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Community Notebooks: Trying to make the rinks better
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• The community responds
Here is our first letter to the city about the crisis, and quite a few emails that we received from friends and neighbours in response.
Here is our first letter to the city about the crisis, and quite a few emails that we received from friends and neighbours in response. Claire Tucker Reid, General Manager, Parks and Recreation City of Toronto
I have just been informed that Dufferin Rink will be shut down, probably tomorrow, if we continue with the mixed use that we now have. Two health and safety inspectors came and quite evidently found the whole scene we run, abominable. I called James Dann to come down and they gave him all the details. After 10 years of community-building at Dufferin Grove Park, it is a stunning experience for me to find that two gentleman can come and tell us that what our neighbourhood has built in this park is basically a giant heap of safety violations.
It is ironic and sad that as parks and recreation facilities all over the city, especially rinks, are crumbling before our eyes, one of the best outdoor rinks in the city would be closed. The Christmas holidays are set to begin. To have to face the end of our community dinners, the bread, the farmers' market, and much of what makes the rink work so well, will be a very serious blow for our neighbourhood.
The two health and safety inspectors who came today told me that it is a fallacy to think that parks belong to citizens: they belong to the corporate entity called Toronto. I hope that not everyone in city government feels this way. Please let us know where you stand.
I have participated in Shinny Hockey. Night of Dread and Harvest show on stilts and have enjoyed the benefits of your community. From the kitchen, market and the park itself. I can't believe that a pair of inspectors can have such power to ruin such a creative and interesting community. I would like to see the great tradition continue of bringing so many different kinds of people and events to an urban park that is at risk of being ignored and destroyed because of some rules that cannot be creatively altered or changed to recognize Dufferin Grove's charm and draw.
Don't punish the shinny players for not playing with helmets. I was at the Edmonton heritage game and the great one did not have inspectors shutting down the game because he didn't wear one.
I'm writing to add my voice to those protesting the confusion around the Dufferin Grove Park.
Here's how the situation appears to me: someone is under the impression that if the park is allowed to continue to build community and serve the needs of as many people as possible, someone, somewhere may sue. The juxtaposition of food, fun, education, and sports so close together could lead to someone getting hurt or eating something unsafe. I'm guessing, here, but I'm probably not far off the mark.
This reminds me of when my children were born, and I was instructed by all the experts to "child proof" my home. After 4 years of attempting to do so for 2 children, I learned the attempt was futile, and a waste of energy better spent actually caring for them. If you remove or pad every corner of your home and eliminate all furniture, placing your child in a bare padded room, they can still trip and put an eye out with their own thumb. Should I then have my children's thumbs padded? If I were to thoroughly child proof my children, they would be liable to become cases of Children's Aid, and I charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.
Dufferin Grove Park feels like a home to me. There's been some child proofing done, and there's been some leeway given because this park grew from the needs of the community it serves. I go there on the bus from Bathurst and St.Clair to enjoy the farmer's market and take my kids skating and to be awed by the Clay and Paper geniuses. This park is a shining gem in the city of Toronto, entity or parent or corporate party pooper. I tell people I meet on the Streetcar about the dinners at Dufferin Grove. What should be done about it? It should be studied and treasured and emulated city wide, of course.
In closing, I'd like to relate an incident that happened last year at the Wychwood Carbarns Park, a fledgling baby park up in my area. Some volunteers were getting up every morning at 5am and going again at 8pm every day for a month to flood a rink for local kids to skate on. When the ice was really beautiful, and kids began to discover this fabulous thing and turn up in droves to skate there, the City Of Toronto's Real Estate Department sent salting trucks over to dump 80 or 100 lbs of salt on the rink. Twice in two days. Seems they'd got wind of the ice being slippery, and were worried someone might slip and hurt themselves.
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