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< Market vendor's bike stolen at park | Problems 2007 | Wading Pool Reconstruction >

Description: Drought conditions in the summer of 2007 require smaller trees to be watered
Status: Open
Department: Gardens
Categories: Service
Opened: 10 Aug 2007
(click to open)

Quick Page Table of Contents


From Jutta Mason to Forestry Supervisor Mark Ventresca, July 2 2007

Earlier in spring I asked you if you might have a walkabout at Dufferin Grove, to do a check on the trees there. You were very busy then but said you might be able to come in late June. I just returned from a month away and would love to have meet you at the park if you can make the time. Chris Gallop from Councillor Giambrone's office has said he'd like to accompany us and so would the coordinator of garden volunteers, Jenny Cook.

Could you let me know if there's a day this week or next when you could come over for an hour?

Two issues are

  1. trees that are compromised by soil compaction, particularly around the high traffic area by the bake oven, and
  2. watering the 32 newly planted trees. Recreation staff have begun to water them this past weekend because of the drought -- there seems to be no one else who can do it. Interesting dilemma!

Watering during drought?? 12 Jul 2007

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, July 12 2007

Susan Tibaldi Parkette water outlets are in good shape and the park friends there have watered the 4 new trees (after 2 of them showed signs of severe stress -- one may still die).

If it keeps being this dry, your grass cutters will have less cutting to do -- could they help water?

From Parks supervisor Peter Leiss to Jutta Mason July 13 2007

Interesting suggestion re: staff however we have a lot of work that needs to be accomplished during slower times.

From Jutta Mason to wading pool supervisor Vince Lawrence, August 5 2007, cc Councillor Adam Giambrone's assistant Chris Gallop, Councillor Joe Pantalone, Dufferin Grove Park recreation staff Mayssan Shuja

Today there was an extremely unpleasant scene at Campbell Park, regarding the watering of three dying trees near the wading pool. Mayssan and I had stopped by there yesterday and asked the two staff there (no one was in the pool) if one of them would put two buckets of water each on the three trees. (We explained all the reasons fully, including the Councillor's interest). Mayssan also told them we'd try to bring a hose over later. They said they would water the trees with the buckets in the meantime.

We bought them a hose at Wal-Mart and a Dufferin rec staff delivered it. But he couldn't get the nearby garden hose outlet turned on (the bolt was too rusty).

Today at noon I went by there and found four wading pool staff sitting talking at a picnic table. The pool was filled but there were no kids in the park. It turned out the wading pool staff had NOT watered the trees with two bucket-fuls yesterday and they had not managed to get the hose going either. They declined my invitation to water the trees right then, saying it isn't their job anyway. I was critical of that idea, and they became very unhappy with me and said I was being very disrespectful. So I watered the trees myself, with their bucket, while they sat at their picnic table and laughed.

I went back to Dufferin Grove and got another staff and a volunteer and we returned to try and hook up the hose. At that point there were three pool staff and two kids in the pool. But the wading pool staff felt that I had not asked them nicely enough to help so they declined working with us, and even refused to let us use their second bucket.

So maybe they need to get a sense of the whole picture at Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and of working on a bigger team?

However, for now, they seem to have no sense of being part of the bigger picture. Your supervisory staff Rose (who is also the sister of one of the workers there today) came to the park and said that it is not the job of aquatics staff to help with tree watering and that you yourself told her today, when she ran into you at Home Depot, that this is the job of Forestry.

I would like to suggest to you that you all work for the same City and that having trees to shade the parks is of great importance. The new trees the City has planted are very expensive and they are dying in large numbers. That's why you'll see the City's tree advocate (Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone) on the cc list above. This is not a problem that can wait for meetings.

Wading pool staff are ideal for helping out in this critical drought time. When there are two wading pool staff and only a couple of kids in the pool, one staff can definitely take ten minutes every day to save these drought-parched trees. The other one can still watch the pool.

Please let me know what you intend to do to fix this situation.

From Jutta Mason to Dufferin Grove Park recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, August 6 2007:

Mayssan, the trees are wilting by the minute and I'm very concerned. As you know, Councillor Giambrone is also very concerned, which is why he had set up a meeting with Parks and Forestry and Aquatics and you for last Friday Sadly there were no staff around to attend the meeting and it had to be cancelled. However I heard from Chris Gallop that it's everyone's intent to "make it happen." The problem is that the newly planted trees are dying now and they can't wait.

The agreement the Councillor was looking for is that the soil gets loosened if it's too hard and that hoses or pails of water are used to water the trees up to three times a day until the drought is over. I understand Parks would supply the hose and a recreation program will be developed using the "park ranger" model to show-and-tell park users (kids!) how trees are taken care of. Young wading pool staff can mentor park children, and preserve the shade for the playgrounds/parks at the same time.

It seemed that you had got wading pool staff cooperation when we were at Campbell on Saturday. But on Sunday noon I was told by those staff that they had not watered the trees and that was not their job. Please can you explain to me what's gone wrong here?

From Jutta Mason to Dufferin Grove Park recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, August 7 2007, cc to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, and Dave Chapman, holiday replacement for Parks supervisor Peter Leiss

As you see from this e-mail below I've been asking about new-tree watering for almost 4 weeks -- still no plan?

The 2007 budget allocated $1.063 million for new and enhanced services including "maintenance of newly planted trees" -- is this happening anywhere?

In Ward 18 there is no need for additional staff or money being spent, it just needs the leadership NOW using existing staff (no time for meetings, the new trees are in rough shape).

Existing PFR staff who can help water:

  1. Parks grass cutters (in this drought there's little need to run lawnmowers)
  2. Wading Pool staff (every wading pool has two staff and they're often not busy, so they can take turns moving hoses, work with little kids to be "park rangers")

Ward 18 parks with new or damaged trees:

  1. Dufferin Grove Park: rec staff and volunteers have been watering 26 new trees for three weeks -- now one Parks maintenance staff is helping with moving hoses -- all the rec staff/volunteers need is another $100 of garden hoses -- most stressed trees have recovered and look good
  2. Campbell Park: three new shade trees at south end of soccer field (near the wading pool) are almost dead, two others are in bad trouble too. Wading pool staff can water the trees with pails for now, Parks needs to bring the tool for turning on the trickle hoses. Then one wading pool staff can position and move the hoses (ten minutes three times a day) until the drought ends, or the trees show recovery, while the other staff keeps their eyes on the pool. Note: the wading pool staff have LOTS of time to do this, often the census is low. They can do this as programming, involving the kids (a very good activity, better than gimp).
  3. Dovercourt Park: five new trees in or near playground are badly stressed. Wading pool staff have sufficient hose (brought there by CELOS) to trickle-water the trees. This has begun, just needs support from supervisors. Note: wading pool staff have LOTS of time to move the hoses between the trees. Good to involve kids as little park rangers.
  4. Erwin Krickhahn Park: older birches on the hillside/berm show signs of struggle. They need water from Forestry or Parks (trickle hoses with y-connectors can be put there, then moved a couple of times during the day, NO NEED for staff to stay there)
  5. Susan Tibaldi Parkette: four new trees were showing stress but neighbours now do deep watering twice a week -- trees look much better. No need for extra staff (Dufferin Grove Rec staff act as resource).

So this is a good chance for everyone to pull together. Please help make it happen.

From Parks supervisor Dave Chapman, holiday replacement for Peter Leiss, to Jutta Mason, August 7 2007

I have asked Gus Chrisanthopolous to assist at all of the locations on your listing. I understand that he is going to ask the soccer group who are at Campbell Park to assist with those trees, and he will have his staff take care of as many of the other ones that are not taken care of by present on site staff. I trust this will help.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro, August 7 2007. cc to City Councillors Adam Giambrone and Joe Pantalone, Assistant to Councillor Gord Pirk Amy Johnston, Parks, Forestry and Recreation General Manager Brenda Librecz, Parks director Paul Ronan, Recreation director Don Boyle, Parks holiday replacement supervisor Dave Chapman, Aquatics manager Anne Jackson, Aquatics supervisor Gary Sanger, Forestry manager Mark Procunier, Tree Advocacy Program officer Uyen Dias

Tino, thanks for giving me wading pool supervisor Gary Sanger's cell number.

I'm happy to report that he said he would not try to push this issue back at some other branch. He said he is directing the wading pool staff that one staff person can spend a few minutes helping lay out hoses for emergency tree watering as long as the other staff stays at the wading pool, even if there is no one in the pool.

Happily there should be some showers this afternoon. However the water will tend to run off since the ground is like cement. So the emergency is still on and will continue until the trees show signs of recovery.

Forestry and Parks are still silent on my e-mails -- unclear whether they have any plan.

The hoses have been paid for from Dufferin Grove "cookie money" so far, but it would be good if Parks could help out with this. Also the "trickle method" (very low water pressure for slow and deep watering) has been explained to wading pool staff and Mayssan will go back and check how it's going (and encourage them to involve the children).

From Jutta Mason to Facilities supervisor Joe Steidl, August 7 2007:

Would your plumber be able to bring the rec staff at Dufferin Grove a tool (called a "key"?) to turn on the tap on the external wall of Campbell Park rink house? They need to connect some hoses there, so that wading pool staff there can water the new trees at Campbell that are almost dead from the drought.

From Facilities supervisor Joe Steidl to Jutta Mason, August 8 2007

Joe Steidl wrote: Hi, I spoke to my plumber foreperson and he will deliver one tomorrow.

From Forestry Supervisor Mark Ventresca to Jutta Mason, August 8 2007

Sorry about the delay, it has been our regular zoo...

I can make arrangements to do a walk about over the next week or two if you have the time. If you are looking for suggested dates either next Tues or Thurs is fine with me. I prefer the mornings but am currently free both of those days.

From Jutta Mason to Forestry supervisor Mark Ventresca, August 8 2007

Let's do 10 a.m. on Tuesday and I'll ask as many of those great Dufferin rec staff as possible, so we can all learn some stuff from you.

Thanks for doing this -- I appreciate that you must be overloaded.

Meantime I do hope that Forestry is able to rescue a few more of the new trees. The wading pool staff citywide could be a big help, if anyone can supervise them to run garden hoses. Many of the wading pools are in full sun (not enough trees!) and so not many people use them and the young staff are often idle. All that labour power, unused!!

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Dave Chapman, holiday replacement for Peter Leiss, cc wading pool supervisor Gary Sanger, recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Forestry Director Richard Ubbens, City Councillor Adam Giambrone, and Parks director Paul Ronan, August 8 2007

That bit of rain last night didn't do much, sadly. So today the new trees at Campbell need to be watered again, in case the rec staff can keep them from dying. The thick black hose that the foreman delivered to Campbell is not useful and Mayssan probably already asked it to be removed. In case you and Mayssan have not spoken about this yet -- shall we buy some garden hoses at Wal-mart and submit the bill to you for your petty cash?

And could we also submit the bill for the Dovercourt hoses?

From Parks supervisor Dave Chapman, holiday replacement for Peter Leiss, to Jutta Mason, August 8 2007

We have some smaller black hose which will be easier to use I will call Gus and speak to him. They will stand up better than the garden hose.

From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Dave Chapman, holiday replacement for Peter Leiss, August 8 2007

This will only work if the hoses have a regular-gauge hookup and are not too heavy. We need to make this work very easily for young, inexperienced wading pool staff. Garden hoses cost $20 each and may get stolen anyway, so having them stand up well is not such an issue. The goal is just to get the water onto the tree roots.

Tree watering training 08 Aug 2007

From Jutta Mason to wading pool supervisor Gary Sanger, August 8 2007:

Mayssan may have already e-mailed you, but in case she didn't get a chance: Chris Gallop said today he'd like you folks to do some tree watering training with your wading pool staff. I agree. The best, most reliable, and least labour-intensive thing is to do deep root watering with trickle garden hoses. But some of the kids think it's neat to blast the trees with the full force of the black hoses. That won't help and could hurt if the soil gets blown off the roots. So they need to have a quick training session, on-site.

Given the fact that the new trees get worse every day, I think it would be best if the training could begin Thursday morning, Friday at the very latest. (The forecast seems to hold only a slight chance of showers, no relief in sight). Suggestion: begin at Campbell, with you and your supervisory staff, so they can go on to teach at other wading pools. Also Peter Leiss if he's back (otherwise Dave Chapman) and Mayssan. I can also come, and bring a trowel to show the kids how dry the cement-like the ground is even when you pour water on top.

Has Forestry given any idea of a plan? Are they willing to help with hoses? This is an excellent time for Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff to work together directly -- a good precedent for later. And wading pool staff taking the lead here is also appropriate -- the reason why many of the wading pools are currently so under-used is that most of them are in blazing sun -- so the new trees are terribly important to the pools and playgrounds.

Please let me know as soon as possible when this training can happen.

From Forestry Manager Mark Procunier to Jutta Mason, August 9 2007:

I have forwarded your email to Dean Hart, who is our Urban Forestry Operations Manager, for your park area.

Dean is back from holidays next week, and hopefully will be able to speak to the proper Forestry Operations Supervisor that should be contacted.

From Jutta Mason to Forestry supervisor Mark Procunier, cc Forestry Director Richard Ubbens and City Councillor Adam Giambrone

Thanks Mark, it would be great if Forestry would get the trees watered. However, the trees are dying now and I think they need water before next week when Dean comes back.

Hopefully the wading pool staff can help out elsewhere across the city -- they certainly have time on their hands, unlike you and your staff. And as Richard Ubbens writes, the task is simple. It does, however, need some follow-up, and for now that's being done by Dufferin Grove rec staff, at least for the parks around here.

From Forestry Director Richard Ubbens to Jutta Mason and wading pool supervisor Gary Sanger, August 9 2007:

I'm trying to catch up on e-mail after a short vacation and came across this e-mail amid a sea of others.

Thank you very much for your efforts and help watering trees! Any young tree that has been planted in the last 3 or 4 years is in dire need of some water. This drought is very bad. That said, I don't believe training is necessary as the act of watering a tree is very simple:

2 pails of water per tree or two minutes with a hose daily.... every other day is okay too. That's it!

In fact that is more than a young tree can use but the idea is that when one does this, the soil around the tree gets moistened which helps roots grow. The moisture in the soil also opens the pores in the soil and after a couple of waterings, the water will go in the soil more easily.

If you really want to impress people, you can add five drops of Sunlight liquid dish detergent to the first bucket on the first watering. It acts as a wetting agent and helps the water go into the soil. Now you have all the trade secrets.

From Jutta Mason to Forestry director Richard Ubbens, August 9 2007

Thanks for the good advice Richard. Since the drought has gone on so long, we find that it's also important to loosen the cement-like soil around the trees and make it flat or even doughnut-like so that the water doesn't just run off. Since the wading pool staff are often quite young teenagers, they do seem to need their hand held even in simple things like this. Dufferin Grove rec staff are doing this.

Quite a few young trees have already died in the smaller parks. But some of the trees that have been watered this week by wading pool staff are beginning to pick up -- a great sight! (Nobody likes a wading pool without shade -- trees are a win-win for kids AND wading pools staff.)

The park grass is dried out and hard in many places and even many of the older trees are now dropping leaves and showing lots of brown. It's worse where trees were planted on berms -- in one park by the railway tracks near here, five biggish tamaracks, three aspens, and five maples are all looking quite stressed or worse. All of them were planted about ten years ago.

One of your forestry supervisors, Mark Ventresca, is coming over here on Tuesday and we'll show him all this. I hope the Forestry branch is watering some of the new City trees also.

From Jutta Mason to Aquatics manager Anne Jackson, August 9 2007:

As you may know, I have been trying very hard to see if the parched new trees near wading playgrounds/pools in parks can be rescued by your wading pool staff. I have heard that you support this idea in principle, which is an important first step, but there is not sufficient action at the moment. Tomorrow is Friday and despite many hours of effort by me and by city recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, it appears that another week may pass without much progress.

Your division is shooting itself in the foot if many of the new trees near wading pools/playgrounds are allowed to die or are so stressed that they won't survive the winter. Wading pools with no shade have very low usage, as you are probably aware. Beyond that, there are the environmental issues of which everyone is aware, and the issue of money wasted by planting trees and not caring for them. In a City this cash-strapped, letting the new trees die needlessly will not help.

Staffing cost is no issue here -- the (wading pool) staff are there and very visibly underemployed. It would be edifying for these young workers to see themselves as park rangers in addition to their other small tasks.

Could you let me know what the City's plans are in response to this emergency situation?

From Aquatics manager Anne Jackson to Jutta Mason, August 9 2007:

I was indeed aware of the request to our aquatic staff to assist with watering needy assets in and around our wading pools at some locations and I do support this idea.

Thanks to Richard Ubbens for informing us on how to water (email) - 2 pails of water per tree or two minutes with a hose daily or every other day is simply all the water that is necessary. In followup to this message, I spoke to Gary Sanger, the Aquatic Superivosr, who will be directing the staff to follow this procedure beginning tomorrow.

It must be emphasized however that our aquatic staff's first responsibility is to the wading pool and to ensure that the pool is supervised at all times. This responsibility cannot be compromised.

From Jutta Mason to Aquatics manager Anne Jackson, August 9 2007

I am not convinced that anyone at the city "owns" this issue right now. If I hear that wading pool staff are stepping up to save trees all over the city, I will be thrilled and so will the next generation of little kids that gets to enjoy the shade while they're splashing. Is Gary able to instruct your wading pool staff all over the city to do this watering, wherever the trees are near the wading pool?

In my recent visits to wading pools in the west I noted that on the hot days, those pools with little shade were often used by no one, or by two or three kids, except when a summer camp comes. Since there are usually two wading pool staff, that means one of them has time to water the stressed trees without ever pulling the other one away from observing the pool. So safety is not compromised, and wading pool staff can be a big help.

The trees at Campbell Park, which had seemed almost dead, are beginning to show some small signs of recovery after only five days. The wading pool staff are proud, and so they should be. But this watering action has to go beyond just where I have been promoting it. It would be wonderful if you could make that happen.

From Dufferin Grove Park recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, August 9 2007:

As requested - here is an outline of the Watering Program for new trees in Ward 18 parks mentored by Recreation Staff:

Dufferin, Campbell, Dovercourt.

Outstanding issues:

Dufferin : Parks staff to assist Rec. with watering during course of day, help prepare tree base for wood chip arrival.

Campbell : hose may be a little too large and flow too strong

Dovercourt : there is a need to find an in ground outlet - wading pool staff have health and safety objections re taking the water from the wading pool tap

Erwin Krickhahn: no plan of action with Recreation - possible coordination of delivering wood chips there.

Recommend that there be a site visit with Parks and wading pool supervisors, community groups and Rec. staff to resolve these issues.

Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, August 9 2007:

I was at Erwin Krickhahn Park this evening and saw that the tree situation has deteriorated since last weekend. Five tamaracks, three aspens, and five maples are all looking quite stressed or worse. All but one of them were planted about ten years ago (one maple is new). They need water now.

One of the Dufferin rec staff can buy three garden hoses at Wal-mart and get them up there tomorrow morning, and Tom Feeney tells me there's a water outlet. Can Joe help set them up and let them trickle into the ground? Will you help pay for the hoses, or shall we cover it with Dufferin Grove snack bar money?

From Park supervisor Peter Leiss to Jutta Mason, August 10 2007:

Thanks for your email. This is still a Forestry issue. Please direct your questions to Mark. The trees in this area are well established and should not require additional watering. The trees will appear to be stressed the same as all trees that have been in place for sometime. The trees will reduce the amount of leaves in self preservation.

From Jutta Mason to Parks Supervisor Peter Leiss, August 10 2007:

Fascinating. Despite having been a gardener for many years, there's still so much I don't know. I had no idea that a tree with only dead leaves in this summer drought is not at all damaged but is only preserving itself. Just in case this is not so, we'll set up hoses for the berm at Erwin Krickhahn. But I'll watch the stressed trees in other parks carefully and in the next couple of years if they're just fine, that will be a new thing I've learned.

From Forestry Director Richard Ubbens to Jutta Mason, August 10 2007:

At the risk of cluttering people's email, I respond with a brief note. We do indeed have as many water trucks and crews out as possible. We also have employed contractors to water although it is difficult to get them as they are busy watering so many of their own projects on private property and otherwise. Parks staff across the city have been helping as well in the parks.

At this point, it is often too late to see results as the trees lose leaves in order to conserve water. Watering is still important even though a tree may looks bad. Breaking up soil at the base is not a great idea unless only the soil surface is "scratched" - there is too much risk of damaging new roots on new trees at a time when every root counts. Better a slow application of water than too much disturbance of soil. The water does the job of loosening the soil once it is in the ground.

From Aquatics Manager Anne Jackson to Urban Forestry Director Richard Ubbens, August 10, 2007:

Thanks for giving needed input on how to water young trees.

I don't believe you were copied on the attached email which I received yesterday from Jutta. In this email Jutta talks about a city-wide initiative for all wading pool staff to water trees in their parks. I infer from her email (as she addresses it to me) that she thinks this initiative should be "owned" by aquatics.

If wading pool attendants are needed to help with watering, I will be more than happy to ensure that they are directed to do so, but I believe the initial request needs to come from Forestry staff (to aquatic staff) as your staff know where the new trees needing water are located and whether these trees need more watering than you can provide and whether there is a wading pool in appropriate proximity to the trees. As you know many parks do not have a wading pool.

The young staff would also require some additional resources such as hoses and in some cases wrenches. Where should these resources come from?

Richard, please have a look at Jutta's email and let me know what you think is the appropriate action.

From Jutta Mason to Aquatics manager Anne Jackson, cc Forestry Director Richard Ubbens, August 10 2007:

Bravo! Thanks Anne for contacting Richard.

Now let's see if PFR can manage collaborate on this simple, good thing. It would make a feel-good news story for the weekend at a time when there's lots of depressing news about the City. I can send it to the news people.

No need for forestry specialists to tell which trees need watering -- I'm afraid it's only too obvious -- i.e. every tree near a playground/ wading pool whose leaves are beginning to turn brown.

No need for hoses to begin with -- if you, Anne, could just send out the order for one of each two wading pool staff to put two buckets of water s-lo-w-l-y at the base of every such tree twice a day (to begin), that would already help SO much. Can you do it before you leave for the weekend?

From Chris Gallop, Assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Horticulture supervisor Chris Martin, August 10 2007:

If we get easy access to water and hoses figured out at this park, I'm quite sure that some of the residents on Rankin Crescent would be willing to volunteer to do the watering. These are the same residents who are participating in the community gardening projects in and around that park. There is a shed and water hook-up going in for the garden which should work well for this. Chris, what is the status of those projects?

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, Assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, August 10 2007, cc Parks manager Sandy Straw:

Hi -- there's no shed nor tap only a pile of dirt there now and some folks were trying to play cricket around it last night. But I hear there's an in-ground water outlet and Corey will check on it this morning, and set up hoses if he can. Maybe Forestry will re-imburse us, since Peter says it's not their thing.

The residents of Rankin Crescent have a lot of stressed trees in their front yards, so if you can make the link between Corey and them, that might bring the problem into more focus for all of them -- a win-win.

From Horticulture Supervisor Chris Martin to Chris Gallop, Assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, August 10 2007

Regarding the community garden (CG) project's status, we have; - the stakeouts - a water source adjacent the garden - compost has been delivered - Request forwarded to the City's Community Gardener's Office for (i) CG ID sign, (ii) shed, (iii) fencing, (iv) composter

The irrigation system was vandalized and I have been advised that repairs are to be completed sometime today. If repairs are completed at the end of the business day, to expedite "ground breaking" of the CG area the irrigation will be turned on Saturday. The rainbird quick couplers range should cover CG area and flanking trees.

Let me know the address and tel no. of any interested area residents that are interested adn able to move irrigation sprinlers around to cover off the reminder of the park. I will contact them and set them up.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Dufferin Grove Recreation staff Corey Chivers and Jutta Mason:

I just sent out a call for volunteers to all the Rankin community gardeners. I've asked them to email Corey if they are interested in helping.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Parks supervisors Dave Chapman and Peter Leiss, Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Aquatics supervisor Gary Sanger, Recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, and Jutta Mason, August 10 2007

How about 10 am on Monday for the site meeting?

From Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, August 10 2007, to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss:

Peter, as we discussed, we also need some sprinkler attachments for the hoses at Campbell for watering the field. Can you also let Gary know the proper amount of watering for the field so he can get the procedure to his staff at that location.

From Aquatics manager Anne Jackson to Jutta Mason, August 10 2007

It is now 3:30 on Friday. At your request, I have sent the directive to the Aquatic Supervisors across the city. The next time each supervisor picks up their email they will cascade this request to their Recreationists and the wading pool coodiniators who will communicate directly to the wading pool staff.

Let's hope we get rain on the weekend.

From Jutta Mason to wading pool supervisor Gary Sanger, August 11 2007

From the Globe and Mail, Saturday August 11 2007: Article showing picture of dust-bowl Campbell Park soccer field. From the article: Why not water by hand? Especially such a small park. "We don't have the staff to do that..." she says.

That's Parks manager Sandy Straw being quoted.

4.45p.m. Saturday August 11, Campbell Park. Number of wading pool staff: 2. Number of kids in the wading pool: 0.

Dufferin Grove Park rec staff person arrives at the park, to move the hose that was watering the trees and was then put out to water the soccer field. This rec staff takes 6 seconds to move the hose ten feet over, to water a new patch. He had to bike all the way up there because Campbell wading pool staff are not permitted to move the hose. The weekend wading pool in-charge staff issued this directive: "We are not required to help water the field. Even the trees are not our first priority. We would rather see dead trees than dead kids."

We can agree with her there. Happily, that choice is not at issue. However, when one wading pool staff goes on break, s/he leaves the park for between 20 minutes to an hour. So when two staff are in the park, one can take 5 minutes and move the hose.

Please either teach this in-charge staff person to work more collaboratively, or take her off this job.

From Jutta Mason to Dakshana Bascaramurty, National Post reporter, August 11 2007:

I read your article "Drought creates 'emergency' for city trees," in the National Post last Friday, with interest.

In case you want to follow up: many of the newly planted (and therefore vulnerable) trees in City parks are near City wading pools (where the trees were planted to give more shade). There are about 120 young wading pool summer staff working for the City at those wading pools. Since they always sit at the pool in two's, that means half of each team has plenty of time to help water trees. Until the last few days, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division had not considered getting tree (or soccer field) watering help from their own summer staff, but now they are trying out that idea.

Here is the history of the negotiation, on the Dufferin Grove Park web site:

So you see the help is there, the buckets are there, the water is there -- maybe a happier story will be there too.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, Assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, August 12 2007

Perhaps you all saw the article in the Globe on Saturday, with a picture showing how bad the soccer field is at Campbell. Happily, we set up the first soccer-field hoses on Friday, and I've just come back from repositioning them -- Corey and I took turns since the Campbell staff were not too pleased to do it.

We bought some green hoses for Campbell and they work better than the old black hoses. Only Local 416 staff should use the black ones. Green hoses are cheap and light and they have a better chance of being used by Campbell wading pool staff, who are already convinced that this is all too much.

It would be great if the black hoses could be taken away so that they don't clutter up the Campbell office -- another thing making the wading pool staff unhappy. (And I don't blame them -- why give them heavy leaky hoses that come apart at every join?)

Rather than bringing any more of that old unwieldy watering equipment, maybe Peter could help pay for the green hoses and the sprinklers from his petty cash. I have asked a number of times and there's never been a reply, but I think it would be very fair not to make us pay for the watering equipment from the Dufferin Grove snack bar money. It will come in under $200 anyway.

What are the plans for the soccer field? The gentle two-hour rain we had today went about 1 mm into the desert-like ground -- but the wading pool staff have many hours in the day when they can move the hoses. Is there a way to get input from the Eagles?

From Jutta Mason to Horticulture Supervisor Chris Martin, August 12 2007

Hi there -- Corey set up four long green hoses at Erwin Krickhahn Park on Friday (they cost the Dufferin Grove snack bar $100) and he and Mayssan and I took turns moving them around, along with a dog walker whose mom lives there. Corey bought some fluorescent tape and tied it to those trees that are struggling (many). So it was easy to water the trees. The hoses stayed there without being vandalized all weekend, so we can cross our fingers. And even if the hoses are stolen now, a heck of a lot of water went into that park this weekend with those hoses.

An irrigation system would be nice too -- where is it and can it be made to work?

By the way, Corey says that no one e-mailed him from the community garden group. Will you folks be able to get in touch with your contacts there?

From Jutta Mason to Aquatics manager Anne Jackson, Augst 12 2007

On Saturday when I went around to some of the wading pools in this part of town, none of them had heard of your e-mail. So communication is tricky.

However, at every park I went to the wading pool staff were courteous and even a bit interested. I took along the fluorescent tree tape and marked the trees near the wading pool that are struggling. Then I pointed them out to the wading pool staff and explained about the s-l-o-w watering with two buckets of water. I suggested that they contact their supervisor to get direction, but their supervisors were unaware of your e-mail. However some of the wading pool staff chose to do the watering anyway, and I imagine the rest will do so when they receive your direction on Monday.

Maybe Forestry would like to walk around with their own tape and decide which trees should be added/subtracted from the ones I marked? Elsewhere too? (If they have no time, it's pretty obvious anyway).

From Jutta Mason to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro, August 12 2007

Tino, I heard that you are on the PFR "neighbourhood team" in this area. It seems to me that this tree watering issue is a good example of a problem where collaboration between different branches can be really helpful. Campbell wading pool is a good test of how a neighbourhood team might function.

Here's the problem: on Saturday, the in-charge for this area's wading pools told the Campbell staff not to answer their radio if your recreation staff called them, since your staff are from Recreation and not Aquatics. And she told the Cambell staff that none of them was to walk over and move the hose on the soccer field, even if one staff stayed at the pool while the other one took ten seconds to kick the hose to another spot. So your recreation staff had to come in person and move the hose.

It seems to me that there are too many folks pointing the finger at another branch: "Forestry should do it"...."Aquatics shouldn't talk to recreation"..etc. And Sandy Straw had to tell the Globe that there are no staff to water the field, when those wading pool staff are right there, one to watch the pool and the other to help out, so kids can have shade and play sports.

With the present budget troubles, silos don't work. Could the different branches talk to one another about this? Would you be able to call a meeting of the neighborhood team about this issue? Or is that not what such teams are for?

From Forestry supervisor Mark Ventresca to Dufferin Grove recreation staff Mayssan Shuja, August 15 2007

A newly planted tree on clay soils with a diameter of 6 cm (2.4 inches) will require approximately 45 litres (10 gallons) of water every 10 to 14 days. Take rainfall (or lack thereof) and lawn irrigation schedules into account when planning your tree watering schedule. Trees on sandy soils require about twice as much water as trees on clay soils (every 5 to 7 days). Apply water slowly into a "berm" of mulch placed at the edge of the planting hole, moving it outward to enlarge the basin as the tree grows. Mature trees located on clay soils require approximately 7 litres (1.6 gallons) of water for every centimetre (0.4 inch) of tree diameter (measured at breast height: 1.3 metres (4.5 feet) above the ground). Saturating the tree infrequently encourages the production of a deep root system and drought tolerant trees. Frequent shallow watering encourages surface rooting, which makes the tree more vulnerable to drying out.

From Parks Supervisor Peter Leiss to Jutta Mason, August 16 2007

Parks has considered your request for re-imbursement for the cost of hoses purchased from funds generated from the Snack bar at dufferin Grove Park. Parks will not re-imburse these costs at this time.

  • Parks has supplied the same hoses that were used last year by recreation staff with no issues that I am aware of.
  • The decision to purchase hoses was your decision and as such Parks can not be expected to pay for items not approved in the normal process.
  • All purchases are subject to audit and this re-imbursement would be questioned in the event of an audit.
  • Your request should properly be going to Forestry as tree watering is a Forestry program
From Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, August 16 2007, cc Parks manager Sandy Straw, Parks director Paul Ronan, Forestry director Richard Ubbens, City Councillor Adam Giambrone, City Councillor Joe Panatalone, etc.

Your e-mail is a very clear illustration of the difference between outcome-based action and process-based action. Many new park trees were dying of lack of water. When we saw that the black hoses, delivered to Campbell Park by your staff, come apart at the joins during watering and also leak, and that they're very heavy, we bought light-weight green hoses, set them up, and tried to engage the wading pool staff in helping to water.

Since this was more than a month into the drought and no tree-watering action had been taken by anyone, we chose not to wait for "approval in the normal process" to buy such cheap hoses. PFR inaction had been clearly demonstrated.

Getting the trees watered was the desired outcome, and recreation staff together with community people and some reluctant wading pool staff did that.

You are concerned that an audit would question you paying for the green watering hoses.

One would hope that your Division will ask questions, for sure, but not about reimbursing $100 in cheap hoses to keep thousands of dollars worth of trees alive. The questions need to be about how your organization can accomplish simple things like tree watering in a drought:

1. Can PFR supervisors pull together in this cash-strapped city?

2. Can you and your colleagues collaborate on making tree watering work, rather than "it's somebody else's job"?

3. Can you and your colleagues collaborate on maintaining (including watering) sports fields for park users, rather than "it's somebody else's job"?

4. Can you build on the efforts of residents, rather than telling them they used the wrong process?

If the answer is no, something needs to change, as soon as possible. I have cc'd this to the Deputy Mayor's office too, in his role as tree advocate.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, August 16 2007.

I've gone ahead and brought this up with both Forestry and Clean and Beautiful to see if either one of them would be able to help with these costs. I'll keep you posted.

From Jutta Mason to tree friends Michael Monastaryskyj, Mayssan Shuja, Corey Chivers and Mario Lourenco, August 17 2007

Here's some interesting stuff from Mark the forestry guy. It doesn't address drought-damaged trees but it does make me think that the little trees at Dufferin (and at the south end of Campbell) have been well-watered and can get a rest for half a week. Focusing on the big stressed trees at Dufferin is a good idea now. That includes the poor oak and the maple near the north end of the Gladstone path (i.e. at the paved end).

All hands on deck for mulching now that the big pile has appeared at the south!

From Jutta Mason To Tino DeCastro, Sep 11 2007

Both Campbell Park and Erwin Krickhahn Park are still showing a lot of drought stress. Since the Parks staff haven't got the mandate to water, I want to let you know that CELOS is paying Michael Monastyrskyj to water the trees in both places, to try to help strengthen the trees as they go into the fall and winter.

As you know, the Toronto Eagles hired Michael to water the soccer field at Campbell, since the wading pool staff did not perform that task this year. With Michael's work over the past month, the soccer field has recovered far better than we expected, showing how do-able the watering is even just using garden hoses.

However, of the new trees at Campbell Park, four out of five at the north end have died, and two on the west side are very stressed. Some of the older trees are also showing stress, and Michael will try to get water to them as well. (This is on the advice of Forestry.)

At Erwin Krickhahn Park, there are six medium-age trees that are close to being dead and the newer trees are not in good shape either.

Please let the Neighbourhood team know that we are paying for this tree watering from the Dufferin Grove snack bar income.

Any links to community volunteers in those areas would also be appreciated, Michael could work with them.

From Jutta Mason To Chris Gallop, Sep 18 2007

Michael M. is ready to go and water the trees at Erwin Krickhahn. He has lots of our hoses but he needs the connection for the hoses. I've cc'd Tom Feeney here -- I heard Peter Leiss is on holidays -- would you be able to help out here?

Michael plans to go to the Krickhahn meeting on Wednesday, maybe you can let him know if there's someone else we should be calling (or if someone else is watering).

The fall is still dry and the trees need water to store up for the winter -- that's why Micheal is doing this. I've cc'd him here if you want to contact him directly (although you probably have his e-mail address anyway).Thanks

From Chris Gallop To Jutta Mason , Sep 18 2007

I'll ask Sandy as well if she can have someone drop a connector off somewhere for Michael.

From Sandy Straw to Chris Gallop And Jutta Mason , Sep 18 2007

This is a Forestry issue so I will redirect to them...I am no expert on whether the trees need watering or not...I will defer to their extertise. The Forestry Supervisor is Kevin DeCooman and his office number is 2 -6629. I will also copy him on this email. Hope that helps

From Chris Gallop To Jutta Mason,Sandy Straw and Kevin Decooman, Sep 18 2007

It's a mechanical issue Sandy, they are missing the little connector piece they need to connect the hoses to the water valve at the park. Peter was helping with this for the informal watering program that was thrown together earlier this summer to help cope with the drought.

From Kevin Decooman To Chris Gallop, Jutta Mason and Sandy Straw, Sep 18 2007

I think Tom Feeney might be the person to help, sound like a plumbing issue.

From Sandy Straw To Chris Gallop, Jutta Mason and kevin Decooman, Sep 18 2007

Sorry I did not realize that TOM FEENEY. Pls provide the necessary support pieces for the hose so the community can support the trees in this dry spell TOM let us all know when this is complete and thanks for your help

From JUtta Mason To dufferingrovefriends-google,Sep 28 2007

Hello -- re Hamish W.'s comment:

"It was very nice to see fresh mulch put down over the trees in the Dufferin Grove where the market occurs because it's possible that all the good people getting to all that good food will help kill off those good trees by trampling their roots. They can't say "Ouch", nor can they move. hamish w"

Sounds like you're a tree-lover, Hamish, and others on this list probably are too. Market manager Anne Freeman arranged with the City staff, for the new dirt and grass seed, and market money goes toward the watering -- but there are other heavily used areas of the park that need the mulching even more than the once-a-week market area -- let park staff know if you're interested in helping (the City doesn't usually do that kind of thing).

Any help for the trees, from park users who walk or bike there and therefore compact the ground, is very welcome! To contact park staff: 416 392-0913.

From Ann Bjorseth To, Oct 22 2007

I was so happy to see the work that the TV show did with the apartment house on St. Clarens, but the trees are starting to look weebly. Is there a plan to water them? Anyway, thanks to everyone who helped make the trees happen. And whatever else they did to help out the people who live there.

From Ann Homan To Jutta Mason, Oct23 2007

October is a good planting season -- the ground is still warm and there is lots of rain. The weebly trees you are referring to may be the Hydrangeas. They are not supposed to be staked -- they are supposed to sway in the wind, and are very strong and flexible. Overall, it is not uncommon for trees to look a little scraggly in the first year or two of planting -- they are giving all their energy to establishing their root system. They work on their leaves once their roots are strong.

From Jutta Mason To, Oct 23 2007

Just a heads-up about water, though -- at a Toronto Trees Calendar event at City Hall last night there were two landscapers (native trees their specialty) who cautioned that this year's drought has been so bad that all new trees and shrubs need water this fall as well. -- I write this as it's raining but remember that the ground is so deeply dry that it would need two weeks of rain now to catch up -- so when it's not raining, a hose wouldn't hurt, often, until the ground finally freezes.

From Michael Monastyrskyj to Jutta Mason, Nov 1 2007

I found this more recent article in the Star. It comes with a pdf chart. I think we hit the jackpot. See attached document. Since Jan. 1, Greater Toronto has received only 412.2 millimetres of rain, which is about two-thirds of normal levels. It was only slightly drier in 1958, when 411.3 millimetres of rain fell in the first 10 months.

"If the GTA doesn't get a good soaking soon, that may mean more distressed trees and forests come spring, and lower lake and stream levels, which will affect fish habitats, he says."

It's not the heat, it's the (lack of) humidity

Parched fall amazes forecaster rain storms happened `all around us' but kept missing Toronto

By: Curtis Rush, Staff Reporter
Published: October 30, 2007
Source: Toronto Star

The warm and dry conditions throughout the GTA continue to topple marks in place for 50 to 60 years.

In some cases, all-time records are falling.

For instance, this fall is turning into the warmest September-October combination on record, according to Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.

Factoring in the forecasts for the last two days of October, he expects September-October to record an average temperature of 16.1, exceeding the previous mark of 15.7 set in 1961.

October alone also looks like a record-breaker, with the average temperature expected to wind up at 14.1C, topping 13.6 in 1963.

But it is not the warmth drawing Phillips' attention.


(See Warm Dry Chart)

From Georgie Donais To Jutta Mason, Nov 12 2007

There was an article in the Star yesterday about trees, and about getting "hoses into the hands of people to water trees in public space". Ahem.

Hoses are just the very first step, or the very last one actually, since they are for emergency situations only. What we need is a fundamental shift in understanding about the water that falls on our city as rain, and begin to farm that water for the benefit of all the new trees, and for the groundwater.

In Texas, we heard a lot about rainwater and how to harness it to most beneficial effect. As a thank you for sending me down south, I bought CELOS a book that gives a general overview of things we could be doing in the city (and the park) to this end. I also bought CELOS the new greenTOpia, to which I contributed, and within which the article I mention above (included below) is printed.

Toronto's urban forest is ailing

Trees, in all their green glory, become more valuable the longer they stand. It will take a sea change in attitude to cure it. Do we have the will?

By: Todd Irvine, Special to the Star
Published: November 11, 2007
Source: The Toronto Star

In March 2007, Mayor David Miller announced that one of the key goals of the city's new green plan is to double the canopy cover of Toronto's urban forest, from 17 per cent to 34 per cent, by 2050.

This is not an easy task: growing an urban forest will take a lot more than sticking trees in the ground. It'll take a drastic change in our relationship with nature: a willingness to forgo the new pool in favour of a sugar maple, and to exchange prime downtown parking spaces for fertile beds of soil where tree roots can thrive.

Are Torontonians prepared for this? Do politicians have the will to stand behind their bold promises with strong regulations and the resources to accomplish their goals?

Within the city, trees become more valuable the longer they stand other than land, they're the only amenity the city has that appreciates over time. A recent study completed by the City of New York concluded that the city enjoys us $5.60 (U.S.) in benefits for every $1 (U.S.) spent caring for its trees.

There are an estimated 7 million trees growing within Toronto's borders, at least half of them on private property. In the recently released Our Common Grounds report, city staff here estimate that Toronto's street trees alone are valued at nearly $2 billion.


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