friends of dufferin grove park
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City: Management & Planning

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City: Management & Planning

Websites of interest

We don't necessarily endorse these. They're just samples of what professionals in the field of governance see and do.

  • Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) - Toronto Region
  • IPAC Centre for Governance Dialogue
  • Canadian Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation (c2d2)
  • Canadian Urban Institute (CUI)
  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
  • Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD)
  • Institute on Governance (IOG)

An interesting paper about stewardship (definition) in the public service by Jim Armstrong, with reference to the thought of Jane Jacobs. Read more >>

City: Management & Planning

posted July 25, 2005

A few weeks before this latest municipal government was sworn in (a couple of years ago now), Parks and Recreation announced a radical change in how they would run their operation. From our point of view it meant that we would be dealing with a different supervisor for every element of the park – one for wading pools, another for skating rinks, another for park maintenance, another for children's programs, another for special events, another for improvements to the park (if any), etc. We protested against this new conception, and it was put on hold. There were some internal consultations to fix the problems. But now it seems that the same approach is back, as of this September.

The new operating model seems to spell the end of a park as first and foremost a neighbourhood meeting place. In its place, there is what is called a "functional approach," taking apart all the elements of a park and managing each separate element centrally (and perhaps staffing the park centrally as well).

It's hard to know how our park can continue to flourish under such a system, since Dufferin Grove Park is a very specific place that has grown organically out of the activities of its many friends, from the volleyball players to the picnickers to the playground kids to the rink rats. All the activities are intertwined, and the support we have got from the Parks Division has depended on the support of local (not central) staff who know what we're doing, and who have a history with us.

Adding to our concerns is the fact that the examples we’ve seen of a centralized "functional" approach have been pretty alarming. The Health and Safety Inspectors' visit in 2003, resulting in a threat to shut down the rink, is one example. The C.S.A. playground replacement/ repair program is another. The Policy and Development department's approach to park improvements is another (see the web site research page). The list is long.

So we're about to write to Brenda Librecz, the general manager of Parks and Recreation. We want her to declare our park an alternative site. If the City is bent on trying their "functional" experiment, let them keep us as an alternative laboratory, to see if what's growing here is worth learning from as well. More about this in August.