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Wading Pool Renovation Fall 2008 and Spring 2009

A diary of the renovation of Dufferin Grove Park's "Abe Orpen Memorial Wading Pool"

Wading pool negotiation history:

In the summer of 2007 there was some worry about damage to the trees if the wading pool concrete was taken out. This led to lots of public discussion, and eventually a decision to leave the concrete and cover it with a liner. Here are the source documents and records of discussion:

Wednesday September 24, 2008

The wading pool as it looked today. Drained of water and closed for the season, it waits to be torn down and rebuilt.


The Orpen Plaque


This plaque is on the water fountain. A worker tried to remove it before the fountain is taken down, but he said he couldn't because the screws were too corroded.

This plaque reads


Abe Orpen owned the Dufferin Racetrack which sat where the Dufferin Mall is now.


The Cob Benches

Faustino begins breaking apart the cob benches next to the wading pool. He said he would save the clay.


Preparing the path


Thursday September 25, 2008


Friday September 26, 2008


Saturday and Sunday September 27 and 28, 2008 No work done on weekends

Monday September 29, 2008 Weather: sunny, warm. No work done.

Left: there's a chemical toilet because labour law requires a toilet to be near the construction site. Too bad there isn't the same kind of law for playground users -- so the parents wouldn't have to take their kids way up to the other end of the park.

Right: the start of the paved wheelchair access from Havelock Street.


Left: start of new waterpipe trench. Right: continuation of wheelchair access path beside sand pit. The sand wanders onto the pathway -- it will be tricky to keep it clear.


Tuesday Sept.30 Weather: showers until 11 a.m. then sun and cloud, no more rain until 8 pm. No work done.

Wednesday Oct.1 Weather: showers until 10 a.m., then sun and cloud, with occasional brief light showers. No work done.

Thursday Oct.2 Weather: sunny with cloudy periods and then showers off and on from 2 p.m. No work done.

Friday Oct.3 Weather: sunny with cloudy periods. No work done, for the whole week.

Monday Oct.6 Weather: sun and cloud, cool. No work done, but there was a half-hour site meeting between the project manager, the Parks Tech Services plumber, the Parks maintenance supervisor, and the contractor.

Tuesday Oct.7 Weather: sun and cloud, cool. No work done.

Wednesday Oct.8 Weather: started raining about 1 pm. No work done.

Thursday Oct.9 Weather: sunny, warm. No work done.

Friday Oct.10

Weather: sunny, mild. No one saw any workers, but there's a pipe sticking up that nobody noticed before -- so maybe a plumber was by the site without anyone seeing him. Other than (maybe) the pipe, no work has been done on this project for two weeks. Councillor Giambrone came by during the market yesterday, asking about the paving of the path. Once the general election is over this coming Tuesday Oct.14 (everybody's out knocking on doors) we'll have to send the councillor regular updates of what's not happening.

Tuesday Oct.14 Weather: After a warm long weekend, the weather is still unseasonably warm (19 Celsius). Sun and cloud, 2 minutes of light rain then clearing again. No work done.

Wednesday Oct.15

Weather: cloudy. Light rain beginning around 4 pm. No work done.

Thursday Oct.16 Weather: sun and cloud. Cool. Skids of interlock bricks were delivered.

Friday Oct.17 Weather: mainly sunny, cool. The chemical toilet has been knocked over and it's lying on its side. No sign of the contents flowing out on the ground(!) No work done.


Monday Oct.20 Weather: warm but overcast with short, light showers. The chemical toilet was on its side all weekend but today some workers came and the toilet has been set upright again. The workers power-washed the pool surface, for many hours.


Tuesday Oct.21 Weather: cold. The north wind is so strong that it blew down a huge tree across the path beside the rink house. There were even a few sort-of snowflurries.

The workers came again, this time with a small loader. They installed a rock bench/wall, much wider and further away from the pool than anyone expected. Then they smoothed out a large area between the wading pool and the rock bench/wall, evidently preparing it for the pavers. Plus they dug deeper near the wading pool plumbing "pit."


Wednesday Oct.22 Weather: cold (-1 C this morning), sun and cloud. The crew of four workers smoothed out the bed for the pavers some more, and they installed a chess table and two stools, near the new rock benches/wall. The supervisor came over and introduced himself. (Can't remember...maybe Fernando?) He pointed out that the old chess table was wobbly because it was broken (we knew that -- we got the table from Parks as a cast-off from some other park). So they had asked Parks to give them a better one, also used but not broken. It looks good.

The hole by the plumbing is now reinforced with boards, as the OHSA requires. The supervisor said that the reason they did no work for three weeks is that they were waiting for a plumbing part, which had to be ordered.

By the time the work crew left, they had installed much of the interlock. The supervisor said the interlock brick (acually not really interlock in the old sense -- these just look like concrete bricks) was shipped from Quebec.


Thursday October 23 Weather: sun and cloud, a little warmer than yesterday (high of 11). One worker spent the day cutting and shaping the pavers that have to fit in at angles and corners. The other three were pounding in steel stakes in the (now even deeper) plumbing pit.


Friday October 24 Weather: sun and cloud, high of 10. The concrete truck came and the crew poured a low wall. I asked the foreman whether that wall had the new plumbing in it, and he said, yet, there were jets for spraying water. I was puzzled about this. Jets?

It got darker and looked like rain toward the end of the afternoon but the crew finished making the wall, and they covered it up with plastic to cure for the weekend.


Saturday October 25 Weather: rain in the morning, then sun and cloud. No workers today but various people coming over to look -- the park has people in it despite the coolness, because of the Night of Dread parade coming up later in the day. The new plaza between the sandpit and the pool looks very nice, as does the curved path to the south of the pool. Neither are pictured in the blueprint from the councillor's office, but it doesn't matter.


Monday October 27 Bad news, maybe. The workers uncovered the wall they had made. It looks nice but it doesn't have the new above-ground water controls for the rec staff. That was the rec staff's main request -- that they wouldn't have to take their lives in their hands every time they turn the water on or off, by opening the hatch and bending down into the big hole, ten feet deep, the "pit." It was always an anxious thing for wading pool users too -- what if somebody left the heavy steel lid open a moment too long and a kid fell in there? They could die.

Today the foreman told me that as far as he knows, the water controls will stay in the big pit, not be moved above-ground as was requested. This needs follow-up.

The rest of the hole that was dug beside the concrete pit has been filled in now, and the foreman said they're basically finished with the concrete part of the project, except for installing the water fountain. But they can't do that yet -- the fountain that came was the wrong one, so it has to be re-ordered.

The wading pool shed has been moved up closer to the pool surface, but facing the wrong way.


Tuesday October 28 Weather: a very cold wind, sun and cloud. Close to freezing in the morning Today the markings were rolled out for the asphalt paths.

Chris Gallop from Councillor Giambrone's office says he's asked staff to brief him on the change on plumbing plans, if any.

One of the rec staff who supervised city wading pools last summer says that she is very dubious about the openings for jets of water in the side of the new concrete wall. "Both Trinity and Carleton's little water outlet fountains are long broken...if you look at Trinity you can see that the pipe within the concrete on the south side has cracked and water seeps out of the concrete. It looks gross and contributes to algea/moss (seriously!) which is slippery. Staff had to scrub the green growth off daily.

I was at the public mtg re the wading pool last year. Since then I guess my knowledge has changed and I would say that they should be keeping it all a great deal simpler. I know there are fountain plans for foot washing etc...I can only imagine that maintenance will be so poor that it will be endless frustration.

Small problems i.e. (sticky taps, drainage, etc) for both systems require maintenance and then work easily. But the underground controls require more health and safety training/equipment and are a pain.

Big problems are easier to fix in the below ground controls because you don't have to pick up the sidewalk/concrete immediatly.

Trinity has constantly running (strong drip) water. It still often required two people to open and close the controls. Plumbers claimed that they can't fix the drip without pulling up the concrete. Carleton: Water got stuck in the on position and the controls fell into the pit (the pit is inaccessible because it is covered in concrete). Then the plumbers' keys fell in. It took 2 or 3 days to reopen.

To me the best option would be a combo - easy access for Rec staff through above ground controls with metal doors that can be easily opened for problems if a plumber is required.

Wednesday October 29 2008 Weather: there was a bit of snow on the ground in the morning, frost overnight. High of 6 celsius.

The asphalt was put down to connect north and south Gladstone and also to make the wheelchair-accessible paths to the wading pool from Havelock and from south Gladstone. It looks rough in places, with little gaps where water can get in and freeze/thaw. The foreman said they couldn't make it as smooth as the asphalt at the north end of the path because that was done in the summer.

Now there is only one dirt track left among the many park throughfares -- the path leading from Havelock to the Gladstone path.


Thursday October 30 2008 Weather: sunny, cool, high of 10 celsius.

The 1922 minutes of city council suggested there should be a paved footpath through Dufferin Grove Park, and now, not even 100 years later, here it is at last. Lots of feet going along it too, since it was the farmers' market today.

No work done today, and no update from the councillor's office, about the mixup with the plumbing.

Friday October 31 Weather: sunny and warm, high of 18 celsius. No work done.

It looks like the plumbing will be improved so that it's easier to work and less dangerous. From the Councillor's office, a message from Peter Didiano, project manager:

[T]he water shut off will still be housed in the chamber. The only difference will be that our Recreation staff will be able to stand upright outside the chamber to turn the new extended key that will fit into the new shut off valve. Staff will no longer need to crouch over the valve to turn it on or off.

As well, there will be a suspended basket in the chamber in which the hose will be stored on, so again staff will not have to step down into the chamber.

This was always the intent of the design from the beginning and our tech. staff including the parks supervisor have agreed to this.

The chamber will be receiving new acess doors with telescopic tubes to provide smooth easy operation during opening and closing it. Again this will assist Rec. staff in accessing the valve and hoses.

Monday November 3 Weather: cool and rainy in the morning, then clear by 11.30 and warm. No work done, but construction fence still up.

Tuesday November 3

Weather: warm and sunny. No sign of any work done, but big truck-tire marks all the way along the new path. The city plumber, Tom Feeney, described the new plumbing system -- sounds better than the systems causing problems at the other newer wading pools.

One problem: the paved walkway going to the wading pool from Havelock Street is elevated about 4 inches, with no border -- people can twist their ankles.


Wednesday Nov.4 through Sunday Nov.8

Weather: warm and mainly sunny until showers began on Saturday. No work done all week.


Monday Nov.10 through Wednesday Nov.12

Weather: Monday and Tuesday were cold, only a few degrees above freezing. Wednesday was a bit warmer (8 celsius) but overcast. Two plumbers were working in the pit. They took out the big old valves (so heavy, it almost takes two people to move the bigger of the two) and replaced them with new ones. On Tuesday they said they had worked a half day on Monday, and a half day on Tuesday, but they had run into a problem. The pipes are all new in both chambers of the pit. On Wednesday nobody went down to see what they were doing, but vans were there. They left the old valves holding down the unlocked lids of the pit.


Thursday Nov.13 2008

Weather: rainshowers in the morning, then cloudy with occasional sunny breaks. Mild, high of 11 celsius. No work done.

Friday Nov.14 2008

eather: Cloudy with sunny periods, mild (11 celsius). No work done. The heavy valves are still lying on the hatches for the pit, still no locks on them. It's a pretty safe time of year to leave deep holes, new plumbing, etc., unsecured -- not many people coming through the park.


Monday Nov.17 to Friday Nov.21 2008

Weather: mainly cold (lows between -5 and -10 celsius), snow on Wednesday, still on the ground by Sunday Nov.23. No work done.


Wednesday Dec.4 2008:

Weather: the snow is all gone, and the temperature has been hovering around 0 celsius. The last bits of this part of the project were carried out yesterday and today. From the newsletter:

The first stage of the renovation project was completed on December 4. The work took place on 2 days in September, 8 days in October, 3 days in November and 2 days in December. The workers were nice people, who must be quite busy elsewhere as well. The new paving around the pool seems to be done, with a long semi-circular stone bench and a chess table. The plumbing upgrades seem to be mostly done, with much-improved lighter aluminum covers for the water control pit. Now no one can lose their fingers (or worse) to a heavy pit cover falling on them. There’s a new drinking fountain. And the new asphalt paths have made going through the park a lot easier. Sadly, there are deep mud ruts along one side of the path already, where the park vehicles drive to pick up trash.

path edges filled in

new aluminum pit covers

new drinking fountain

Altogether, the project took just over thirteen weeks from the scheduled start date (i.e. Sept. 2, right after the wading pool closed for the season) to get to the end of the first stage. None of the down times were due to bad weather. If the construction start date had been last May 1, as was originally planned, the wading pool would have stayed closed until August. Bravo to City Councillor Adam Giambrone for agreeing to change the construction schedule!


Thursday June 4 2009

June 4, measuring day

Somebody walked all around the pool and measured the paved part.


Tuesday June 9 2009

June 9, power-washing in the background

the mechanical chamber is about one-third full of water

Work started, exactly when project manager Peter Didiano said it would. One man is power-washing the pool surface. The two hatches on the pool chambers are up, and it looks like they're about one-third filled with dirty water.

Wednesday June 10 2009

filling the seams

a platform has been added

Three guys were working hard, filling the seams in the concrete with new cement and then scraping off the excess with shovels. The new centre drain is in. The emptying chamber still has water in it, but less. The filling chamber has a sturdy platform so that the rec workers don't have to worry about falling into the concrete pit when they're filling the pool. The workers said that tomorrow they plan to put on the sealant, and the next day they plan to apply the new surface, and the sod, and then they're out.

It would be good for the rec workers to test the water and the drains, since they're the ones who work with the pool. But it's very unlikely that anyone will consult them.

Thursday June 11 2009

bags of pool surfacing material

cold-applied joint sealant in the expansion joints

the first panel of surfacing

progress by the end of the day

The wading pool was sealed with a cementitious plastic/cement combo manufactured by the W.R.Meadows Company. This is an Illinois company run by an extended family, which has a message from the chairman on its home page. A company representative came out on the first day to help the crew make sure they were applying it right.


Friday June 12 2009

first layer done

left-over material wrapped in plastic

Monday June 15 2009

equipment for mixing the surfacing material

almost done

Tuesday June 16 2009

final sealing of the circumference

The last visit by a worker -- trying to get the sealant done before some days of rain in the forecast.


Saturday July 25 2009

pool during strike

During the strike, the pool sometimes got so clogged with mud (July was cold and rainy) that it didn't drain and so there was a pool of muddy water. Whenever the managers found out, they came and cleared away the mud so the water could drain.


Wednesday August 5 2009

Filling pool

water spouts

The strike was officially settled on Friday July 31. On Tuesday August 4, the new construction was signed off by the City. On Wednesday, two good things happened -- the weather warmed up and the wading pool was opened for the first time this year.

The pool fills in an ingenious way, with the water coming out almost at ground level -- it looks a bit like a tide coming in, it doesn't take long, and the kids can run through as it fills. The experience is even more fun if the water spouts are turned on.

The renovation is popular. A win-win: the solid concrete base did not end up being pulled up and dumped into land-fill; the trees were not hurt; the timing would have worked out well if there had been no strike; and now the wading pool is lots of fun again. And it looks like the sea when it's full.

The cost for the renovation was:

Staff Management Fee: $15,000.00

Landscape Architect: $13,250.00

Investigation: (Survey/slab x-ray) $2,300.00

Construction: $196,851.00

Total: $227,401.00

Wading pool finished

Wading Pool Follow-up

Problems that remain or are new since the renovation: August 2009 to the present

Read more

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