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Restricted access correspondence

31-May-2010 [106]

• Restricted staff access to storage means rink mats get lost

Rink Mats

March 1 2010, to Acting Parks Director Andy Koropeski:

If the remaining rinks close in the next few days, I have two requests for the three Ward 18 rinks: a) that Local 416 staff be directed to help Local 79 staff to put the rinks to bed by lifting the outside skate mats (they always used to but not any more in the last 5-6 years) and b) that the mats be placed in a corner of each of the compressor rooms so that they can be located easily at the beginning of next season. This was the practice until 2 years ago. More recently, when the mats were trucked off-site to unknown points, many of the mats did not return. Setting up the rinks with insufficient mats is a struggle.

March 12, 2010 to Acting Parks Director Andy Koropeski:

So far no progress on the mats for the outdoor rinks in Ward 18
The main thing is to allow the rubber skate mats to be stored in the compressor rooms (currently prohibited by Peter Leiss). If they are neatly stacked, there is no safety issue and there's plenty of room. That way there will not be a repeat of the missing-mats problem from this past season. Would you be willing to direct Parks staff to help that happen?

As a secondary note: the 416 staff did not return to lift the mats, so the 79 staff are doing it. Are there currently any rinks where 416 staff look after the mats?

March 12, from the Parks Director:

I am having staff advise me on your question and will let you know outcome.

March 12, 2010, from Jutta Mason

Thanks Andy -- I'll check back with you on Monday, since the mats need to be dealt with (they're still outside). If this rather simple request turns out to be complex, please let me know the reasons.

March 12 2010, to Carol Cormier, for Andy Koropeski (on holiday)

I just got an auto-reply to this follow-up message I sent to Andy -- the question of local storage of skate mats, and help from 416 workers -- I guess everybody's on holidays, but Roman will be back on Monday. I'll call you to see if you can give him the go-ahead to deal with the mats without Ward 18 rinks losing them like they did this past season.

March 15 2010, from Carol Cormier:

Further to your voice message today. I'm following up with district staff on storage for the Artificial Ice Rink skate mats. Will get back to you tomorrow. thanks for your patience.

March 15 2010, to Carol Cormier:

Thanks, I hope they end up in the turned-off compressor rooms of their appropriate rinks -- a beautifully simple solution.

March 16 2010, from Carol Cormier:

I have been advised by the operations staff that the A.I.R. rink mats have been placed in the compressor room at Dufferin Grove by on site staff. They can remain there until next rink season. The only requirement is that they be stored neatly to allow access by Technical Services staff as required. I trust this addresses your concern.

March 16 2010, to Carol Cormier:

I'm really glad to hear that the Dufferin mats can be stored in the compressor room -- presumably the same holds true for the other Ward 18 rinks?

However, here's why I'm thinking somebody was joking when they told you the mats have already been stored: the on-site (rec) staff couldn't have stored the Dufferin mats in the compressor room because they have no access -- only the Local 416 folks are allowed in there. I was over there for a meeting with some of your manager colleagues today, and the Dufferin mats are still outside from the winter.

So could you ask the operations staff if they could put the mats into the compressor rooms of those three Ward 18 rinks? Then nobody has to think about them again until next rink season, and they'll all be in the right spot already. Less work.

March 17 2010, from Carol Cormier

I apologize for the mis information. I spoke with Sandy Straw who has made arrangements with parks operations staff to store the artificial ice rink mats at Dufferin Grove.

March 17 2010, to Carol Cormier, cc Andy Koropeski, Dave Hains, Kelvin Seow

I hope that you were able to pass the mats message to Sandy so that she can direct her staff to store the Wallace mats in the Wallace compressor room and the Campbell mats in the Campbell compressor room, in addition to putting away the mats at Dufferin. I'm guessing you've heard from Kelvin Seow as well.

It is not my responsibility, of course, to mix my fingers into this matter except that internal communication between rec and parks has been rather dysfunctional in Ward 18 for a few years. The mats (normally the responsibility of Parks staff) are one small piece of the evidence. Hopefully that is about to improve, so that I don't have to get involved as much.

March 17 2010, friom Carol Cormier (auto-reply)

Thank you for your e-mail. I am away from the office until Monday, April 19, 2010.

March 22 2010 to Andy Koropeski:

The question I sent you re the Ward 18 outdoor rinks off-season mats storage has not yet been settled. As you see in the e-mail below, Carol Cormier gave the okay to have mats stored in the turned-off compressor rooms, but she was misinformed in that she thought it had already been done by on-site staff at Dufferin Rink. As is very evident from the condition of the park, there are no current on-site Parks staff at Dufferin Grove, and since the rec staff have no access to the turned-off compressor room (forbidden by the supervisor), they can't put the mats in there.

Rec staff did gather up the mats at Wallace Rink and at Campbell Rink, but because they have no access to the turned-off compressor rooms there either, both lots are stored in day-camp program areas and that won't work for the summer.

I'm hoping that you are willing to direct your staff to store the mats in these ample compressor rooms, neatly stacked as they always were in the years before the current supervisor arrived. If there are no 416 staff left to do it, CELOS can chip in for the funds to pay rec staff to haul and stack. Some of the skate loan donations can go for that instead of for new skates -- it's worth it, not to lose more mats as in the past two years. But if the rec staff are to undertake that task, they'd need to have temporary access to the compressor room keys.

I'm hoping this can be worked out this week, there's always a bit of anxiety that some of the mats still left outside will "walk."

March 23 2010, from Andy Koropeski:

I will direct staff to store the mats safely and neatly in the compressor rooms.

March 24, 2010. From Jutta Mason to Andy Koropeski:

update -- 4 Parks staff plus a foreperson came to put away the mats at Dufferin Rink this morning. They did not coordinate with the on-site Rec staff (who are doing work bees to clean up program areas from winter/prepare them for spring). When it was pointed out that the mats are all wet and muddy after yesterday's rain, and that they need to be leaned up outside to dry for today and tomorrow, the Parks staff said they were too busy to take the mats back out. When they were asked if they could just let the Rec staff go into the compressor room and put the mats back out to dry, they said no, they're not allowed in there.

They also said they will not be moving the Wallace and Campbell mats into the compressor rooms, because the Health and Safety person said they're not allowed to be stored in there.

They said I should just e-mail about this, since "that's what you do all the time."

March 25 2010, from Andy Koropeski:

It is sad. I apologize for discourtesy toward you exhibited by our staff. I will be taking up these issues with Parks management to resolve the mat storage and to ingrain more appropriate manners to members of the public in the conduct of our duties.

March 25 2010, to Andy Koropeski

I appreciate your concern about discourtesy toward a member of the public (truly!), but we both know that it's because of my resistance to those divisions (public versus staff) that the Parks guys are bugged. Fair enough -- it's an anomaly.

The big sadness is that Parks workers so often don't see Rec workers as colleagues, and so much time is wasted that way. Men (local 416) versus women (Local 79) is another old stakeout. Struggling over turf instead of getting the job done. This is compounded by the ambivalence of Parks management in this case, both levels immediately below you.

April 12 2010, to Andy Koropeski:

This is a follow-up for the rink mats. I guess the seasonal crew are not back yet, since the park garbage is not cleared. But now, with two more days of clear sunshine, is the chance to fix the rink mats problem. If any Parks staff could take the muddy, damp mats out of the compressor room at Dufferin Rink Tuesday morning and spread them out nearby on the rink pad, then one side could dry in the daytime. Then on Wednesday the Rec staff could flip them over and by the early afternoon the Parks crew could return and stick them back in the compressor room, all dry. They also need to put the shinny nets and the green rink shovels into the compressor room, then it will be done for the season.

I hope that the other mats at Wallace and Campbell could be put away into those compressor rooms after the seasonal laborers return.

Can this happen?

April 18, 2010, to Andy Koropeski:

an update about Ward 18 rink mats, nets, metal shovels: After your most recent request to have the rink mats issue dealt with, the Ward 18 rink mats were laid out and washed by Parks workers, then turned (to dry) the next day by Rec workers, then put away by Parks workers. Good. However the Parks staff declined to store the three special ice-cleaning shovels or the four shinny hockey nets in the compressor room.

It happened that Dave Dermott came along to the park with the electrician the next day. When I saw Dave, I asked if he was willing to check out the space in the compressor room. He was. After some complex diplomacy he was agreeable to storing the shovels. But he said that if he allowed the shinny hockey nets too, Peter Leiss would be mad. Quite a bit of extra pleading was required -- not fun.

Then it came to the issue of storing the mats at Wallace and Campbell rinks, and their ice-cleaning shovels, in their respective compressor rooms instead of in the children's summer camp area. It emerged that the Parks foreperson prefers to wait until he gets the go-ahead from the recreation supervisor to do that. The recreation supervisor (Dave Hains) was previously told by Parks that the mats could not be stored in the compressor room. But on Friday Dave was still off on leave and could not be consulted.

Wallace mats and shovels not moved, April 21...
Wallace mats and shovels not moved, April 21

That last episode on Friday shows that this is an issue that (sigh) needs energetic follow-up on the grounds of administrative unfairness and wasteful practices. The nets are expensive and the shovels were custom-make by the city's metal shop years ago and are not replaceable. Nets, shovels, and mats need secure storage, which is completely available in the compressor rooms. >From the point of view of rink users, Parks staff are toying with us and demeaning our efforts. On-site Recreation rink staff clearly have no standing at all.

What I can't figure out is -- do they not have to listen to you?

April 22, 2010, from Andy Koropeski:

Further to your e-mail, arrangements have been made to have the mats and ancillary rink equipment (nets, shovels) secured and stored in the respective compressor rooms of the three rinks, to be taken out and ready to go next fall for the new season. This will be done in the next couple of days. This should resolve the problem. Thanks.

May 3, 2010, to Andy Koropeski

shovels still in BMX space at Wallace, May 3...
shovels still in BMX space at Wallace, May 3

I wish I had better news, but I had time today to follow up and here's the latest on the rink equipment at Campbell and Wallace rinks:

1. Wallace Rink mats were taken to Christie Pits last Wednesday, long metal shovels were left in the Wallace program room -- apparently your directive re mats and shovels was not followed because of health and safety.
2. Campbell rink mats are still in the main program room, I don't know where the shovels are.

1. At Wallace, park users told me that while they were putting the BMX equipment together last Wednesday they saw four trucks that pulled up, and after a long while they pulled out the mats and took them away.
2. There are further details relating to access restrictions affecting more than the rinks (requiring unnecessary staff time and wasting money) that I'll try to follow up through the regular channels.

Please let me know the sequel.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation Supervisor Dave Hains, May 3 2010

I'm told that you're the management member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee for this part of PFR. I was talking to Dufferin Grove staff about the rink-equipment storage situation.

Can you let me know how the decision was made, to restrict off-season access to the compressor rooms to only a very few city staff? I just found out today that even your on-site Wallace Local 416 caretakers can't have access, so that for example they can't turn the lights on if the BMX park users ask for light in the evening, and they can't let the BAS company in the room to do servicing, without calling off-site and making everyone stand around and wait for an hour.

I think this leads to a waste of money. Can you show me the health and safety documentation for the compressor room and swimming pool machinery-room restrictions? Let me know if I have to go through freedom of information -- thanks.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation Supervisor Dave Hains, May 3 2010

Just to make sure that I got the details right (when you called me today), I'm writing out my recollection of our conversation:

For the past two years Joanne Roy, Ward 18 aquatics staff, has been a member of the Toronto/EY WEST Joint Health and Safety Committee. She does not recall that the question of restricting access to the compressor rooms during the off-season was ever brought up. However, it's possible that there may be another Occupational Health and Safety committee that has only Local 416 Parks workers on it. They may have had the compressor rooms on their agenda. If I remember right, you told me you will ask.

If Parks regards compressor rooms as only their turf, that ought to be changed. As we've seen, it's now been 63 days since Wallace and Campbell rinks were closed for the season, and the mats and metal long shovels are still not stored properly. The rink equipment is (1) very important for programming, i,e. recreation and (2) it seems clear that Parks is not able to manage this task without the help of Recreation.

I would also like to assure myself that the long struggle to store the rink equipment at Dufferin Rink was not undone, since I noticed Peter Leiss going into the Dufferin Rink compressor room with four other official-looking people, one week ago (April 26) . Could you arrange for someone to open the door and show me that the mats and long shovels and shinny hockey nets are still in there?

Please let me know if you can make that happen sometime this week -- thanks. I've cc'd Costanza on this as well, since it seems a prime example of slippage in community engagement. I've been involved with the outdoor rinks for the past 17 years. Some things have improved, some have become even stranger.

From Jutta Mason to Dave Hains, May 5, 2010

Have you had any update on the rink mats, and whether Andy Koropeski's storage directive was not followed because of OHS? I've pasted in the relevant (I assume) passages into this e-mail, from the City's Confined Spaces Policy. Is that what's blocking the mats storage? I've highlighted (below) the written records I need to see -- can you let me know if I can see them directly or whether I will need to go through FOI? I'd like to submit the application tomorrow, if necessary.

Thank you


Joint Health and Safety Committees/Health and Safety Representatives will:

* Actively assist management through consultation, in the development of the confined space program and specific plans.

  • Assist management in a regular review of equipment status.
  • Make recommendations during the evaluation process of new confined space equipment prior to purchase.
  • Review this policy and relevant procedures annually and make recommendations for changes if necessary.
    * Conduct an annual audit of confined spaces within their area of responsibility.

Occupational Health and Safety Staff will:

* Assist in the evaluation of work operations as necessary, to determine the need for confined space entry programs.

  • Provide assistance in the development of confined space programs and plans.
  • Provide assistance in the development and delivery of confined space training.
    * Conduct periodic audits of the confined space entry program and plans, and recommend changes, as needed.
  • Provide assistance during the evaluation process of new confined space equipment prior to purchase.
  • Advise divisions and joint health and safety committees of any changes to the relevant legislation, standards and industry practices.
From Parks director Andy Koropeski to Jutta mason, May 6 2010

The mats, shovels and nets have been returned to the respective compressor rooms at Wallace Emerson and Campbell rinks, and remain at Dufferin Grove, for storage until next rink season.

From Jutta Mason to Parks director Andy Koropeski, May 6, 2010

Thanks Andy. I heard from Wallace staff that the 416 maintenance foreperson and the tech services supervisor came personally and carried the shovels into the compressor room. This whole odyssey has been expensive in terms of staff costs.

What still needs investigating is WHY the compressor rooms are restricted-entry in the off-season, and for whom. Can you let me see the documentation for that decision?

May I be shown the compressor rooms, especially Wallace, so that I can see for myself that the mats are there? After all these false alarms, a look is worth many e-mails. And I think the time I've spent on this so far, in the interest of more sensible storage arrangements, deserves that courtesy.

(:title Rink Mats:)