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< Road Access To Paved Path By Rink | Problems 2007 | Bike Access To Sidewalk By Rinkhouse >

Description: Parks Supervisor withholds keys to fieldhouse washroom from Recreation staff, and orders washrooms locked during busy periods at the park.
Status: Open
Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, April 24 2007

David Anderson says he will take the puppets out of the Dufferin Grove field house w/c as soon as someone opens the washrooms for him. Park staff don't have a key for that big padlock -- Kristen Fahrig has the key, but needs it for Macgregor.

Mayssan requests that your staff remove the big padlock now for the season, and replace it with one of the standard locks and that way the Rec staff don't have to run around for the key. I am meeting David A. at 12.15 to see if any of the other park keys fit into the w/c lock. I'll report back.

Please apologize to Gus for me if this delay messed up Marjorie's cleaning schedule. There's already so much activity at the park, and so much more to plan for, that staff are running to keep up.

Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Jutta Mason, April 24 2007

Staff will open the lock tomorrow. This lock will remain as the regular park locks do not provide the required security. The washrooms are not a storage area for any materials. The washrooms need to remain accessible to make repairs or to deal with emergencies. Please ensure that the washrooms are kept clear in the future.

Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, cc to Parks manager Sandy Straw, April 24 2007

1. You may recall that the washrooms remained unlocked for the entire summer last year (24 hours a day) and there was no more problem than in any other park washrooms, as long as Marjorie was doing the cleaning. Toilets don't need to be locked up like a bank. David Anderson would have removed the puppets before, if he had been able to gain access. Please do not use a lock that no on-site Recreation staff can open.

2. No one likes to store puppets in a toilet anteroom area, even over the winter when it's not in use otherwise. But if there's no other space, that's what will happen. Please let David Anderson know if you have an alternative storage site for these community parade puppets -- I'm sure he would be delighted.

3. We will continue to operate according to Councillor McConnell's comments at the last Parks Committee meeting. She said, "it's fine for citizens to act as if the parks belong to them -- because they do." We have collaborated with Parks staff for many years to help make the park work well for the citizens, but your e-mail below does not promote collaboration. I am hoping that will change.

Auto-reply from Parks manager Sandy Straw to Jutta Mason, April 24 2007

Thank you for your email. I will be out of the country and will be returning to the office on Monday, May 7, 2007.

For assistance during my absence please contact:

For Parks Branch related items: David Chapman

From Jutta Mason to Parks Supervisor Peter Leiss, May 4 2007

This Friday evening shortly after 10 pm I came to the park to find over 100 people there and the washrooms locked. As you have been aware for some days, there were three community campfire permits scheduled for tonight. Plus all the youth playing basketball.

Last year, having this many people enjoying an evening in the park would not have been a problem, since the washrooms were kept open.

I would like to ask you either to return to last year's system or to schedule your extra staff to keep the washrooms open until most people have left the park (by law they don't have to leave until midnight, although the campfires are extinguished by 11 p.m.).

The many campfire permit participants who were women were particularly unhappy to find the washrooms locked.

You and your staff would not hear their complaints directly, since this is a community/recreation partnership. So I am passing the message along as a public service.

Auto-reply from Parks Supervisor Peter Leiss, May 4 2007

I will be away on vacation May 4 returning May 7. I will reply to your email when I return. If your request is an emergency please contact Dave Chapman.

From Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Jutta Mason, May 8 2007

We have had reports from public and staff of inappropriate activities occurring in the washrooms at Dufferin Grove park last year as a result of them being left open all night. There are washroom facilities available in the rink building which could be used. That is a Recreation controlled building. As recreation staff were scheduled to be in attendance for the campfire there is no reason that the washrooms in the rink building could not have been used.

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, May 8 2007

The recreation staff as well as park users monitored the field house washroom closely last year and every year. It was used appropriately for the reasons intended, most of the time. As in any park, there will be exceptions, but I believe they were not serious enough to justify your making the washrooms unavailable when the park is full of people on warm evenings. If I am mistaken, perhaps you would like to share the specifics of inappropriate use (dates and circumstances) with the recreation staff.

You recommend the use of the rink house washrooms, but Rec staff could not escort every park user to the rink house when there were so many. The rink house can't be left unlocked because it has the washer and drier and other equipment in the front hall, susceptible to theft. There is nothing to steal in the field house washrooms.

I will continue to take feedback from other park users and pass it along, so that you may see that your restrictions cause hardship, especially to female park users in the evenings.

From Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, cc to Jutta Mason, May 9 2007

Would you please tell the staff here at Dufferin when they can expect the field house washrooms to be open at the park? From what time to what time. There were lots of youth at the park last night and the washrooms were looked at 9:30pm. I just need to know so that we can put it in the community newsletter and post it on the washrooms doors. That was suggested so that people can plan their last washroom visit. I don't know if that makes any sense but I hoping it will translate into less public exhibitions.

From Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, May 9 2007

The washrooms will be opened after 7:00 am and closed before 10:00pm. What times are the washrooms opened and closed in the rinkhouse. This should be posted as well so people can plan to use any of the facilities available in the Park.

From Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, cc to Jutta Mason, May 9 2007

Today I checked the washrooms on my way home, before 8:45pm and the washrooms were closed. Again, youth were at the basketball court. Could we just say a simple "at 10pm washrooms close." Still, thats problematic as the campfires are allowed to stay till 11pm.

I was advised that last week there were over 100 people in the park at the various campfires and playing basket ball and hanging around. Is there any way to extend the hours?

The rink house washrooms are basically out of commission or unreliable in the off season since recreation staff are not supposed to leave the AIR blds unattended. The newsletter pretty much says this, but I'll ask for that to be specifically included. Jutta, would you mind?

And we'll post a sign as well on the rink house. Peter, shall I ask some of our staff to paint some signs? We can do this but need help installing it on the doors (esp. at the field house) , or would a city sign be better?

From Jutta Mason to Councillor Adam Giambrone, cc to park and rec staff, May 9 2007

Washroom availability is only going to get worse. We have been through this for years now -- it starts off with "no we can't leave washrooms open" and then they stay open after a while anyway because of all the complaints. As the days get longer and the park stays full later, people get tired of seeing guys relieving themselves against the trees. And it's worse for women. This park is very full and we need washrooms that stay open late.

It would be so nice not to have to fight this battle again this year. The principle here is "let the people use the washrooms." Can we just do this? (see June 30 item from last year)

From Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja to Parks supervsior Peter Leiss, cc Jutta Mason, May 15 2007

I just spoke with Marjolein from Councillor Giambrone's office last week. She said that public health are very concerned about Parks and Rec. providing soap and roll paper in the public washrooms of the park. I've assured her that I'd let you know for the field house.

From Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, May 15 2007

So what is the concern that these are being supplied or not?

From Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, cc Jutta Mason, May 16 2007

The concern is that there is no soap, paper towels or garbage bins in the field house washrooms. They have requested that Marjolein ensure these are there - she asked me and I'm passing it on.

Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, cc Jutta Mason, May 16 2007

Parks will continue to stock the washroom.

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, cc Councillor, Parks manager and director, etc. May 16 2007

In the early evening I found the park's field house washrooms in a terrible state. Some of the toilets are blocked with water balloons, with feces on top, the sink in the men's washroom was also blocked and water was running all over the floor. Some of the toilets are locked from the inside. I can only imagine what your poor cleaner Marjorie will face tomorrow morning when she comes to clean.

I spoke to park users, and as I suspected, this vandalism happened during the daytime today. I'm told that the toilets were not tolerable for park users for much of this afternoon.

I have a suggestion for how to prevent this. People who have known this park for many years have found a workable system of washroom operations. It involves keeping the washrooms closed in the daytime on weekdays so that St.Mary's students can't do their foolishness during their breaks (as most likely happened today), and opening them after 4 pm so that they are available for park users. (Before 4 the rink house washrooms are available because recreation staff are usually there.) As we have learned, opening the washrooms then and keeping them open late does not result in vandalism of the type that happened today, but does make the washrooms available to park users in the long spring and summer evenings.

Adjusting the washroom hours to local circumstances can be done cheaply and easily by letting the recreation staff have a key so that they can flexibly fit washroom availability to park use. However, it's my understanding that you have refused to give recreation staff access to the washroom key. And your own washroom closing crew has been closing the washrooms well before the park has emptied in the evening.

Please change your approach now so that washrooms are once more accessible when park users need them. I have cc'd the dufferingrovefriends list because they may wish to know the reason for the current washroom problems.

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, May 17 2007

It is accepted practice to clean the park field house washrooms when they are dirty. However, despite my e-mail yesterday about the dreadful state of those washrooms (and suggested solutions), they were unlocked by your staff this morning and left open all day with no cleaning since yesterday's vandalism. Park users were shocked at their condition.

And finally, Public Health has complained about the lack of soap and towels for handwashing in the Field House washrooms, but so far this has produced no response from you.

Better maintenance is needed, and better collaboration.

From Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Jutta Mason, May 18 2007

Thanks for your email. Please provide me with a copy of the Public Health complaint. I will be following up with Public Health for them to provide me with a copy of the complaint as I have no correspondence from Public Health regarding this issue. I will also be asking for a Public Health inspection and a report on these washrooms. As an alternative there are washrooms available in the rink house for the public to use.

I have instructed staff to clean the washrooms and to leave soap and paper towels. There are currently no soap dispensers in these washrooms. I will be placing a work order to have these added. I will also place a work order to have the Paper Towel dispensers repaired and or replaced.

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, May 18 2007

Hello Peter, thank you for taking care of the field house washroom handwashing supplies. There were still no trash receptacles in either of the washrooms (for paper towels). So the program staff brought some over just now. Also the sink in the men's room had not yet been unplugged and so was still leaking water all over the floor. So the program staff unplugged it. But it's nice to see a handwashing setup, when there hasn't been one in those washrooms for many years. It will be even better when there's a shelf for the towels in the men's room, and they don't have to stick the roll in the window well.

Re providing you with paper documentation from Public Health -- paper trails are your concern. I just do the e-mail trails and the local park user issues. I think we can agree that soap and paper towels are a good thing to have even with only a verbal complaint (via Marjolein from the Councillor's office -- and I gather that the park program staff already informed you before I did).

You make no reference to the state of the washrooms yesterday, nor to the solutions I itemized (including giving program staff a key), so I'll just keep a record as before.

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