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News 2012

News 2012

From the August 2012 Newsletter:

The tricky problem of FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER, the playground food cart, and make-your-own pizza days at the park ovens

In the July Conservancy newsletter there was a warning that there are no longer enough part-time staff on the roster to handle all the parks programs:

'“Since last year, city management has allowed no new part-time recreation staff to be hired for the Dufferin Grove Park programs, nor for the related programs at other Ward 18 parks (e.g. Campbell and Wallace Rinks in winter, MacGregor Park in summer). That means that when staff leave to go on to other occupations, there are no replacements, so that the pool of talented staff is steadily shrinking. This summer there are not enough staff to run the ovens and work with families for bake-oven pizza days, so most have had to be cancelled. It now looks like there will have to be some days when the wading pool cafe is closed and Friday Night Supper is cancelled.”''

Neither recreation management nor Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailao’s office had time to help address the problem. So two out of the three weekly kids’ “pizza days” aren’t running this summer, and on Friday July 13, there was no supper. All that weekend there was no playground café. Most of the overworked part-time staff took their days off (and those who had already worked 40 hours avoided the penalties that the city assigns to staff who work overtime).

The Toronto Star ran an article about the missing Friday Night Supper (it must have been a slow news day). Recreation Manager Kelvin Seow was quoted there, saying there are plenty of staff at Dufferin Grove. Councillor Bailao asked for a list of part-time staff and when they could work, to see the problem for herself. The list was sent around, showing the shortage. Recreation management responded with a warning – making any staff list public was against the law. CELOS asked for the relevant quotes from the laws management hinted at (Privacy and Labour laws). No response thus far. That warning may turn out to be a red herring.

After some urging by City Councillor Bailao, City management now say that they will hire some backup part-time staff with the skills needed at Dufferin Grove. The hiring won’t be ready in time for the summer season, though, since even after interviews are set up, all new staff have to get a police check. (Cooks use knives, after all.) So there will likely be at least one more summer weekend when the lack of available staff forces the supper and the playground café to shut down.

From the June 2012 Newsletter:

Friday Night Supper

Friday Night Supper, 6 p.m. at Dufferin Grove Park, is back outside for the summer. The big sugar maple that shaded the picnic tables had to be cut down (the wood is helping to heat the ovens). But a new tree will soon be planted. These popular suppers long ago expanded beyond the shade of that big tree anyway. Bring a blanket and sit where you want. Reminder: the supper is based on a suggested donation. If you can’t afford it or forgot your wallet, eat anyway! You can donate less than the suggested amount, or you can donate more. Every bit helps, not only to cover the food costs but also to buy supplies for other park programs, and to add a few new programs by the playground. The food is cooked by the park staff, based on what’s available at the Thursday farmers’ market, and it’s a delicious adventure.

If the forecast is bad, check the website ( or the park phone (416 392-0913) for cancellation. You can also find the menu posted on the website, after 3 pm. And if you don’t like the big crowds or want a different night, try the new Saturday Night Supper at Campbell Park (6 pm).

Budget information: the cookie (donation) money and its use is itemized on the website (click on “financial information”). The Quickbooks program that’s used to keep track is easy to run reports on – write to if you want to learn more about where the money goes.

The use of the city budget in Ward 18 parks and recreation centres is the subject of a long-running Freedom of Information request that is due any day now. When CELOS gets the details, the information will be posted on two park bulletin boards. It should be interesting and helpful.

Summertime “Prezi” slide shows in Ward 18 parks: CELOS recently bought a projector with the last of the 2010 Trillium “governance” grant funds. We’re using “Prezi,” a very lively, easy-to-use slide show program, to highlight park programs around here and elsewhere. The “Prezi tent” will be travelling to various Ward 18 parks (and beyond) this summer – presenting fifteen-minute slide shows, and even some park videos, for all ages. Look for it!

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