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November 2008

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 9, Nr.11, November 2008

Bishop Marrocco High School students help the park

For an independent community email list service and discussion group, see dufferingrovefriends


Saturday November 8: Bishop Marrocco Catholic High School Park Gardening Day

Students from Bishop Marrocco (at the corner of Bloor and Dundas) will be returning to Dufferin Grove Park to help out with playground maintenance and gardening on the morning of November 8. Last time (October 18) they helped out a lot in the playground. They shovelled the sand back into the little kids’ almost-empty sandbox and dug up the earth under the climbers so that any kid who fell would land on soft ground. They raked out the big sandpit and tidied the toys. Then they planted daffodil bulbs (donated to the park by Green Here) in the cob garden. Their teacher, Steve De Quintal, recently transferred to Bishop Marrocco from St. Mary’s Catholic High School, located at the north edge of the park.

St.Mary’s students also come and help with the gardens (their Environment Club, run by science teacher Christine Walters, even grew its own park vegetable garden this year). Recreation staff Anna Bekerman works with all the students, and says the newcomer students have so many interesting stories to tell about the countries they came from.

Thursday November 13, 6 - 7 p.m. World Town Planning Day campfire and meeting

Urban planning students Katherine Sparkes and Eldon Theodore have set up a park campfire meeting for planners, to discuss how Dufferin Grove Park evolved into a park where people can often meet around food. Other park users interested in the topic are welcome to drop in to the campfire and contribute. Do you think the park has too much going on in it? Let the urban planners hear your views.

Saturday November 29 – Opening Day at Dufferin Rink, 9 a.m.

From the end of October on, there are frequent knocks at the door of Dufferin Rink clubhouse – kids are asking “when does the rink open?” They can’t wait. Occasionally the rink has opened a day early because the ice formed faster than expected. Even before most kids had their own cell phones, by some magic of telepathy it seemed that the ice had a shinny hockey game on it ten minutes after it opened – the joy of skating!

The first week is often very crowded because Dufferin Rink opens a week before the rest. For rink users who are frustrated by the first-week crowds, don’t forget that Harbourfront Rink opens November 15 and City Hall opens November 22 – so there are other places to skate outdoors if you’re eager to begin sooner. When the days are this short and the sun is so low and weak, compressor-cooled outdoor rinks can have good ice up to 15 degrees centigrade, especially if the sun isn’t shining.

The other city rinks will open on December 6. Dufferin Rink staff are also helping to run Wallace, Campbell, and Christie rinks this year – see the newsletter centerfold for more rink information, or go to


click on the image to enlarge it

At the end of September the Toronto Star published a small article about bake ovens in Toronto parks. The article mentioned the efforts of a group in an Etobicoke low-cost housing area to get an oven in Bell Manor Park. The reporter also quoted Parks supervisor Peter Leiss: He said the city must balance pollution, public safety and health concerns before allowing more bread ovens. "And one burned down this year at Christie Pits." In fact, though, the Christie Pits oven did not burn down. It had vandalism to its roof, which has now been repaired. There was no damage to the oven, which was much used for summer-camp pizza events. This fall, the energetic “Friends of Christie Pits” group worked with the Bob Abate Community Centre recreation staff to put on very lively family pizza suppers at the Christie oven every Friday.

The Star article reflects a very pessimistic attitude toward bake ovens by some city Parks staff. This is of concern, since it appears that these same Parks staff have recently been meeting to develop a bake-oven policy, without seeking input from either the recreation staff who do the actual oven programming, or the community people who use those programs. On November 3, when Councillor Adam Giambrone learned of the closed-door bake-oven policy meetings, he wrote a very positive letter of support to Councillor Paula Fletcher, chair of the Parks Committee. “As you know, in parks where these bake-ovens do exist, they have become a much-loved community asset. They provide the opportunity for many fun and educational events in our parks involving fresh, healthy food. They are also often an important component of successful farmers’ markets in our parks.”

The park bake-ovens are “masonry ovens,” meaning they use wood heat very efficiently and are actually quite good on the Kyoto-points scale. Wood, of course, is one of the most renewable energy sources, and the carbon released by burning wood in a masonry oven is apparently no greater than the carbon released when trees fall and degrade naturally at the end of their life cycle. (For articles on this, go to, click on “bake ovens and food” and then “media.”)

There are oven enthusiasts in other parts of the city, who either run a park oven already or intend to raise funds to build one. The Etobicoke group have set up the first-ever citywide community bake-oven meeting for the middle of November. It will be held at The Stop Community Food Centre, which has had its own outdoor bake oven for five years and is adding another community oven at the Green Barns next year, for the Green Barns Farmers’ Market. Time to talk about how to keep the bread baking in the parks (and the vegetables roasting, and the pizza sizzling, and the tomatoes drying, etc.)


Dufferin Grove’s recreation staff book the cooking fire times. They also give fire safety training and are available to help start/end your fire. You can reach them at 416-392-0913 or email



Ice-making begins on Nov.25. Wallace Rink and Campbell Rink, opening on Dec.6, will once again be our “sister” rinks, with shared staffing. Dufferin Rink staff will also be helping to run Christie Rink this year.

DUFFERIN RINK SCHEDULE: seven days a week The schedule for both shinny hockey and pleasure skating is mostly unchanged. The rink is open seven days a week including Christmas and New Year’s, from 9 a.m. until 9 pm. After 9pm there are permits or special programs on the shinny hockey side. The pleasure-skating side is unsupervised but open, meaning that it usually has a shinny hockey game with boots or backpacks as the goal markers. On Sundays there is only pleasure-skating, on both rink pads, until 5 pm, then programs begin on the shinny side.

The zamboni café will have tasty, nutritious food as before, with lots of soups, park oven bread, Sosnicki’s perogies from the farmers’ market, park cookies, hot chocolate, and so on. On weekends there will be more food but no sit-down suppers on Friday nights – too crowded.

As always, there will be a large collection of children’s books for taking a story break beside the woodstove. For mothers with babies who need to find a quiet spot when the rink gets too busy and noisy, there is a special chair in the corner of the women’s washroom, also supplied with some kids’ books for the baby’s little brother or sister. And there will always be mini-pizzas and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.


Wednesday November 5 was a historic day: rink staff Dan Watson drove to Kingston to pick up – finally! – a brand new skate-sharpening machine. The park snack bar earned enough “cookie money” this year, that the rink could finally afford it. This season there will be no public skate-sharpening available – the machine is a manual sharpener and rink staff Dan Watson and Michael Monastyrskyj will be learning the art, practicing on the rental skates only. As they hone their skill, the rental skates should be consistently sharper than in previous years.

The rental fees remain the same: $2 to rent skates, $2 to rent a stick, $2 to rent gloves, and helmets are lent out for free. Thanks again to the NHL Players’ Association, for their wonderful gift of 50 pairs of skates, plus sticks, helmets and gloves, in 2004. That started us off, and having skates to rent out cheaply made it possible for so many more people to join the fun at the rink. Tibetan, Cuban, and Brazilian newcomers have been the most enthusiastic late starters for learning to skate. Whole families come down to the rink, and they all – sometimes including the grandparents – put on rental skates and helmets and slide around the ice.


The NHL Players’ Association has come through again: they have donated fifty pairs of brand new skates, sticks, and gloves to Wallace Rink, to augment the supplies the rink staff scraped together last year. This means that Wallace Rink will have a very well-equipped rental program this year, in addition to their weekly campfires and snack program.


Last March, after the rink closed for the season and the ice melted away, the Wallace BMX bike course was set up again. One night at the end of March, a fire broke out, burning two of the bike platforms. The Parks staff were concerned that the heat of the fire might have gone into the concrete and damaged the PVC brine pipes underneath. But Chris Gallop from Councillor Giambrone’s office checked into it, and sent back good news. "I'm told that at first there was an estimated 200 litres of missing fluid from the pipes (Glycol) and an assumption was made that there might have been a leak in the system. However, that quantity of fluid has since been found hiding in the compressor. Technical Services staff have been putting the system through its warm up checklist and at this point everything appears to be working fine.”


There will be no skating classes at Dufferin Rink this year. Instead, Dufferin rink staff will offer (free) organized “beginner skater” games on Saturday mornings. As well, on two early weekday evenings and on Sundays, rink attendants will be available on the ice to give help to kids and adults who are practicing their skating. There is no charge for this help – that’s what rink staff are there for.

As always, learners can borrow chairs for support, and very little kids can have help from their parents, even if the parents are wearing shoes.


Last rink season, Dan Watson’s beginner shinny sessions for adults were often packed. So this year Dan will add another session to accommodate the overflow. So far it looks like:
Sundays 9.30 to 11 pm at Dufferin Rink will be a free, supervised, drop-in shinny hockey time (no drills, just playing time). Level One Beginners only, please.
Tuesdays from 9 to 10.30 pm at Christie Pits Rink will be Level Two Beginners Shinny hockey time (including drills and a game, free, but registration needed)
Wednesdays from 10 to 11 pm at Dufferin Rink will be Level One Beginners shinny hockey time (including drills and a game, free, but registration needed),
Thursday evenings (time t.b.a.) at Wallace Rink, free drop-in Level One and Level Two Beginners shinny hockey (no registration, no drills) For more information, contact


Rink staff have been concerned for some time that the youth who play shinny hockey at outdoor rinks are dwindling in numbers at many city rinks. The rinks that focus on strict helmet rule enforcement for shinny hockey (i.e. not Dufferin Rink) seem to be losing skaters, who may be opting to stay at home and be couch potatoes instead. But city management have said they are worried about liability risk to the City, if they don’t bar skaters from playing shinny without a helmet.

City staff say they’re unsure about the actual number of claims against the city as a result of rink injuries. So CELOS applied to the City’s Corporate Access and Privacy office (freedom of information) to track down that number. The response was very reassuring. The City’s Risk Management Section has records of only two ice-rink injury claims, and neither of them happened during shinny hockey. Both injuries were during a full-equipment, full-contact hockey game in arenas. One player got a broken leg as the result of a body-check in 2004, the other got an on-ice beating during an MTHL game in 1999, resulting in a broken nose. The broken leg claim seems not to have been settled yet, The on-ice beating victim asked for $1.1 million but settled for $12,000 (grounds for the lawsuit was that the referees didn’t intervene until very late).

In CELOS’ search for ice rink injury hospital data, two more relevant things turned up:

(1) after mandatory helmets were introduced for full-contact hockey programs, head injuries went down for some years. Then, in the past half dozen years, head injury rates began to climb steadily again, despite the helmets, and spinal cord injuries have also increased. Body-checking seems to be the main occasion when serious harm is done. Sports medicine doctors conjecture that as hockey players add more body armour, they feel more invincible.

(2) Canadian hospitals injury data show a lot of “falls-on-ice” injuries. But it turns out that most of the falls are not on rinks, they’re on sidewalk ice. Winter is a slippery time! (For more details about sports injuries and hospital data, go to the media link on the website.)

Shinny hockey is a different game than full-equipment, full-contact hockey. In shinny hockey there is no checking, and no slapshots. It appears that there have never been any shinny hockey injury claims against the City. If mandatory helmet rules are causing many youths to stop playing drop-in shinny hockey at the rinks, the harm done to physical fitness may be greater than the good in protecting against the risk of concussions. CELOS will continue to urge City management and Councillors to attend to this problem. For updates, see


After three weeks of no work done on the wading pool, the construction crew worked eight days in the two weeks that followed. They laid new stone pavers, did half the plumbing, and put in three new asphalt paths. Cyclists are enjoying the new paths very much. For step-by-step pictures of the construction project (including of many nice photos of Big Trucks), go to, click on “playground,” click on “wading pool.”


Courts follow-up from Michael Monastyrskyj: Liam Campbell, accused of multiple offenses including setting fires in garages and on construction sites near this neighbourhood over a year ago, appeared in court again on Monday November 3, on an earlier charge of assault with a weapon. “When Campbell is brought in, he is neatly dressed in a brown corduroy blazer. He smiles warmly to a young well-dressed black woman and to an older black couple who are with the woman. Campbell's lawyer, Lydia Riva, is present. [The crown] says he has decided "there is no reasonable prospect of conviction." He says the complainant is a transient and while his whereabouts are known, the Crown doesn't think a conviction is possible. He says "The Crown is exercising its discretion to withdraw the charges." Campbell has been in jail since April 8, but the arson charges seem to be still a long way from coming to trial.


Councillor Adam Giambrone was notified last summer that Dufferin Grove playground is on the list to be replaced in 2009. The main reason given for removing the current structures is possible liability claims due to lack of compliance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) playground standards.

This raises many questions, including the whole story of all the playgrounds that were destroyed in Toronto schoolyards, again because of CSA standards, eight years ago. CELOS recently discovered, through Freedom of Information, that since amalgamation, there were only ten playground injury claims against the city. Eight of those were due to broken links in swing chains, protruding bolts, and other maintenance issues. None were attributed to the failure to comply with CSA standards. Court records across Canada show no instance in which a case was won on the basis of the CSA standards. Search of court records in any case turned up very few playground injury-claims – such claims are rare. And there is a growing backlash against the effect of the “risk police” on children’s play, both in North America and Europe. To read more, go to (research/ parks playgrounds).

The other issue that CELOS has been following is the distribution of capital budget funds throughout the city. One of our befriended “sister parks,” R.V.Burgess Park in Thorncliffe Park (East York), is surrounded by a huge newcomer population (mainly from Pakistan), with many young children. The park has very sparse play equipment, some of it broken.

Mothers have joined a group to canvass their neighbours about what kinds of improvements they want for their park. Play equipment is at the top of the list. But the women have been told they would have to raise a lot of the money themselves, since that park is not scheduled for playground improvement until between 2013 and 2017! CELOS will try to find out why Dufferin Grove playground is so much ahead, in the replacement schedule, compared to a playground that is much worse off.


Market manager Anne Freeman was able to talk well-known photographer (and long-time park friend) Laura Berman into putting together a Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market calendar in time for Christmas. Laura has been going out to the different farms to take pictures. So if you want to enjoy photos of where your food comes from, all year long, you can buy a market calendar.

One of the helpers at the Plan B farmers’ market stand, Lisa Logan, is again putting together a holiday craft fair, with small-scale local craftspeople. Last year the craft fair overlapped with the first big snowstorm of the season. But the crafts were of such good quality and so reasonably priced that the fair was a big success anyway (some customers arrived on skis). This year the fair will be on December 14, at the rink house. More details in the December newsletter.

Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market Every Thursday 3 To 7 Pm

From market manager Anne Freeman: The third Terra Madre International Slow Food Gathering in support of small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production took place in Turin from October 23-27, and several of our vendors participated: Colette Murphy and Pablo Reilly of Urban Harvest, Andrew and Natasha Akiwenzie of Akiwenzie's Fish & More, Michael Sacco of Chocosol, and Paula Vopni of Funguy/ Mycosource were all delegates. Pretty special bunch of producers we work with!”

Also from Anne: “Beyond the hours that the market is open, there's all the time of prep, driving, setup, packup and getting home for the vendors. Extra delays can make for a truly exhausting day. Jessie Sosnicki shared this story with me, of a day that could have ended badly: "Last night, pulling out of the park, we hit that piece of metal [access barrier that has sharp edges] and blew the front tire on the rental market truck. Pulled over right away and who came to our rescue within a minute? John, the honey man. He had a jack, popped off the blown tire, drove Ben to a service station to buy a new tire and put the new one on with equipment he had with him! In less than 1 hour we were back on the road going home. We owe him great thanks and he simply said all he wanted was "friendship". He jokes with Ben all the time when he comes to our cash box to exchange a $20 bill for smaller bills and coins and always says: "Benny, you saved my life!". So last night Ben said the same thing back to him and we all laughed! One thing for sure, he's getting a ton of our perogies for his family for one heck of a feast on us!"


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Published by: CELOS

Web site: Henrik Bechmann, Aseel Al Najim

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Park web site:


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