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The wood stoves at Dufferin Rink and Christie Rink

02-May-2011 [126]

The wood stoves at Dufferin Rink and Christie Rink

See the Ontario fire code

November 21, 2008

From: Jutta Mason
To: Don (FRE) Eastwood

I heard some very disturbing news today, while I was at a community/rec-staff meeting at Christie Rink, discussing the upcoming rink season.

It appears that a City staff person named Mark Taylor sent a message saying that there is an "unauthorized wood stove" at the rink, and it sounds (if I understood it right) like this gentleman is ordering the wood stove to be removed a.s.a.p.

The wood stove was installed with film money that Dufferin Grove got through Councillor Pantalone in 1998. We were already too crowded at Dufferin Rink then, and we worked out an agreement to give the money to Christie Pits, so they could get a wood stove like the one at Dufferin. The hope was that some of the Dufferin crowd would go and enjoy the hot stove league at Christie, and lessen the jam at Dufferin. Mario Zanetti supported the installation (who wouldn't?).

The Christie rink/pool area has had a lot of break-ins (some with keys -- hopefully this year the building may finally get a proper security system). There has been lots of damage during some of these break-ins, with vandalism including small fires, but this is not the fault of the wood stove, which is modern and safe and surrounded by a very nice security railing (paid for by the City).

A few of the most recent wave of city staff placed in charge of parks and facilities seem to be slightly lacking in a sense of history -- what would make them assume that what they see in the downtown areas is somehow "unauthorized"? Could you help broker a conversation here? (Or pass this e-mail along to the right people?)

November 25, 2008

From: Don (FRE) Eastwood wrote:
To: Jutta Mason

Mark's response is based on the actual Fire Code and therefore is probably correct in accordance to the code. My understanding is that Donna Densmore is pursuing the building permit for this installation. Once we get a copy of that for our file, we shouldn't have a problem.

In response to the councilors involvement; the councilor may have funded and endorsed the project, but these types of installations have to be in compliance with all applicable codes. Our understanding is that it is a contravention of the fire code due to the building occupancy type, not the actual stove installation. The procurement of the building permit from Donna will clear this issue up since it was approved through this process.

I have copied manager Gord Andrews and Supervisor Domenic Fantauzzi for their info and comments. They may have prior knowledge and or history of this installation.

Sorry for misunderstanding.

From: Jutta Mason
To: Don (FRE) Eastwood

I just got to this e-mail now, after I had already cc'd you on the other one to Tino. You and I and most people on this cc list know that there was much less bureaucracy in 1998, and that there is little or no chance that we'll find a building permit. No such requirement was in place in 1998 (unless you feel that both Mario Zanetti and Joe Pantalone violated the rules). Nor, as I understand it, does the City require older installations to comply with requirements that came later, except in the case of imminent danger, which everyone on this list knows is not the case here.

If city staff end up ripping out these much-loved wood stoves from both rinks -- and "ripping," of course, is an accurate description -- that would be an astonishing waste of our (citizens') assets. Even Mr.Taylor's initial approach -- if I didn't misunderstand what happened -- is very unfortunate. To start off with an instruction that is bound to upset people, before anything is carefully examined, is so damaging, to staff morale as well as to the trust of the citizens, whose assets civil servants are meant to protect.

It would be much better to start over. May I suggest that in any risk analysis, the BC government's "Enterprise Risk Management Guideline is a helpful tool to make careful, methodical, evidence-based decisions? This tool would require - a technical report about the source and cause of the smoke (including whether there a break-in, etc.); - the exact citation and a legal opinion about the Fire Code application; - site evaluation and ranking of what the dangers are (combustibility of concrete block buildings, etc.) - versus the damage of removal (e.g. destruction of an existing asset, reduction of enjoyment by rink users, loss of a direct heat source for hypothermic skaters, etc.).

Or you could just call everyone on this list, including me, together at Christie, for a conversation by the wood stove. The PFR division is a little shaky at the moment. Good sense and collegial encounters (including with your fellow citizens) couldn't come at a better time. And what a lot of everyone's time it would save!

From: Don (FRE) Eastwood
To: Jutta Mason
CC: Donna Densmore, Domenic Fantauzzi, Gord Andrews, Joe Steidl, Mark (Facilities) Taylor, Tino Decastro.

Just to clarify, our intention is not to "Rip out the stove". As well Marks approach was not intended to be insensitive or destructive to the staff morale or citizens. His true intent is to ensure compliance with respect to the fire code and the City facilities at which we provide this service on behalf of various divisions and departments within the City of Toronto. Also Marks initial e-mail was for Donna solely. If the information was broadcasted to other parties was beyond his control and not his intent.

In reference to the stove and the lack of building permit, I can have Mark confirm if the regulation was in place in 1998 and if this matter was just missed or if its a new regulation and the stove is "grand fathered in" since it was installed pre regulation. Mark, please comment on this issue.

Our direction for these buildings comes from Parks. We don't act unilaterally on issues normally and definitely not on sensitive issues such as this that have the potential to have a negative impact on the community.

To reiterate, Corporate Operations only provides a service to the Parks department. We can only advise and make recommendations based on code requirements and our technical expertise. To this end I would suggest that maybe you broker a meeting with the Parks senior staff to discuss viable options that would satisfy all parties and meet code regulation.

At this point in time I will be waiting for a directive from Gord Andrews or Domenic Fantauzzi on this issue.