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Parks and Recreation costs are not tracked by individual location. The following numbers came from questioning various managers about specific activities we know are carried out at Dufferin Grove Park regularly. The managers gave us information about job structuring, hours, wage rates and benefit costs, which were calculated as realistically as possible. Some of the expenses were one-time for this past year, but we feel they are probably equivalent to one-time expenses that may occur in other years.


  • Building maintenance: $10,363.35
  • Public washroom maintenance: $3435.60
  • Playground maintenance: $1394.81
  • Park furniture maintenance (benches and tables): $3179
  • Fountain repair: $1304.42
  • Garbage and litter: $4946.11
  • Lawn and leaves, maintenance: $12,593.66
  • Tree pruning: $8,832.40
  • Sports areas maintenance: $3433
  • Snow clearing (mainly sidewalks): $4,349.44
  • Artificial ice rink expenditures: $70,309.70
  • Recreation (program) staff, spring, summer, fall: $46,120
  • Special expenses: $4380.14


-*Please note that this is not a precise number but it probably makes sense, give or take $20,000. (Most likely upward.) For more details, see Appendix 1.

Quick summary:
Park maintenance costs: $53,480.59
Ice rink without program (recreation) staff: $52,326.90
Program staff, all seasons: $64,454
Special expenses: $4380.14

Comment: It’s puzzling to note that an expenditure close to $200,000 a year buys only 1 hour a week of litter-picking, uncertain snow clearing from the rink, the recurrent threat of a shortened rink season, and no parks-operated flower planting. On the other hand, we have a good supply of picnic tables and benches in fair-to-good condition, a soccer field and a playground in reasonable condition, and 7-days-a-week recreation staffing during the peak park seasons (summer, winter). The wage disparity remains large, with the park litter-picker staff earning almost twice as much as the head program staff (taking benefits into account). Also, the job descriptions are in some cases very narrow, meaning that certain necessary tasks fall between the cracks. (See below)


Who’s in charge: Rink house and field house building upkeep come under the jurisdiction of the City Property Department. That means that standard maintenance and any repairs are the responsibility of Property supervisor Don Eastwood.
Workers: Mainly trades (electricians, painters, carpenters, plumbers). Union: specific trade-linked unions (electrical, carpenter, etc.)
Cost of regular building maintenance in our park: $989.12 in 2000 and $1,337.35 in 2001.
Cost of rink house repairs: $5,896 in extra repairs in 2001, which Don says is about standard for a public building of that size, that gets used so much and contains a lot of vibrating machinery.
Cost of field house repairs: Painting last year: $1600 in labour (a city painter earns $27.35 an hour, plus 36% in benefits) , plus $140 for the truck. The city buys paint in such quantity that Don didn’t know the separate cost for our field house paint, but he said it’s peanuts compared to labour costs.
Mimo repairs: Mimo the homeless man hears voices telling him to plug the toilets so tightly with his cardboard pieces that the plumber usually has to unbolt the whole toilet to fix it. Cost: $850 last summer: $160 to $190 each time to bring in a plumber (a city plumber earns $30.26 an hour, plus 38% benefits) to come and fix the toilet.
Graffiti: Example: recently a large “tag” was painted across the west side of the field house. The labour, vehicle, and materials to remove this paint cost $180. Graffiti removal is necessary 2-5 times a year.

Park washroom servicing (field house): This job is done by the parks maintenance staff, (supervisor, Mike Hindle). For a 26 week season, the cost to clean and stock the washrooms is: truck $304.20, supplies $350.00, labour $2781.40 ( includes a special two-staff visit to lock washrooms at night). There is no separate crew or budget to clean the rink house/ clubhouse washrooms; it’s mainly done by the park coordinator.


Who’s in charge: Day-to-day maintenance: Mike Hindle, supervisor, works out of High Park Service Yard. Has a crew made up of laborers, truck drivers, and forepersons.
Damage repair: Technical Services. Bill Gaudet supervises the laborer repair crew, and Dominic Fantauzzi supervises the trades (for instance, if a painter is needed, or a carpenter). Both Gaudet and Fantauzzi work out of the Booth Avenue Yard, near Jones and Queen Street.
Workers: Laborers are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), local 416, and the trades are each in their own trades union (electrical, plumbers’, carpenters’, etc.).
Repairs: carried out as problems are reported, but there is no staff person whose specific job it is to find the problems. That’s why a bench or a picnic table near the playground may be damaged for a long time without being repaired. There is one exception: the city employs a playground inspector, who goes around to all the parks and evaluates the safety of play equipment and whether it meets new playground standards. If he finds damage he will report it for repair.
Cost of repairs: The Parks department can’t tell us how much our park costs for maintenance or repairs: they don’t track sites separately. But they can help us guess. For example:
Rain shelter bench repair: $462.25. When the rain shelter storage benches were built, the design called for very heavy hinged lids on the benches. After a few months of use, the lids began to break off their hinges. Also the lids closed with such a heavy bang that recreation staff feared people would have their hands crushed if a lid dropped when they were getting something from inside the storage bench. The repair crew had to replace the lids with lighter ones. Carpenter wages: $407.25. (City carpenters earn $28.79 an hour plus 50% benefits). Truck cost: $55. The cost of materials is unknown. Work done by Technical Services, Bill Gaudet, supervisor.
Graffiti repair: example: $297.56 for painters, when some giant graffiti appeared all over the wading pool storage shed in the fall. Cost of the paint is unknown.
Wading pool: $240 - $700 for labour if the asphalt seams on the wading pool have to be redone, that may take between 8 and 20 hours, depending on the damage. A senior laborer (most of Bill Gaudet’s staff) earns $18.09 per hour plus 36% benefits.
Drinking fountain: $5,500 if we need a new drinking fountain beside the wading pool. Last year it was not usable until the wading pool was open (because there was then so much water flushing all the pipes). A new drinking fountain would need a new water line put in from the main water line on Havelock Street.
Boundary fence: $0. The wooden fence separating the houses from the playground is starting to fall over in several spots. Since there’s no law requiring the city to fence the boundary line of parks, the city doesn’t have to fix the fence when it gets old. If homeowners want to keep kids out of their yards, the city will split the cost of a standard chain-link fence with the property owner, or the owner can have another kind of fence built and the city will contribute the amount it would have cost to put in half of a chain link fence. It then becomes the property owner’s responsibility to maintain that fence.
Internal fences: Iron fences and chain link: Technical Services, Dominic Fantauzzi, supervisor. Iron fences cost $60 a section to replace, plus the labour costs. But the fences don’t break often. The chain link fences cost $65 a foot. Those around the ice rink have not needed replacing since they were installed in 1993, except for one of the gates, which was taken down several times by the zamboni driver. The cedar rail fences are repaired by maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor. They cost $9 per rail. About 15 rails a year need replacement when they break (usually because of vandalism).


Who’s in charge: It is no-one’s specific job to monitor their condition. But if a park user or a grass cutter happens to notice broken slats or nails sticking out, they may be repaired by the maintenance workers (bench slats, protruding nails, leaning benches) or the technical services staff (painting, picnic table repair).
Basic repairs: $3179 for five days a year of trouble-shooting in our park by the maintenance crew (Mike Hindle, supervisor). That includes bench repair and other odds and ends. The cost covers one foreman ($1,182) and 2 labourers ($1,997).
New benches and picnic tables: $0. Supervisor Dominic Fantauzzi warned that no new picnic tables or benches are being ordered at the moment. He spent $36,000 across the old city of Toronto last year, repairing picnic tables. But as the tables and benches age and rot and crumble, they may not be repaired. He said that park furniture damage needs to be reported and fixed fast, before the whole bench or table are too damaged to save. The city permits citizens to sponsor the purchase and installation of a park bench on a concrete pad and have a plaque commemorating a person or event. Cost of a park bench with cast iron ends and hardwood slats: $2,140. Really.


Who’s in charge: Maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor.
COST: $0. Although there are still three Parks Department shrub beds, there is no gardening budget for Dufferin Grove Park. The last Parks Department flower bed was taken out in 1992. The community gardens that have been put in by neighbourhood gardeners get the following help from the city: a yearly supply of leaf compost and sometimes some manure from High Park Zoo, and 29 flats of annuals from the High Park greenhouse in spring. All planting, weeding, and watering is done by neighbourhood gardeners. Picking up garden waste is contentious: city workers sometimes do it. They do not pick litter from any community garden area that is fenced, and not usually from the unfenced gardens either.
Marsh fountain repair cost: The original fountain pump (paid for by a Canada Trust grant) wore out after three years, running 8 months a year. The new pump cost $375, installation cost $929.42 in labour. Work done by Technical Services, Dominic Fantauzzi, supervisor'''.


Who’s in charge: maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor. Cutting and maintaining grass: $8,368.32. This requires one foreperson (who earns $21.44 plus 36% benefits/ hour), one truck driver to drive the large mower (s/he earns $18.93 plus 38% benefits/ hour) and two labourers. Ten cuts a year.
Leaf clean-up in the fall: $4,225.34. One foreperson plus one truck driver plus two labourers (five days every fall).


Who’s in charge: Forestry, Regina Gudelis, supervisor.
Planting: there is no allocated budget for tree planting at specific parks.
Pruning and cutting, cost for two weeks: $8,832.40 (low estimate) or $13,924.40 (high estimate). There’s some confusion because Forestry doesn’t track specific sites. Tree pruning and cutting of rotten trees is done as needed (e.g. when a branch or a tree comes down or looks rotten). At irregular intervals more pruning and cutting are done. Last summer, two pruners (they earn $20.22/ hour plus 38% benefits) and their foreman (who earns $22.37/ hour plus 38% benefits) spent about 2 weeks in the park pruning. In addition to the labour, the use of the lift truck is priced at $1,434.40 for two weeks and the chipper cost $368.


Who’s in charge: Maintenance (Mike Hindle, supervisor) for commissioning the work, and Technical Services (Bill Gaudet), for doing the job.
COST: $0. There is no budget for walkways. That is why two of the three main park walkways are rutted dirt paths for part or all of their length.
Cost of last walkway paved: $3,300. City Councillor Mario Silva was able to arrange for park staff to use up an existing store of interlock bricks (so cost was only for labour, materials were free) at the southwest end of the park , in 1999.
Cost of other paved walkways in our park: No one can remember, it was too long ago. There are some older interlock walkways as well as short pieces of asphalt paths, which have held up well. But the main north-south public walkway connecting the two ends of Gladstone is entirely dirt. The diagonal walkway connecting lower Havelock to the Dufferin Mall main entrance is rutted dirt east of the Gladstone walkway. West of there, it is paved partly with asphalt, partly with interlock. The north walkway connecting the two sections of Dufferin Park Avenue is asphalt, with one section narrowing from erosion. North, east and south parkway entrances are particularly rutted and eroded, making it difficult or impossible for park users with wheelchairs or strollers to get into and around the park in winter, early spring, or at rainy times in other seasons. West entry points are paved.

In 2002, the total allocation for “hard surfaces preservation” for the South District (the whole of the former city of Toronto and East York Parks) is $37,500. That covers walkway improvements, tennis court resurfacings, and sidewalk repairs (except for jobs over $50,000, which come as separate items under the capital budget). By the end of March, the 12 park supervisors in this region had submitted a list of “urgent” requests for “hard surfaces” funding, totaling over $365,000. Our park’s paths are not on this list (and it would make no difference if they were, obviously). For the record, it would cost $14,700 to pave the main walkway, connecting Gladstone north and south (700 feet long, 6 feet wide, asphalt), $7,720 for the diagonal walkway from Havelock to the park mid-point where the paving starts (320 feet long, 6 feet wide, asphalt). Comparisons: concrete paving costs $7 a square foot, interlock paving costs $9 a square foot, and asphalt paving costs $3.50 a square foot.


Who’s in charge: maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor.
Cost of garbage pick-up: $3,494.57 a year. Garbage bags (from the garbage baskets) are picked up twice a week. It takes a truck driver and a labourer half an hour each time: $2,662.57 per year for labour plus $832 for the truck.
Cost of litter-picking: $1451.54 a year. This pays for litter-picking for one hour a week. The person who mainly picks up the litter is actually classified as a heavy equipment operator, so he earns $20.22 an hour plus 38% benefits, equals $27.90 an hour. Since one hour a week is not enough for a park as busy as ours, recreation workers also pick up litter, earning between $7.55 and (rarely) $12.94 an hour, plus 15% benefits.


Who’s in charge: maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor, for sod; technical services, supervisor, Dominic Fantauzzi, for repairs/monitoring involving the trades.
Soccer field, cost of repairs: $??? The soccer field was partly re-sodded and the baseball back-stop was reduced in size last year (the reduction cost $500 in labour). New soccer goal posts were installed. Other than the baseball diamond, the cost of these improvements is unknown.
Soccer irrigation system, cost: $333 per year. There is an irrigation system buried just under the soccer field, which works well and requires little repair. The watering schedule is set according to the weather, as monitored by a computerized weather station on the roof of the main Parks Service Yard. The computer adjusts watering schedules on the basis of amount of rainfall, amount of wind which would dry out the soil, and the air temperature. The computer also detects leaks and shuts down that irrigation section until it can be repaired.
Basketball court improvements and repair: $2600 for a new backstop for the south side last year, to keep the ball from rolling down the hill all the time. (The fence measures 40 feet and it costs $65 a foot (ten feet high).) $300 for the machine/plus operator to rough up the concrete when it gets too slippery and the players wipe out. Contracted out.


Oven door replacement: $910. The smaller outdoor park oven had a defective oven door. The city welder came and removed that door, and made a new one, which he also installed. The door measures 21 inches by 16 inches. Materials cost $65, welder plus assistant plus use of welding truck cost another $845 (16 hours of welder plus 8 hours of assistant). Really. Technical services.
Christmas tree light installation: $1470.14. The light strings are paid for by Councillor Silva’s office. Installation, involving two park staff for two days (including an electrician) costs $1,183.26, plus $286.88 for the use of the lift truck. Technical services.
New park signs: $2000. The Parks and Recreation events and programs handbook, called the “Toronto Fun Guide,” contains a vision statement developed at the top level of Parks and Recreation after amalgamation: “Toronto will be known by the world as the ‘City within a park’…..The world will envy and seek to emulate the healthy, productive and balanced lives the people of Toronto have achieved.”

To promote this vision statement, the Parks Department removed existing Dufferin Grove Park signs (less than 10 years old and in good shape) and replaced them with new “City within a Park” signs. The cost was $750 per sign and $250 for labour to install it. We got two.


Who’s in charge: Staffing of the rink: Recreation, Tino DeCastro, supervisor. Ice maintenance: Parks, Brian Green, supervisor (this year – there has been a different supervisor every year for some time now). Operation of the rink compressors: Technical Services, Dave Dermott, supervisor.

Power to run the rink: $12,000 to $15,000 a season in a cold winter, $18,000 to $20,000 a season in a warm winter.
Olympia ice resurfacing machine, cost of servicing our machine in 2001: $7,745.44 (labour, parts, and contracting services). This does not include a depreciation allowance, which would set aside $6,100 annually into an account allowing the city to buy a new machine every 10 years (cost of new machine: $61,000). Since our Olympias are inevitably aging cast-offs that are no longer wanted at City Hall or North York, we suspect the cost of servicing may be increased over that of looking after newer machines.
Rink operator, cost: $22,556.26 per season. Although the most we would use a rink operator is 3 hours per afternoon shift (plus one hour in the morning shift), we were again assigned a full-time operator this past winter. During his two days a week off, we were assigned another 20 hours (union contract), so that we ended up with a rink operator for 60 hours a week, when we were only using him a maximum of 21 hours a week (often less). The pay rate is $20.19/ hour plus 33% benefits, for 14 weeks a year counting their training time.
Rink foreperson, cost: $4674 per season, for our share. Twice-daily visits. At our rink, the foreman often cleaned our ice in mid-morning, so we had an extra benefit from his visits. (Other rinks did not get this service.)
Rink repairs, cost: The cost of seasonal repairs to lift gates, swing gates, and hockey boards is unknown.
Rink recreation staff, cost (supervisor: Tino DeCastro): $18,334 per season. 8 part-time staff (one person from 9-3, then two or occasionally three, in the evenings and on weekend shifts). The breakdown is: the person in charge of the building earns $9.27/ hour and the person assisting (e.g. the rink guards) earns $7.55. The benefits for recreation workers amount to 15%. (* Compare e.g. to litter-picking, $20.22 plus 38% benefits.)

So the rink operator, working three hours and being paid for 8, costs the city more than all the other on-site rink staff put together. In addition, if the cost of four daily idle hours were subtracted, the city would save $11,278.13 a season, at our rink – enough to return the rink season to its traditional length (third week of November to the end of February, perhaps even adding on a reduced service in the first half of a cold March). We think the time for one rink operator to be shared between two rinks is long overdue.


Who’s in charge: Parks maintenance, Mike Hindle, Supervisor.
Rink snow clearing, cost: $351.20. This past year, there were four visits to the rink to clear snow, costing $223.20 in labour plus $128 for the use of the snow plow.
Sidewalk snow clearing, checking, salting: cost: $3998.24. The clearing of the park perimeter sidewalks during four snow falls, requiring one foreperson plus two labourers, working 16 hours: $1272.24. Two labourers doing daily 20-minute checks for ice on the park perimeter sidewalks, for 100 days: $2726.05.


Who’s in charge: Recreation, Tino DeCastro, Supervisor.
Cost of spring, summer, fall program activities and community support: $46,120 (rate from $7.55/ hour to $12.94/ hour, plus 15% benefits. Highest recreation wage: $15.91/ hour -- very rare). Only casual or part-time staff, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, (CUPE), Local 79.

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