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News 2005

posted August 12, 2005 from the August Newsletter


The wading pool is open every day from about 11.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or until 7 if it’s over 28 degrees). Bring water toys but please leave the squirt guns at home. The sandpit is always open. If you and your kids are frequent early-morning sandpit visitors, you can ask the staff for your own key to the lockup box, so you can take out the equipment when you arrive. No need to put it away when you leave, but please: last person to leave the sandpit in the evening, turn off the tap!

Crafts materials are set out most days beside the wading pool. On Wednesday afternoon park staff Bianca runs clay-building; on Thursday afternoon kids can cook flapjacks over a campfire with park staff Caitlin; on Saturday afternoon, park staff Eroca sets up the tile-painting table (the tiles are all going to be part of the cob courtyard mosaics); and on Sundays, Eroca (who is a dancer) does “beach blanket bingo” – dancing and bingo by the wading pool. Park staff also lend out balls (basketballs, volleyballs, footballs), but you have to leave collateral. Chess and checkers are set up by the yurt near the wading pool.

photo by Wallie Seto, June 2005

For outdoor swimming pools, check the city website for swimming pools or call 416-338-POOL (7665).

posted April 12, 2005


From Georgie Donais:

"Come and join us by the playground on Friday, April 22, for an Earth Day celebration (weather permitting). <b>We'll be building a mock-up</b> of the upcoming courtyard wall project with fabric and poles at around <b>11:00am</b>, and then we can enjoy lunch together. Bring your own food or buy something tasty from the park food cart, which will also be there to help with the party.

That evening, rain or shine, join us for an <b>Earth Day movie night</b> in the Rink House.


  • 7:00pm Natural Building (30 min) - Follows an earthen courtyard project in Wisconsin.
  • 7:30pm The End of Suburbia (2 hours) - Speculates on North America's future in the face of diminishing oil supplies. Children are welcome. We will have some supervision on hand to help out, and will bring out the toys and books.

posted March 11, 2005

Friday March 11: a special playground/cob structure Friday Night Supper

Friday March 11, 6 to 8p.m.: a special playground Friday Night Supper with all funds going to buy materials for the traditional cob/straw bale structure that Georgie Donais wants to build (communally) at the playground this spring and summer. Georgie will bring a DVD to show the fun that people had building such a structure together in Madison Wisconsin. This supper will also be a chance for people with kids to find out more about the city's playground problems, and to get a list of playground friends started. (No speeches, just good bulletin boards.)The <b>regular prices and format</b> of Friday Night Supper apply, and no reservations are necessary.

posted November 22, 2004

The playground inspectors visit our park

A letter to our playground mailing list:

Dear playground friends,

Yesterday Jane LowBeer and I met with two playground inspectors, Ron and Tom. Ron said he might have done our park's inspection back in 1999 but he can't remember, there have been so many.

We went over what the report recommended. The main things were:

  1. take out half the swings on the long bar
  2. remove the spiral slide and replace it
  3. remove the metal climber in case a kid's body gets stuck between two bars (too wide for a head to get stuck) (?!?)
  4. remove baby swings at the centre
  5. remove the slide or shade tree at the centre (only 5 feet between bottom of toddler slide and tree) (!)
  6. remove large slide on the other side of that structure, replace
  7. re-design the jiggly bridge so there would be no places to pinch fingers
  8. put vertical slats on all sections that now have horizontal slats
  9. relocate a daisy spring toy away from the four-way spring toy

Of these and a few less major things, the things that were actually done are:

  1. removing the spiral slide (but it was never replaced)
  2. removing the jiggly bridge -- but it wasn't re-designed, it just had some straight boards nailed on instead
  3. relocating the daisy spring toy

On paper the city has spent over $4 million to repair and retrofit playgrounds since 2000 (that was the year the school boards also trashed so many of theirs). We have a freedom of information request in to find out how that money was spent city-wide (a bit of a puzzle).

The portion of this repair fund allocated to Dufferin Grove Park was $11,470 plus $1775.50 (15% "contingency"), which comes to $13,190.50. (Freedom of information.)

The most the city could have spent at Dufferin Grove playground with the renovations they DID is $1775 plus 15% "contingency," which makes $2041.25.

That leaves $11,149.25 to get the new slide, re-build the jiggly bridge so it's like the ones in Ottawa (still jiggles but doesn't pinch), and do whatever other safety work is thought helpful by playground users and by kids. The CSA standards can be a reference, but we are not obliged to conform to them (this point is made very clearly and forcefully in the latest CSA playground standards themselves) because our playground already existed before. Both the inspectors were unaware of this fact.

I have sent this request (to get the rest of our playground money and have plenty of community input on how to use it) to Bill Gaudet, the supervisor of the playground alterations. As soon as he answers, I'll pass it along.

Thank goodness they were so slow that they didn't gut the playground before now. Good grief.


P.s. many of you have been sending me e-mails saying you're forwarding the playground messages to friends -- some have e-mailed me to get on the list -- keep it coming. A big playground e-list will be useful in case we find out that the money assigned to Dufferin playground has mysteriously vanished -- and in the even worse case that a crew with a loader arrives to carry out some of the other removals (slides, swings, climber).

A parent responds to Bill Gaudet:

Please, please, please do not get rid of the baby swings and slide. They have provided so many hours of fun to our family. And there are always enough adults around to watch the kids and make sure everyone stays safe.

sheila pin

Our response:

Dear Sheila,

None of what's on the playground inspectors' list to be removed at Dufferin Grove needs to be removed, and with proper community consultation, it won't be removed. The things that were removed already should be replaced with good stuff approved by playground users. I suspect that Bill Gaudet, if he answers, will say that they'll replace the swings/slide with new stuff. The problem is that the new stuff often seems to be pretty inferior. So the playground users need to follow up on this, pretty diligently.

We're lucky that we didn't lose more. So many playgrounds all over the city lost their best pieces, bango, all of a sudden one day they weren't there -- or the whole playground was gone, replaced by something much less. Worse damage than anything you'd get from vandals!

It took us so long to get the playground reports, and the city wouldn't give them to us directly (I started trying in Spring 2003). Now that we got them through Freedom of Information, we're about to post the city-wide reports and "before" photos on our web site playground pages. Tell your friends! If want to follow up this kind of playground damage in their local playground, they can go to the web page. They may be able to fix it.


posted December 9, 2004

Another perspective:

I know the state of our playgrounds is of utmost interest to those whose children are still young enough to enjoy them. It is, of course, the current users of the equipment who suffer most. But the bureaucratic vandalism hurts and offends the broader community, too.

From the mouth of someone whose playground days are long gone: my daughter - who is in university - was devastated when the Board of Ed completely razed the playground at Dewson School. "That's my childhood they just tore down," she shouted, as we drove past the newly wasted Dewson yard. She really felt they'd taken away a part of her, too. It hadn't occurred to me until then that even the "big kids" get a great deal of comfort from our playgrounds, and retain a sense of ownership.......long after they've physically outgrown them. They represent their community, a lot of memories.

Around the time the school playgrounds were being torn out, there was a wonderful editorial cartoon of two small children in helmets and knee pads standing in an empty playground. I forget the exact caption - but it captured the sense of over-the-top paranoia that anyone might hurt themselves "playing"!

Cheryl Hawkes.

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