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posted July 29, 2004

Rules of Conduct in the Park

Note: since city management centralized control of this park, this description is no longer accurate -- but it worked well until 2012)

Some new little signs have gone up in the playground, saying "adults must be accompanied by a child under twelve." There's a park by-law that prevents teenagers, for example, from taking over a playground as the St.Mary's students sometimes do. (Some teenagers think they're still kids but they are too big and rowdy to play alongside little kids.) So - if you're there with kids, you don't have to grin and bear it if there are some 15-year olds taking up all the swings (or drinking in the rain shelter). Point out the signs to them, and if they have trouble grasping the meaning, speak to the park staff.

Dogs off leash: This is not legal but it's common practice at our park. Most of the dog owners are fine and sensible people, and their irregular, often late-night presence makes the park safer. However, sometimes dogs can be scary and owners can be oblivious. If you find a dog intimidating, and the owner is not interested in your friendly request for them to control their dog, talk to the staff. The staff will be glad to talk to the owner or the owner's friends, and straighten it out. This includes the owners of pit bulls. Some of them are friendlier than they look but everyone can use a hint if they unwittingly make people in the park uncomfortable. If you can't find the staff, leave a message about a dog concern on the park on the park phone: 416 392-0913. Please leave your name and number: anonymous messages are annoying and usually don't get action.

Of course there are no dogs allowed in playground, ever, nor EVER in the wading pool (public health rules require the staff to drain the pool if a dog gets in there).

Wading pool and sand pit: The wading pool is chlorinated regularly and children must wear bathing suits or waterproof diapers. The same goes for the sand pit - no nudity allowed. This shocks Europeans who are used to the easy tolerance of kids' nudity on European beaches, but at our park there are so many different cultural perceptions that every little bum has to be covered.

Note also that the sand pit has real shovels in it because it was intended as a play area for older children: little kids can play there too, but if their caregivers are anxious about their safety, please remove the little ones to the small sand box. At the same time, any children who use shovels carelessly should be asked (by any nearby adult) to be more careful, and if there is still a concern, they should have their shovel removed. Staff will help, but if no staff are there, any adult nearby should get involved. (Happily, the sand pit has just passed its tenth year, with a very impressive safety record, because most kids are unbelievably smart, and they want to play, not to hurt each other. Also lots of adults know how to prevent trouble, and then there are about fourteen invisible guardian angels on the lookout as well - how else to explain that the sandpit works so well?)

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