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May 2006

Friends of Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter

Volume 7 Number 5, May 2006


posted May 11, 2006



Location: right beside the rink house (inside if it rains). Organized by Bruce Whitaker. Bruce writes: ''“Clean your closet of those clothes that are perfectly fine but never get worn, and do your part for the environment through Swap rather than purchase, and find some really groovy clothes, and support those in need, and meet your neighbors.”'' FOR MEN, WOMEN AND KIDS
Clothes Drop-off: Saturday May 6th (11 a.m - 3 p.m) 1 Swap ticket will be given for each item donated. Maximum of 10 tickets but no limit to donations. Clothes need to laundered, be in 'good' shape and be dropped off with hangers. A note attached indicating size and perhaps any other info (i.e. story of its travels) is welcome.
Clothes Swap and BBQ: Sunday May 7th (11 a.m - 3 p.m). Each Swap ticket from the clothes drop-off can be swapped for an article of clothing. Park friends Silvie Varone and Simon Evans are setting up temporary try-on rooms, and park staff Eroca Nicols is going to make sure that no one gets trampled (as well as cooking hot dogs on the BBQ).

“Festival of Non-Violence” Saturday May 6th from 1:00 - 6:00p.m.
Put on by the Humanist Movement of Toronto. ''Location: in the Garrison Creek Hollow, south of the marsh fountain, by Dufferin Street''. Rain or shine.
Live music (Russell Leon Band, Samba Elegua, SINVA, and others), speakers (Christian Peacemaker Teams, Charles Roach, Howard Jerome) and poets (Robert Priest), activities for kids of all ages, coffee and conversation. From the organizers: “The Festival is part of planned activities around the world recognizing a Day of Non-Violence. In '''Liberia, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mexico, Italy, Hungary, Cameroon, India, England''', people are gathering on May 6 to celebrate the force of Non-Violence in their own lives and in the world. This is a creative celebration to encourage the healthy community spirit that rejects violence in all of its forms.”
For more information -

NORWEGIAN CONSTITUTION DAY PARADE AND PICNIC, Saturday May 13th: 12 noon to 3 p.m.; Base location: centre of the park, near the playground. Hosted by parks friends Arne Nes and '''Robin Crombie'''. Arne says that about 200 Norwegians living in Toronto celebrate Norway’s biggest holiday, Norwegian Constitution Day, every May. But the location they had last year wasn’t so good. So this year Arne thought they’d like to try having their parade and picnic in Dufferin Grove Park. They’ll make hot dogs but also Norwegian waffles. The picnic starts at 12 noon. Arne writes: ''“At 12.30: Speech by invited person, at the moment we are trying to get the ambassador or an Olympian to do this. In Norway it’s a big honor to be asked. 1300 Hrs: Parade from the park up Gladstone to Bloor east to Rushholme and down to Dewson and west to park, nice and short, expecting small kids and some seniors. 1400 Hrs: Games for kids.”
Arne looked for a marching band, but had no luck until he ran into
'David Anderson''' (Clay and Paper Theatre director) in the park. David knows a lot of musicians, and within a day he had collected a band for the Norwegians. Some of the celebration’s participants will be in the costumes of their regions, park friend Anne Bjorseth will be helping to cook the traditional waffles, and non-Norwegians are welcome!

ENVIRONMENT DAY: Saturday May 13, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sponsored by Toronto City Councillor Adam Giambrone. ''Location: Dufferin Mall parking lot.'' That’s the day when you get to bring all your paint cans, old computers, batteries and bald tires to be dumped or recycled. There will also be free leaf compost, and recycling bins for sale. For more information, go to

May 25 and June 1 (both Thursdays), 6 to 8 p.m. “Storydance” public workshops for PARK PIECES. Location: centre of the park. During the last two weeks of May, well-known local artists and park friends Meagan O'Shea and Lisa Pijuan-Nomura will be spending many hours in the park, collecting park stories from people in the park. Meagan and Lisa are working on a dance theatre project called PARK PIECES that will take place in Dufferin Grove Park in the months of May and June. They want to create dance pieces based on the stories they gather, which will culminate in a public performance on June 23 and 24. To help shape the dance pieces, there will be two community workshops on May 25 and June 1st from 6 to 8 p.m. These workshops will focus on combining storytelling and dance together. Everyone welcome! For more information about the project, contact Lisa Pijuan-Nomura at

Elisa Gilmour

Part-time park staff and student Elisa Gilmour has been accepted to go and work at a yet-undetermined French-speaking country in Africa with Canada World Youth after her graduation this year. To go, she has to do a fundraiser for her fare and expenses. So Elisa has enlisted her friends (including a few friends on the park staff) to cook a tasty supper for the first outdoor supper of 2006. Elisa has asked other talented friends to make music. This supper is pay-what-you-can, so people can help out as much as they are willing. It’s a good chance to find out more about Canada World Youth, too, for young park friends who might be thinking about what’s next after school is finished.

Second annual “NO ONE IS ILLEGAL” COMMUNITY FAIR, Saturday May 27, 4-8 p.m. ''Location: the Garrison Creek hollow just south of the marsh fountain by Dufferin Street. Organized by the '“No one is Illegal” club''' of Toronto. Live music, food, art and kids’ activities.  This event is part of an international movement (originating in Europe and now world-wide) in support of status for migrant workers. Despite the difficult theme, most recently affecting Portuguese workers in Toronto, last year’s music stage was lively and humorous, and the mood was one of celebration and outdoor fun. For more information:

posted May 14, 2006

May 27 and May 28, 10 to 4 p.m. Bike week show-and-tell

with Issie Chackowicz

Issie Chackowicz is a hero to the park staff because he fixed both of the park’s big old dough mixers this past winter. Issie is actually a bike mechanic and bike safety teacher, not a dough mixer mechanic. But when we put out the word that we’d probably have to raise a lot of money to buy a new dough mixer for the park, Issie decided to apply his “I can do this” approach to life to learn all about small motors and gears in dough mixers. The rest is history: he revived the mixers and now the park bread is back to being delicious.

During the last weekend in May, Issie is going to help the park mark Bike Week by showing how his “I can do this” approach works for people who (1) want to learn to ride a bike, or (2) who already ride a bike in the city but would like to learn how not to get run over by a truck. Issie is a nationally-certified CAN-BIKE instructor. Issie writes: “The CAN-BIKE PROGRAM is is a set of courses on all aspects of cycling safely and enjoyably on the road. The orientation is toward recreational and utilitarian use of the bicycle rather than toward competition. The CAN-BIKE courses are organized on age and 3 levels - basic, advanced and instructor. I teach all the levels including bike maintenance.”

Issie says he can teach anyone, child or adult, to ride a bike in half an hour. That’s just getting moving. After that comes riding in your neighbourhood, then riding on main streets, than riding safely in the urban jungle. The courses are offered at various parks and recreation locations but Issie wants to start some sessions at Dufferin Grove Park. He says there couldn’t be a better location, with the large surface of the rink for doing figures-of-eight, and then the local-traffic-only protection of the block between the park and St.Mary’s High School.

Issie will have an information table about CAN-BIKE courses on Saturday May 27 and Sunday May 28, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. beside the rink house (on the rink surface). He’s willing to talk to all comers, about bike safety and bike maintenance. And he’ll do course registration for this location or others in the city.

posted May 11, 2006


Ongoing free wireless internet in Dufferin Grove Park; On May 27 and 28 volunteers will show you how it works.

Saturday and Sunday May 27 and 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Organized by Gabe Sawhney of Wireless Toronto. Gabe is part of a volunteer group who think that free wireless internet access connects people better in communities, and is the right way to go. The group in Toronto is just over a year old. Their web site is: We asked Gabe to give an example of what wireless internet is good for, and he sent this story: “One of the most active community wireless groups is in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. They coordinated the installation of a community wireless network in New Orleans within days of Hurricane Katrina. That network was powered using batteries, solar, and other off-grid sources, and provided the only communications infrastructure in some areas for weeks. The group also set up low-power FM transmitters to help inform people about what was going on.”

In the past year Wireless Toronto set up a number of free wireless internet access points in Toronto, around St.Lawrence Market and various coffee shops and one pub. But they wanted to expand to the open air. So they contacted Kijiji - a free, local, community classifieds site - to ask if they would sponsor a year’s free wireless internet at a park, and Kijiji said yes.

Janet Bannister from Kijiji writes: “Kijiji ( has local sites in 21 cities across Canada including one here in Toronto. Kijiji means “village” in Swahili. Like the name, Kijiji enables people to buy and sell things with others in their own city – things like furniture, electronics, computers, clothing, and baby items. Kijiji also has categories for cars, pets, services, housing, jobs and personals. The site is totally free – there’s absolutely no cost to post an ad – and it is extremely easy to use. The site is growing very quickly so take a look and you just may find a great bargain or a spot to turn your unwanted things into cash.”

So Kijiji, because of its interest in local communities, agreed to sponsor a year’s wireless interest in a park. Gabe contacted Dufferin Grove Park. City of Toronto officials said that although it’s a good idea, they were not ready to give Wireless Toronto permission to install wireless internet at the park. But a park neighbour offered his house as the point of entry. So wireless internet will come to Dufferin Grove Park in the same way so much else has come to the park – from the neighbourhood. On May 27 and 28, there will be Wireless Toronto volunteers out in the park, showing people how to access the Internet for free. In addition, people from Kijiji will be hosting a “virtual lawn sale”: bring items you’d like to sell and the Kijiji team will take a digital photo of your item and help you post your item for sale.

Many of the Wireless Toronto members also belong to a brand new group called Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data. Their web site ( says they’re “a group of citizens which believes all levels of government should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. We believe this is necessary to allow citizens to fully participate in the democratic process of an ‘information society.’”

What an interesting bunch these Wireless Toronto people are! The question is: if every tree has a person sitting under it who is on-line with her or his wireless computer, will that mean the park falls silent, with the clicking of the keyboards the only sound besides the wind in the leaves? Or will the on-line people divide their time between their screens and playing frisbee or cooking a picnic? Time will tell...

See the Dufferin Grove Park Portal on

May 11, 2006


There’s a new structure in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division. It’s a “structure by function” system, with each park maintenance request, large or small, going through the recreation supervisor as the point of entry, then streamed to various other supervisors, then followed up.

In the spirit of this new style of monitoring and follow-up, we'll try to keep up-to-date with posting all requests and responses on the park web site's maintenance section This way of posting is also a way of anticipating the '''City's 3-1-1 program'''. The program allows citizens to report problems by calling one central number (311) and then tracking the complaint’s follow-up via the internet. Meant to begin in December 2005, the program has now been postponed until 2007. But it's easy to implement this as a test on a very small scale (just one park). So Dufferin Grove Park can be a cheap pilot for the proposed electronic-post-and-follow-up element of 3-1-1 -- another way in which the park functions as a research laboratory. Park friends: if you see a problem, send it to

It will be forwarded to the recreation supervisor and then you can track it on the maintenance page of the park web site. Let’s see how it works.

posted May 11, 2006


The park gardens are picking up more volunteers. The early vegetables are planted, the cherry trees are in bloom, there’s a rhubarb experiment going on (have a look), and the great variety of spring bulbs that were donated last fall give colour to all the flowerbeds. The City’s 25 new trees are not in yet. But two sizable new '''sugar maples are newly planted near the cob courtyard, donated by Mary Wigle as a memorial for her husband Ziggy Kapsa'''. Park friend and gardener Gene Threndyle advised planting some '''aspens '''nearby, because sugar maples like shade when they’re getting started. So four backyard trembling aspens got transplanted to the park, and three of those survived the ordeal. Aspens grow very fast and within five years they’ll give some shade to the cob courtyard. The big aspen in the tree nursery south of the field house was brought there as a seed by a passing bird (according to Gene) and after ten years it’s as tall as a house.

Of four silver maples transplanted from people’s backyards last fall, three made it through the winter and are in leaf. These maples were planted south of the wading pool in place of the big tree that was cut down last summer.

If you like to grow things (or want to learn how) and want to help out in the park, Jenny Cook would love to hear from you. Call her at the rink house at 416 392-0913 or e-mail her at

From Kyla Dixon-Muir, who coordinates a community garden on land behind the City Adult Learning Centre (near Broadview and the Danforth):

“The garden was very seriously vandalized on Easter Sunday night. I had been there until dinnertime, and when I went back on Monday afternoon I was truly horrified and distraught over what I discovered. Not a thing was left untouched: the damage was rampant, willful, and malicious…..To make a very long story short, over a period of days of cleanup we found two pieces of evidence and were able to connect with some of the perpetrators. Turns out some kids in from a nearby city, visiting their aunt, went out late to take the dog for a walk. They hooked up with local kids in Riverdale Park, and ran amok.

Saddest part is the visitor kids are very disenfranchised:  three all with different fathers, and a mother who died of leukemia in November after a prolonged illness.  I still don't know who the local kids are, and probably never will, but with the support of the aunt, who lives just blocks from me, these three young offenders were put face to face with on of the 'victims' of their nasty behaviour.

I met with the kids at their aunt's home, showed them articles on the garden, showed them videotape of the work I'd been doing to build my ColdFrames and nurture the plants through the winter, then showed them a videotape of the destruction as seen by daylight. I cried as we watched it. Then we went to the garden, they saw what was left (after many, many, hours of cleanup) of the damage; they applied garden forks and spades to some of the plots; and then were invited to sample a range of plants to discover just what wonders from the soil there are even this early in the spring. They left with salad greens for their dinner….That night their aunt made them bring a load of bricks to the garden as a donation, and there are more to come.

The next day, Friday, I used some community connections to get them involved with kids their own age who were doing good for the land. Jackman Public School was holding a really big Earth Day event of recycling for the whole community, and the planting of their amazing array of spring gardens. When I explained to the parents and teachers what had happened at our garden, they really went the whole distance for me, trying to teach these kids some positive lessons.”

Kyla has followed up by connecting the kids to a community gardening group in their home city. Meantime, there is plant sale May 17 to 19 at the greenhouse of the City Adult Learning Centre to raise money for this garden and the greenhouse. It’s easy to get to, since it’s just 5 minutes walk from the Broadview subway station, in a surprising little wild corner of downtown. More information: 416 393-0661.

posted May 16, 2006

COB COURTYARD NEWS: Why the cob wall is crumbling in places

Nature – rain, snow, freeze/thaw – loosened some of the plaster (if you tap the loose sections with your fingernails, you’ll hear a different sound). Other sections are fine.

In early June, as soon as the night temperatures stay over 10 degrees, Georgie Donais and Heidrun Gabel-Koepff and other park friends, with some help from the park staff, will begin repairs of all the loosened sections. They’ll try a different formula for the plaster, and they’ll whitewash the wall as well, to make it as bright as at the beginning. The shingles will be embedded more securely, or be replaced by a better kind of protection.

The earth on the green roof will be replenished (it got trampled so badly by the climbers’ little feet that nothing green could grow there now). The part of the wall that makes it easy to get up there will be removed.

The cob courtyard is kind of a cross between a building and a plant, and it needs looking-after like a garden does. Many of the world’s traditional buildings are like that – how nice that the park has one for people to learn on.

Meantime, if anyone sees a person damaging the cob courtyard, please ask them to stop, and call either of these two numbers, day or night, 24/7: 416 533-0153 or 416 709-0573. Park staff and park friends will be there fast. We'd like to follow up with those people – they need to learn something too.

And if you want to help re-plaster, call the park: 416 392-0913, or e-mail

posted May 11, 2006


Pizza days (you make your own, we have dough, sauce and cheese for $2): starting again on Sunday May 14, weather permitting. Tuesday pizza days will resume on May 16, Wednesdays not until the third week in June.

Friday night suppers will resume with Elisa Gilmour’s Canada World Youth fundraiser on May 26.

The food cart will return to the playground as soon as there are enough staff, earlier if the staff can get a little help from park friends, from time to time.


The park’s food, despite being pretty cheap (cheaper if you can’t pay), is bringing in enough money now that it supports some park extras – not only some special park programs, but also the web site, the newsletter, extra supplies and repairs, and bits of research about City funds. For the moment, administering the food funds is the task of the '''CEntre for LOcal research into public Space (CELOS)'''. This little research group, started at Dufferin Grove Park but not limited to that one place, received its “letters patent” as a non-profit corporation on '''September 21, 2005'''. A non-profit has to begin paying GST at the $50,000-earnings mark (that will be around the end of May). That doesn’t mean the food brought in $50,000 profit (most of the park food earnings go to buy more groceries to make more park food), but profit is not the point. Paying GST is the law, even for charitable groups (which CELOS is not – no group doing research into government accountability can get charitable status).

Loaves of bread and other groceries are GST-exempt, so that means no GST for farmers’ market bread nor for pizza days (people buy the raw materials and make their own pizza, so it’s like buying groceries). But any bit of prepared lunch, even a 25-cent slice of bread-and-butter at the zamboni café or the cob snack bar, will have 6% GST on it. That provides a great math opportunity for all the park kids (!), and a formidable math opportunity for the CELOS person keeping the park accounts.

CELOS can administer the funds because its mandate includes “practical and theoretical research into parks and public space.” Figuring out how food can add to a park is practical research, for sure. Much of that research has already shown results. Now the goal of CELOS is to collaborate with City park staff at all levels, over the next two years, to find the best way for park staff to administer park food funds in the long run. The Dufferin Grove Park staff are remarkable – they’re people our taxes pay for, who take charge and make the park work well. Whether the City management can absorb the new ideas coming out of this particular park and these staff people, remains to be seen.

For those park friends who want to know the nuts and bolts of how the park runs, the monthly CELOS park income/expenses reports will be posted on park web site when the GST date begins. Click on “about us.”


DANCING IN THE PARK, STEP ONE: Tuesday or Wednesday classes 4 to 6 p.m.
Many of the people who work at the park have other “hats” that they wear as well. Park staff Eroca Nicols, as lots of park friends know, is a dancer currently studying with Ballet Creole. When park staff Ted Carlisle, who is also a DJ, presented a DJ on Ice day at the end of February, lots of people danced (on the ice, with or without skates). That was so much fun that Eroca began to scheme with Ted, about summer dancing in the park.

So this is the summer to try it.  Eroca says there are so many wonderful group dances/ line dances/ square dances in all the cultures of the world, and she wants to introduce some of them in the park, with the help of park kids. Her plan is to offer free children’s dance classes all summer long at the park on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, beginning June 6 or 7. At 4 p.m. the class is for kids 8 and under, and at 5 p.m. the class is for ages 9 to 13. Then on one Friday each month (June, July, August, September, maybe October if the weather is still good), Eroca and Ted and will host a D.J. dance on the rink pad. The dance class kids will teach everyone (adults too) who want to learn the traditional group dance of that month and then Ted will spin all sorts of other music too.

Eroca says each dance class will be about 45 minutes long, beginning with fun  choreographic games and then learning the dance of the month. To find out more or to sign up, call the park at 416 392-0913 and leave a message, or e-mail Eroca at Eroca will decide about which day (Tuesday or Wednesday) when she finds out which day is better for most people.

Sunday June 18, Clay and Paper Theatre “Day of Delight.”
No information yet except for the date. A celebration of spring going into summer. Usually has music, acrobats, puppets, combined with park pizza at the wood oven.

Wednesday June 14 to Sunday June 18: Third Annual Cooking Fire Theatre Festival
Groups are coming from Halifax, New York, Vancouver, and Toronto. Performances will be in various locations in the park, including a toy theatre show inside the yurt (which will be put up on Saturday June 10 – all hands are welcome to help). As usual there will be wonderful bake-oven food every evening before the performance, cooked with the help of park friend Dan DeMatteis, who – for the week of the festival – has booked from his new job as a special-events chef for Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner Museum.

Park Permits

posted on May 24, 2006


posted May 24 2006, modified July 01, 2007

Over the years, the park staff have worked out some local rules together with park friends that seem to fit the park better than the municipal code’s “thou shalt nots,” above. These rules aren’t ironclad, but they seem to work pretty well for now (for more details call the park staff at 416 392-0913):

  1. Ordinary picnics don’t need permits. Picnic tables can be moved from one picnic spot to another but it’s nice for picnickers to move them back if they’re normally used for a program (e.g. pizza days or Friday Night Suppers). Larger local picnic groups under 25 people: if you’re inviting all your aunts and uncles and cousins too, you still don’t need a permit, but please call the park staff when you’re making plans, at 416 392-0913, so they can help you figure out the best location (one that doesn’t put you on top of another group). The park staff can also lend you a dolly for moving a few more picnic tables and an extra trash can to your picnic spot. Just put them back after.
  2. Permits for groups of over 25 people, centrally booked for $71.22, have their designated base location: the south grove under the big old silver maples, where the permit sign is. Those groups can also borrow the staff dolly to carry over extra picnic tables from elsewhere in the park if they need them. The City charges $50 for each extra trash receptacle. If your group would rather spend that money for the picnic food, the staff can show you where the park’s extra plastic trash bins are kept, which you can borrow for free.

posted May 24 2006, Modified July 01, 2007

Pick-up games don’t need a permit – they’re fine if they don’t get in the way of a central permit (like the Toronto Eagles soccer club). To make sure there’s enough time for pick-up soccer/ frisbee/ cricket/ baseball, Tino DeCastro has booked from Saturday 2 p.m. until Sunday night as a “community permit.” That means there’s no need to book six weeks ahead or to pay for playing a pick-up game at the park.

If a community group wants to have a reliable time, e-mail or call Amy at 416 392-0913. But any such group has to welcome individual drop-ins.


posted May 24, 2006, modified July 1, 2007

People practising music (unamplified), dancing, stilt-walking, fire-twirling, headstands, etc. don’t usually need permits. Groups doing tai chi or yoga don’t need permits. Kids making art in groups don’t need permits. People who stop and watch don’t need a permit either – it’s public!

However, drumming, amplified sound and other more intrusive activities should run by staff first.

Feel free to contact park staff at 416-392-0913 or by email to find out some of the sports and activities currently being practiced at the park.


Campfires need permission, but it’s easy and local. Call the park program staff at 416 392-0913 or There are two campfire locations - centre path and south path – plus one more in winter, by the rink. The south location is only available after 8 p.m.

For more information, see Campfire locations and booking page.


posted May 24 2006

A recent e-mail from the central permit office said that only incorporated groups can do a special event at the park. Since that would wipe out about three-quarters of the events at the park, park friends negotiated with the City to co-sponsor neighbourhood, unincorporated groups for special events. To find out more, contact or call 416-392-0913.


Posted May 16 2006, Modified July 01, 2007

Amplified music is usually only permitted down in the Garrison Creek Hollow, south of the marsh fountain near Dufferin Street. That’s so that the sound is partly muffled by the hillside and doesn’t bother the neighbourhood.

Live music gets a bit of leeway to be elsewhere in the park, if it’s not too loud on the mikes. Tables can be moved down to the hollow as needed, and the rink house has a makeshift stage in storage, available to take down there free of charge.

But all tables, benches, stages etc. should (please) be returned to their original spot afterwards.


posted May 12, 2006, modified July 01, 2007

Some places in the park are never given to a permit group: the cob courtyard (including the outdoor kitchen), the playground rain shelter, the wading pool, the playground (all of it, including the whole adventure playground area), and the wood ovens. People can’t rent them since those spaces always have to be available for park programs, i.e. for everyone’s use.

At the ovens there’s a partial exception for birthday parties, which can book special pizza time before or after Sunday pizza day. And school classes can book class pizza-making time before or after the regular pizza times. But even those groups should welcome any unexpected visitor, who wants to try the ovens for the first time – hospitality is good.

Park Permits: Rule Bound

posted September 12, 2006

At a recent park staff meeting, City recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro said that folks who've been playing informal pick-up soccer at Dufferin Grove, now that spring is here, are doing something illegal. He was kidding, right?

Wrong. A bit of research into the 2001 Toronto Municipal Code turned up this:

§ 608-17. Organized sports or activities. While in a park, no person shall….arrange or engage in an organized sport or activity, unless authorized by permit…” And in case there’s any doubt, the municipal code defines this activity as “a sport, game or activity pre-planned by a group or organization whether or not formally constituted and whether or not the players or members wear uniforms.”

A lot of people call up their friends to come to the park and play a game of some kind, if the weather's nice. Who knew that spontaneous sports activity in parks is actually against the law? (unless players arranged for a permit six weeks in advance, and paid for it).

The municipal code also prohibits weeding the park gardens without a permit, moving a picnic table or a park bench, hanging a birthday pinata from a tree, or being in the park at all after midnight.

Dufferin Grove Park has a lot of outlaws, by those rules. That’s what makes it such a lively place. Time to re-evaluate the rules? But until then, if you get a ticket in the park for playing a game of frisbee or walking your dog after midnight, you can share that news with other park friends by e-mailing

Park friends will pay the ticket.

posted May 11, 2006


MacGregor Park Saturday Art Club starting May 6, 2 –5p.m. with Kristen Fahrig and Anna Galati. (MacGregor is our “sister park,” at Lansdowne just north of College.) A drop-in art club open to anyone in the neighbourhood. From Kristen: “Last fall we made huge paper mache puppets for our costume parade and bonfire party. This spring the theme is “Flags.” We will experiment with methods of printing onto paper and textiles – beginning with block printing and progressing to silk screen printing. We will work on a flag design for MacGregor park. Free. Everyone welcome.”

posted May 11, 2006


Market manager Anne Freeman flew to Los Angeles on May 3, to attend a three-day farmers' market conference. This trip was sponsored by FoodShare, which in turn got a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, to work on expanding farmers' markets into new neighbourhoods. Anne has also been working on that project -- among (many) other things, helping a market in Etobicoke get established.

Before she left, Anne sent this e-mail to the market vendors:

“Congratulations to all of you. In the Health category for the Green Toronto Awards, we received the highest support from the judges, meaning that we won $5,000 to give to the (registered charitable) environmental group of our choice. The judges were very excited about the urban-rural connections that the market encourages, the focus on sustainability and of course, healthy food.”

Anne received the award at a ceremony at City Hall on May 2, along with mushroom farmers Bruno Pretto and Paula Vosni (who applied for it on behalf of the market), and Mary Lou from Beretta's. Park friend Wallie Seto appeared by surprise with his camera, Sarah Harmer sang, and there was lots of excitement. A good day!


posted May 18, 2006

A Day In Court Re: Attempted Abduction

Dufferin Grove Park is not a social work agency and so we don't try to find people who are in trouble. But when trouble finds us, we try to follow it up.

Last January a long-time friend of the park was at the Manulife Centre with her kids. While she tried to find out some information from the building staff, a man grabbed her eldest (10-year-old) daughter and tried to pull her along with him. The plucky kid resisted and he was arrested soon after. It turned out that Tri Van Huynh had done similar stuff before and had a police record. It also turned out that he lives in this neighbourhood, across from the Dovercourt Y. The police published his photo on their web site and most people around here have already seen it.

It takes a long time for a case to come to trial, and three weeks ago, before a trial date had been set, Mr.Huynh was suddenly released on bail, back to the unstaffed rooming house where he lives. That didn't make sense to the parents nor to the rest of us, so on Thursday May 4, a couple of us went to his set-date hearing at Old City Hall, *Courtroom* *J*. The hearing turned out to be in *Courtroom M*, but Mr.Huynh didn't show up, so a warrant went out for his re-arrest.

His rooming house is only a couple of blocks from Fourteen Division, so by evening he was back in Don Jail. When his bail hearing came up again, on Friday May 12, a few of us went down again. We sat and watched the most vivid procession of sorrows and ill luck all morning, in *Courtoom 102 *(Mental Health Court), but neither Mr.Huynh nor his lawyer were there and the case was rescheduled for Monday. On Monday we watched all morning again, but again there was no sign of Mr.Huynh or the lawyer and the case was put over to Tuesday.

Today, Tuesday, Mr.Huynh arrived at court handcuffed in a line to all the other people booked for today. So it was clear that at least one element in the story was nearby. For those who have never been to the courts at Old City Hall -- you should go! The courts are a vivid mix of riveting stories, missing documents, lawyers with hairstyles, old-world formalities, teeth-gritting exasperation, anti-climax, and tears. A roller-coaster, guaranteed to keep you awake hour after hour.

So it was today. After four hours of the most diverse cases, and a break for lunch, Mr.Huyn's lawyer arrived. After another hour, the case finally got its turn. For some moments it was clear (to us alarmed observers) that the court was looking at the wrong file. Then there were some language problems, and then the right file came to hand. The crown prosecutor, after expressing his amazement that this man had been given bail at any point, said the case had been booked into the wrong court.

Mr.Hunh was ordered to come back to *Courtroom J* next week. He tried to say something else to his interpreter, but this seemed to annoy the court police. She grabbed him and pulled him out of the prisoners' box back into the custody room, and the door closed behind them.

So that was the fourth day. The next time a few others will go -- just to keep an eye on this, and to not get any more big surprises. If anyone on this list would like to spend a few hours watching the next time, e-mail and the park staff will confirm the schedule.

One thing that is clear is that the court system is overwhelmed by a blizzard of paperwork and conflicting schedules. It's easy to understand the lament of police -- that they are forced to sit for hours and days waiting for court cases that are then still postponed. Court workers race from courtroom to fax machine to counseling services to the clerks' office and back again, hopefully with the needed document. The court workers are surprisingly civil, considering these frustrations, but certainly there is no space for community concerns in this process.

Time for some changes. What changes would help is still a big question. But for now, Mr.Huynh's cases (there are several similar charges against him) are still pending.


posted May 11, 2006


This newsletter is sponsored by Jim Davis and Anna Korteweg. They read about all the counterfeit money that came through the zamboni café, and decided to give the park a cheque for $200, much appreciated, to make up for the counterfeit twenties that the bank rejected. Jim wrote: “I hope they get caught.” They just might – but maybe not until the rink season resumes. Meantime, the staff wrote away to the Bank of Canada and got a fat envelope full of tips on finding fakes. They’ll have them on display at the food cart this summer.

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