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Rink Clubhouse Bulletin Board

The pace of a rink visit is often a bit slower than the industrial tempo of many people’s lives, so there’s a bit of time to stare at the walls. To make that more interesting, the rink house bulletin boards will have postings about various park and neighbourhood issues. Here are some topics coming up:

posted December 10, 2006

The Foodshare Youth Teaching Garden

Foodshare, which for many years operated out of a warehouse on Eastern Avenue, has now moved in beside the Royal Conservatory of Music at the old Brockton High School on Croatia Street. Foodshare have always worked with youth in their food projects, and they want to put a 10 meter-by-fifteen-meter vegetable and flower garden into the southwest corner of the park, near the shortcut to the mall. It seemed like a nice show-and-tell display of non-standard vegetables, to be cared for through their youth projects, but some near neighbours of the park, who are also opponents of the bio-toilet, felt it was too much for the park.

Foodshare has a history of growing beautiful gardens, so this winter there will be a display showing what they do and why. Opponents of the project are welcome, even encouraged, to post their material too.

posted December 10, 2006

The Bio-toilet Project

This past summer and fall a small but hard-working group of bio-toilet opponents delivered house-to-house flyers that described the new playground toilet as a “cesspool” built with the help of “child labour.” The same folks also e-mailed their views to all of the City councillors and many heads of City divisions. The down side of that opposition was that the bio-toilet project was stalled over and over again. So only the foundation got built (but it’s a great foundation) before cold weather came.

The up side was that there was more and more detailed debate in the park about the merits/demerits of alternative ways to deal with sewage. Park users already know an amazing amount, and this winter they can upgrade their education even more. There will be displays about the project, press clippings from other parts of the world, and – hopefully – some postings by opponents, making for some lively hot-stove discussions.

Certainly there’s more material in the press now almost every week. It turns out that the largest Japanese zoo has had bio-toilets for some time (and very clean – the Japanese are famously fastidious). A town in Saskatchewan introduced the bio-ioilets and won a “2005 Sustainable Community Award” from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partners for Climate Protection Network. World Watch Institute’s latest newsletter praises them as “the ultimate in treating waste as a resource.” We thought we were pioneers, but evidently not.

Both of these displays are a preparation for a City-run all-neighbourhood meeting about these issues in February or March (just when everyone is getting tired of winter and wants to think about playgrounds and gardens).

posted November 10, 2006

The Gerstein short-term residential crisis centre at 1045 Bloor Street West

This centre is connected to the very successful Gerstein Centre at 100 Charles Street East. The proposed crisis centre on Bloor near Havelock will have individual rooms and 24-hour staffing, with programs and referrals for residents. The Centre staff held an open house at the Gladstone Library on Nov.30, and they are also available to answer questions about their plans at 416-929-0149: Paul Quinn, Executive Director ext. 222, Susan Davis, Coordinator of Community Partnerships ext. 235, or Pamela Rodgerson, Coordinator of Finance and Administration ext. 226. Or e-mail

Pamela Rodgerson lives in the neighbourhood and is a park friend, and she’s agreed to post more material about the plans at the rink house. She says one of their letters of support (which she’ll post) comes from the superintendent of police responsible for the area around Charles Street, praising the organization for their expertise in operating a mental health crisis service, their co-operativeness, and their successes.

Park staff are very happy that this centre is coming. They have made some frustrating attempts to find help for mentally ill park users over the years. One of these park users – an older man named Mimo, whom many longer-time park friends will recall, and who used to plug the men’s park toilet so regularly (God told him to do it) that the park washrooms had to stay closed for two seasons – finally went to the Gerstein Centre downtown and has now been long settled at an excellent nursing home in the Beaches. He has almost stopped plugging the toilets, apparently, and is regard with affection. The other story is not as nice. A young Chinese man, very ill with schizophrenia, lived in the park for several years and rejected all park staff attempts to give him food, blankets, etc. But they kept an eye on him. He was very skilful in living out of doors, until one late fall he began to get much sicker and seemed to be starving himself to death. The park staff tried for weeks to get him into hospital (a very hard thing to do if the person doesn’t agree). With the help of park friend Dr.Alan Abelsohn, who lives nearby, and two inspired Homeless Outreach workers from CODA, the man was finally taken into the Toronto Western Hospital for assessment.

But the hospital released this man after a few days and he came back to the park – this time in bedroom slippers. He sat in the park with his feet in the snow for a day before anyone realized what was happening. He had to have both his feet amputated.

If there is a close relationship with a nearby crisis centre, even just for good advice and connections, so that such a thing can never happen again, the park staff and park friends will be very happy. Find out more this winter on the rink house bulletin boards.

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