I think we could attain our fairness goal so much better. The folks in charge CANNOT continue to keep rinks and pools sitting idle well after the season for them has begun.

The broad hammer that gets used to apply the "one size fits all" approach (which "harmonization" seems to lead to) is such a clumsy instrument. In the matter of opening the wading pools to suit the weather, for instance, the Dufferin Park pool is in an unusual situation -- at mid-day the pool and our whole playground are almost completely in shade. For that reason, on hot days, the whole area is full of people. Park wading pools that haven't got tree cover are not much used on really hot days. So during an early heat wave the wading pools could be opened selectively, focusing on pools with shade. In the case of unshaded pools, resources could be used instead to plant (and care for) trees around their perimeter. That would be so much more sensible than opening all the pools simultaneously by applying the "harmonization" rule.

God help us, that we won't have to carry on too many more of these shake-the-bushes campaigns to get the city staff to let the citizens use the simple, cheap amenities of public space - outdoor rinks, wading pools, picnic areas. It is my impression that if city staff don't find a way to plan ahead better and to alter their policies so that they can fit logic, citizens will progressively lose confidence in their ability to carry out their stewardship responsibilities.

Jutta Mason

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