Operation of wading pools in Ward 18 during the summer of 2012 shows clearly the direction that has been chosen by Parks Forestry and Recreation (PFR) in allocating resources on behalf of the people of Toronto.
Several years ago, after amalgamation, Parks Forestry and Recreation made a decision to centralize along functional lines. We think the rationale was to increase "specialization", and therefore "standards" in order to achieve "efficiencies" and "compliance" with procedures, derived from policies, in turn derived from Council decisions. A perfect (dis-integrated) machine.
Ward 18 parks, supported by local initiatives (including CELOS, the operator of this website), managed to resist this trend for a while, operating instead in what is virtually the opposite model. Staff around Dufferin Park, MacGregor Park, Campbell Park, and Wallace Emerson Park worked as a virtual collective, operating as much as possible within materials and budgets provided, always with an eye to outcomes for the users of the parks. A perfect (integrated) collective. The result of course was park operations (particularly Dufferin) that became iconic, not just in Toronto, but internationally (getting more than 180,000 results on a google search). Very popular and well used.
Then PFR lowered the boom. The results for the wading pools?
In this Topic we document some background material to these changes.
We think the effects of these changes are:
This is in contrast to the approach that had been used so successfully over recent times:
The first of these approaches we think drains meaning from the work; the latter infuses meaning in the work, with obvious consequences for staff performance.
The net result, we think, is reduction in efficiencies and effectiveness. And the pools are less connected with the community. Not nearly as much fun. Not welcoming. Available for fewer hours. But... you can see that there's some disembodied, self-referential logic at work here.
The extent of new "safety procedures" is also interesting. We're checking into this more, but it certainly appears that there is some over-zealousness at work here, and we're a bit worried about the amount of chlorine being dumped into the pools. What's interesting though is that the over-zealousness seems to be another manifestation of rationality over reason, that is logic being taken to it's inherent conclusion, without much reference to common sense.
But you decide. Go through the materials, and see what you think. By all means communicate your findings to this website.