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News 2005

posted 2005

2002 Park Costs Notebook

Unions involved: 416 for labourers: between 38.5 to 45% benefit load 79 for forepersons trades unions: benefit load: painters: 36% Trades wage rates: Electrical: $27.81 Plumbing $30.26 Carpentry: $28.79

Labourer wage rate: $25.78/ hr. plus 38% benefits

Each section is allowed to have 1 apprentice per trade. They are cheaper. (First year apprentice for plumber is $12.10/hr.)

Note: for park improvements, the capital budget is already scheduled through 2010.

Repairing benches on rain shelter: 10 hours at $27.15/hr plus 50% benefit load (carpenters): $407.25 not counting the materials. Plus the truck they

Rink power costs $12,000 to $15,000 in cold winter, $18,000 -$20,000 in a warm winter. [Maybe -- nobody knows for sure.] This winter that means about $1300 a week.

Board repair for all south district hockey rinks in winter 2001 season: $142,000. Plywood costs $65 a sheet; would have used 20 sheets on our rink. Rink operator: $20.19/hr. plus 33% markup. There’s a rink operator assigned to our park 60 hours a week even though there are only 7 shifts of 8 hours. (Union agreement.) So he cost $22,556.26 for the season. Plus forepersons cost $2804/wk = $42,074 per season (but divided among (?)_rinks.) This doesn’t tell about the cost of propane or gas to heat building or cost of Olympia. Cost of rec staff for rink (not counting learn-to-skate instructors): $18,234.40. That’s for 6 days of 13 hours and 1 day of 10 hours, sometimes on and sometimes 2 staff at a time (11 staff).

Rink operator costs about $134 for the five hours he sits on every shift. In a warm year it might cost about $185 to power the rink for 24 hours. Every week we could save $938 if there was no rink operator sitting around for 5 hours of every 8 hours. That means we could afford 5 more days of rink power.

Cost of ice resurfacer: $40/hr. x 56 x 13 hours is $29,120. Or: $16.28 x 40 x 13 = $8465.60

To repair green fence that’s falling down: not necessarily a parks fence. They’d have to search the original agreement. But it may be a safety issue. Not clear whose responsibility it is.

Picnic tables and benches: no new benches or tables being ordered right now. Dept. spent $36,000 last year repairing picnic tables.

Oven door: $910 was made up of 16 hours of labour by welder, 8 hours by assistant \ truck cost $153, plus welding machine (no cost puty on yet). Materials cost $65.

Doing the Forestry trimming: may have cost about $12,122 labour this year. Plus if they spend 10 days i.e. 80 hours x 3 people = 240 hours in the park then what would their wage have been? Plus cost of lift truck: $1434.40. Plus cost of chipper: $4.60 x 80 = $368. Or: pruners cost $20.22/hr., x 160 = $3304 plus foreperson costs $22.37/hr. x 80 = $1789.60. Add 23% plus 15% markup = $7029.16.

South fence to BB court costs $65 a foot. Fence is 40 feet, so $2,600. It costs $300 to scuff up the BB court.

From Tino, early on: Hi Jutta , here are the numbers that will help in determining the costs of operating dufferin. I also have a document that has prices to every item avaiable through stores. It is at Wallace , I could have Theresa drop it off, let me know. Tino

These rates are based on per Hour rate: Electrician - $28.69 Carpenter $28.06 Labourer- $17.68 Painter - $26.85 Plumber $30.26 RCO $18.55 Parks Truck Driver $18.93 HEO (Heavy Equipment Operator) $20.22 Senior Parks Labourer $18.09 Foreperson $21.44 Gardener $18.93 Senior Gardener $20.22

All vehicle costs per hour, based on a 40 Hour Week Olympia/Zamboni $16.28 Flying Squad Truck and Trailer $12.50 Pickup with Plow $10.50 Front End Loader - Articulated - $16.00 1. Stately truck I assume is a stake or open truck. $6.13 2. Cherry Picker can be either an aerial van $7.52 or an aerial truck (50 foot reach) $14.00 3. Plumbers truck is a van type unit $5.96 4. Regular Pickup Truck $4.28

Approximate cost of Driver laborer for Dufferin AIR is $15,680( does not include benefits burden)for 14 week season;

Grove Expenditures to date as per new Pcode 10503 -NAPKIN, LUNCH,WHT,11.5"X12.5",1 PLY,/CS. 05/07/2001 $165.62 -HOE, DUTCH, 05/07/2001 $45.51 -REC & EDUCT16/08/2001 $76.60 -PADLOCK, KEYED ALIKE, #1 MASTER,

  1. A-297 04/06/2001 $144.39

-PADLOCK, KEYED ALIKE, #1 MASTER, #2359 04/06/2001 $230.70 -PAPER REC & EDUCT'N SUPPLS BOOTH STORES 16/08/2001 $12.60 -PEST CONTROL 06/09/2001 $81.68 -NEWSLETTER 16/08/2001 $120.28 -DUFFERIN GROVE NEWSLETTER 21/08/2001 $86.28 DUFFERIN GROVE NEWSLETTER 25/09/2001 $103.28 DUFFERIN GROVE NEWSLETTER 25/10/2001 $103.02

Recreation staff; rink staff (rink season 01-02) $18,234 Entire year including all spring summer fall staffing: $46,120. Note that in this case the staff were also taking over some maintenance functions especially clean-up, some graffiti removal, some park furniture repair. Total of year: $64,354.

Comparison for rec staffing: Alex Duff pool: $110,000 for part-time in June, full time in July and August (note that this is still restricted use – if all pools were staffed and open, it would cost $165,000 per season.

Maintenance supervisor's numbers:

Garbage truck, to remove external garbage bags 1 hour a week x 52 weeks (I.e. twice a week, takes half an hour each time) – truck driver and senior labourer: $1928.68/ $2662.57 counting benefits Cutting and maintaining turf: 8 hours x ten times, 1 foreperson, one truck driver and 2 labourers: $6064 plus burden = $8368.32 Picking litter: 1 hour x 52 weeks : Mike calculated $1577.16; I calculated senior labourer $940.68 ($1297.45 if you count benefit burden) he says it’s a heavy equipment operator who does it, at $20.22/hr = $1051.44 plus 38% benefits = $1451.44. (HEO has real hourly cost to city of $27.90). “Other stuff” foreperson plus 2 labourers x 5 days (i.e. $1182 for FP, $1997 for labourers, all this counts benefits). Leaf clean-up: truck driver x 5 days = $757.20 plus burden is $1044.73 counting benefits, plus foreperson and 2 labourers x 5 days is: foreperson: $857.60 plus burden is $1183.48 plus labourers: $1447.20 plus burden = $1997.13. Supervision is $1560 plus burden is $2152.80. Total non-winter = $20,855.99


This year four snow ploughs: 2 hours x $27.90 (HEO) each time is $223.20 Case loader: $16 x 8 = $128 4 snow falls, cleaning sidewalks: foreperson and 2 labourers x 16 hours: $343.04 plus $578.88 = $921.92 plus benefit burden of 38% = $1272.24

Plus daily checks for icy sidewalks, 20 minutes each time x 100 days [sic] = $1975.40 (M.H.) x 38% = $2726.05.

Total winter: $4349.49

Total maintenance: $25,199.48 plus trucks and lawn-mowers

What does it cost to run our park?

Sports field: The soccer field has an irrigation system which automatically sets its watering schedule according to the weather – is very low maintenance, costs about $333 a year not counting cost of water. Looked after by plumbers (technical services).

Field House and club house: Regular maintenance (turning water on and off in field house bathrooms, checking and changing light bulbs, monitoring building conditions, fixing problems that are found during monitoring): 2000: $989.12. 2001: $1337.35. Expenditures linked to rink house from 2001: $5896. (Special problems involving work orders). When Mimo plugs the field house toilets: costs between $160-$190 each time. If painters repaint the field house: about $1600 plus $140 for truck plus (unknown) cost of paint (minor compared to labour). Note there is no regular maintenance inspection: they depend on information from Mike Hindle and Tino. Looked after by property department.

Playground and wading pool: There is no regular maintenance schedule. They depend on Mike Hindle or Tino for information. Fixing defective benches on rain shelter last year: 10 hours carpenter labour plus 50% benefit load: $407.25 not counting the materials. Plus $5.50/hr. for the truck when in use. Looked after by technical services.

Repairing the seams on the wading pool: takes 8-20 hours, may use one labourer or two. Cost is $240 to $700 not counting materials. Looked after by technical services.

Painting over graffiti on green pool shed: 8 hours at $27.35 plus benefit burden of 36% = $297.56 not counting the paint. Looked after by technical services.

Fixing the drinking fountain at the wading pool: if a new line has to be laid, that would cost $5500 (assuming the waterline would be 300 feet.) Looked after by technical services.

Repairing the wooden fence that separates the playground from the houses: no cost because it’s no one’s job. The house owners may be required to pay for it if it falls down.

Picnic tables and benches (park furniture): no new ones are being bought at the moment. Technical services spend $36,000 last year fixing picnic tables in the whole of South district. . Small repairs are made by maintenance staff.

Trees: They get a major overhaul once in 5 –10 years in a big way, otherwise as problems are reported. Last summer two pruners and a foreperson spent about 2 weeks in the park pruning: cost was between $7029.16 and $12,122 (estimate because Forestry doesn’t track individual sites). The lift truck cost $1434.40 plus the chipper cost $368. Looked after by Forestry.

Marsh garden: Needed a new pump for the fountain last year. Pump cost $375; labour cost $929.42. Looked after by technical services (plumbers).

Basketball court: New fence on the south to keep balls from rolling down the hill: $65 a foot x 40 feet = $2,600. Cost of roughing up concrete so players don’t slip so much: $300 each time it gets slick again. Contracted out by technical services.

Oven: new iron door on smaller oven, measures 21 inches by 16 inches: 16 hours welder plus 8 hours assistant plus truck cost plus welding machine: $910. Done by technical services.

Paths: new interlock path at south end cost $3300. No other new hard paths have been put into the park in Mike Hindle’s memory. Cost of paving is: concrete: $7/sq.ft.; asphalt: $3.50 sq.ft.; interlock: $9 sq./ft. Park staff can do concrete and interlock but not asphalt. New paths looked after through capital budget.

Christmas tree lights: this year it took two staff two days to string the four trees. Cost was at least $1183.26 plus cost of lift truck $286.88. Councillor Silva pays for the actual lights.

New “city within a park” signs for park: $750 plus $250 installation. We had two so it cost about $2000. Reason for getting new park signs when the other ones were less than ten years old and in good condition: a new vision statement developed by the megacity top park staff: “Toronto will be known by the world as the ‘City within a park,’ ….The world will envy and seek to emulate the healthy, productive and balanced lives the people of Toronto have achieved.”

Routine park maintenance: Removing garbage from the perimeter of the park, truck driver and senior labourer 1 hour/week x 52 weeks: $2662.57 Picking up litter: heavy equipment operator, 1 hour/wk. X 52 weeks: $1451.44 (this worker costs $27.90 counting benefits) Cutting and maintaining grass: one foreperson, one truck driver, two senior labourers, 10 times a season: $8368.32. Miscellaneous tasks: 1 foreperson plus 2 labourers, 5 days a year: $1182 plus $1997. Leaf clean-up in fall: truck driver plus foreperson plus two labourers x five days is $1044.73 plus $1183.48 plus $1997.13 = $4225.34 Supervision: 1 hour x 52 weeks = $2152.80. Total spring-summer-fall maintenance, per year: $22,039.47 Winter maintenance: This year four visits by the snow ploughs to rink: $223.20 plus caseloader: $128 Four snowfalls, clearing park perimeter sidewalks: foreperson plus two labourers 16 hours in total: $1272.24 Daily 20-minute checks for ice on sidewalks, x 100 days: $2726.05. Total winter maintenance: $4,349.49. Total year’s maintenance: $26,382.96

Rink: Rink operator: 60 hours a week at $20.19/hr. plus 33% benefit burden: $22,556.26 per winter. Rink forepersons: $4674 per winter. Electrical power to run rink: warm winter = $18,000 to $20,000 per winter, cold winter = $12,000 to $15,000 a winter. Olympia (ice cleaning machine): estimates vary from low of $8465.60 to high of $29,120. Propane (fuel to run Olympia): cost unknown. Recreation staff: $18,234 (not counting learn-to-skate program, only running rink). Repair of boards, installation of lift gates, repair of damaged swing gates etc.: unknown.

Recreation staff: spring-summer-fall: $46,120. Total cost of Dufferin Grove Park recreation staff in four seasons: $64,354. Comparison: reduced Alex Duff Pool staff for 2.5 months: $110,000.


Dufferin Grove Park covers 14.2 acres. That means it’s larger than Christie Pits (12.7 acres) but considerably smaller than Trinity-Bellwoods Park (22 acres). It has a soccer field, a small-scale baseball diamond, a basketball court, a playground, a campfire circle, a wading pool, a sand pit, two outdoor wood-fired community bake-ovens, an artificial ice rink, and space remaining for volleyball, badminton, ball hockey, touch football, cricket, frisbee, theatre, dance, music, and picnics. There are three buildings with a roof: the rain shelter by the playground, built in 2000 (no walls), the field house, built in 1913 (with the park’s main public washrooms), and the rink house, built in 1992. Our park also has 13 garden areas, some small, some medium-sized, some with native plants, some with mixed perennials/ annuals, and some with vegetables. One of these gardens is a little marsh, with a small fountain. These garden areas were added by various gardeners from the neighbourhood in the years after 1993 (that year the last parks department flower bed was covered over with grass by the parks staff).


WHO’S IN CHARGE: The rink house and the field house come under the jurisdiction of the City Property department. That means that standard maintenance and any repairs are the responsibility of Property supervisor Don Eastwood. Don was able to track the cost of maintaining our buildings, although he said he used to be able to do this much more easily before the last city computer upgrade.

WORKERS: Mainly trades (electricians, painters, carpenters, plumbers). Union: specific trade-linked unions (electrical, carpenter, etc.)

COST OF REGULAR MAINTENANCE: $989.12 in 2000 and $1,337.35 in 2001.

COST OF RINK HOUSE REPAIRS: $5,896 in extra repairs in 2001, which Don says is about standard for a public building of that size, that gets used so much and contains a lot of vibrating machinery.

COST OF FIELD HOUSE REPAIRS: Painting last year: $1600 in labour (a city painter earns $27.35 an hour, plus 36% in benefits) , plus $140 for the truck. The city buys paint in such quantity that Don didn’t know the separate cost for our field house paint, but he said it’s peanuts compared to labour costs.

MIMO REPAIRS: $850 last summer: $160 and $190 each time to bring in a plumber (a city plumber earns $30.26 an hour, plus 38% benefits) to come and fix the toilet. Mimo the homeless man hears voices telling him to plug the toilets so tightly with his cardboard pieces that the plumber usually has to unbolt the whole toilet to fix it.

NOTE TO MIKE HINDLE: HOW MANY HOURS AND HOW MANY STAFF DOES IT TAKE TO DO ROUTINE SERVICING OF THE FIELD HOUSE WASHROOMS? Again as I have said before please DO NOT quote these figures as gospel but these are approximate numbers for the washroom maintenance based on an average visit length to clean and restock . For a 26 Wk season .

Truck $ 304.20

Supplies $ 350.00

Labour $ 2781.40 ( includes closing W /C's at night )

There are a number of other areas where your wording bothers me but It's only because you don't understand our operations and many jobs are combined so costs are I feel not very representative of our operations . Mike..


WHO’S IN CHARGE: Day-to-day maintenance: Mike Hindle, supervisor, works out of High Park Service Yard. Has a crew made up of laborers, truck drivers, and forepersons.

Damage repair: Technical Services. Bill Gaudet supervises the laborer repair crew, and Dominic Fantauzzi supervises the trades (for instance, if a painter is needed, or a carpenter). Both Gaudet and Fantauzzi work out of the Booth Avenue Yard, near Jones and Queen Street.

WORKERS: Laborers are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), local 416, and the trades are each in their own trades union (electrical, plumbers’, carpenters’, etc.).

REPAIRS: carried out as problems are reported, but there is no staff person whose job it is to find the problems. That’s why a bench or a picnic table near the playground may be damaged for a long time without being repaired. There is one exception: the city employs a playground inspector, who goes around to all the parks and evaluates the safety of play equipment and whether it meets new playground standards. If he finds damage he will report it for repair.

COST OF REPAIRS: The Parks department can’t tell us how much our park costs for maintenance or repairs: they don’t track sites separately. But they can help us guess. For example:

RAIN SHELTER BENCH REPAIR: $462.25. When the rain shelter storage benches were built, the design called for very heavy hinged lids on the benches. After a few months of use, the lids began to break off their hinges. Also the lids closed with such a heavy bang that recreation staff feared people would have their hands crushed if a lid dropped when they were getting something from inside the storage bench. The repair crew had to replace the lids with lighter ones. Carpenter wages: $407.25. (City carpenters earn $28.79 an hour plus 50% benefits). Truck cost: $55. The cost of materials is unknown. Work done by Technical Services, Bill Gaudet, supervisor.

GRAFITTI REPAIR: $297.56 for painters, when some giant graffiti appeared all over the wading pool storage shed in the fall. Cost of the paint is unknown.

WADING POOL: $240 - $700 for labour if the asphalt seams on the wading pool have to be redone, that may take between 8 and 20 hours, depending on the damage. A senior laborer (most of Bill Gaudet’s staff) earns $18.09 per hour plus 36% benefits.

DRINKING FOUNTAIN: $5,500 if we need a new drinking fountain beside the wading pool. It’s not usable now (sediment) except if the wading pool is open (because there is then so much water flushing all the pipes). A new drinking fountain would need a new water line put in from the main water line on Havelock Street.

FENCE: $0. The wooden fence separating the houses from the playground is starting to fall over in several spots. There is no price on repairing it because no one knows whose responsibility it is. The fence may be the responsibility of the home owners bordering on the park. So the city may not pay at all. It is no-one’s job to look into this.



WHO’S IN CHARGE: It is no-one’s job to monitor their condition. But if a park user or a grass cutter happens to notice broken slats or nails sticking out, they may be repaired by the maintenance workers (bench slats, protruding nails, leaning benches) or the technical services staff (painting, picnic table repair).

BASIC REPAIRS: $3179 for five days a year of trouble-shooting in our park by the maintenance crew (Mike Hindle, supervisor). That includes bench repair and other odds and ends. The cost covers one foreman ($1,182) and 2 labourers ($1,997).

NEW BENCHES AND PICNIC TABLES: $0. Supervisor Dominic Fantauzzi warned that no new picnic tables or benches are being bought at the moment. He spent $36,000 across the old city of Toronto last year, repairing picnic tables. But as the tables and benches age and rot and crumble, they may not be repaired. He said that park furniture damage needs to be reported and fixed fast, before the whole bench or table are too damaged to save.


WHO’S IN CHARGE: Maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor.

COST: $0. Although there are still three Parks Department shrub beds, there is no gardening budget for Dufferin Grove Park. The last Parks Department flower bed was taken out in 1992. The community gardens that have been put in by neighbourhood gardeners get the following help from the city: a yearly supply of leaf compost and sometimes some manure from High Park Zoo, and 29 flats of annuals from the High Park greenhouse in spring. All planting, weeding, and watering is done by neighbourhood gardeners. Picking up garden waste is contentious: city workers sometimes do it. They do not pick litter from any community garden area that is fenced, and not usually from the unfenced gardens either.

MARSH FOUNTAIN REPAIR COST: $1304.42 for a new pump. The original fountain pump (paid for by a Canada Trust grant) wore out after three years, running 8 months a year. The new pump cost $375, installation cost $929.42 in labour. Work done by Technical Services, Dominic Fantauzzi, supervisor.



WHO’S IN CHARGE: Maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor.

CUTTING AND MAINTAINING GRASS: $8,368.32. This requires one foreperson (who earns $21.44 plus 36% benefits/ hour), one truck driver to drive the large mower (s/he earns $18.93 plus 38% benefits/ hour) and two labourers. Ten cuts a year.

LEAF CLEAN-UP IN FALL: $4,225.34. One foreperson plus one truck driver plus two labourers (five days every fall).


WHO’S IN CHARGE: Forestry, Regina Gudelis, supervisor.

PLANTING: there is no allocated budget for tree planting at specific parks.

PRUNING AND CUTTING, COST: $8,832.40 (low estimate, in 2001) or $13,924.40 (high estimate). There’s some confusion because Forestry doesn’t track specific sites. Tree pruning and cutting of rotten trees is done as needed (e.g. when a branch or a tree comes down or looks rotten). At irregular intervals more pruning and cutting are done. Last summer, two pruners (they earn $20.22/ hour plus 38% benefits) and their foreman (who earns $22.37/ hour plus 38% benefits) spent about 2 weeks in the park pruning. In addition to the labour, the use of the lift truck cost $1,434.40 and the chipper cost $368.


WHO’S IN CHARGE: Maintenance (Mike Hindle, supervisor) for commissioning the work, and Technical Services (Bill Gaudet), for doing the job.

COST: $0. There is no budget for walkways. That is why two of the three main park walkways are rutted dirt paths for part or all of their length.

COST OF LAST WALKWAY PAVED: $3,300. City Councillor Mario Silva was able to arrange for park staff to use up an existing store of interlock bricks (so cost was only for labour, materials were free) at the southwest end of the park , in 1999.

COST OF OTHER PAVED WALKWAYS IN OUR PARK: No one can remember, it was too long ago. There are some older interlock walkways as well as short pieces of asphalt paths, which have held up well. But the main north-south public walkway connecting the two ends of Gladstone is entirely dirt. The diagonal walkway connecting lower Havelock to the Dufferin Mall main entrance is rutted dirt east of the Gladstone walkway. West of there, it is paved partly with asphalt, partly with interlock. The north walkway connecting the two sections of Dufferin Park Avenue is asphalt, with one section narrowing from erosion. North, east and south parkway entrances are particularly rutted and eroded, making it difficult or impossible for park users with wheelchairs or strollers to get into and around the park in winter, early spring, or at rainy times in other seasons. West entry points are paved.

CAPITAL BUDGET MONEY: Walkway improvements come under the capital budget, which at this moment has a waiting list of between 10 and 12 years for big-ticket items. Once you’re at the top of the list, you’re in good shape, though: McCormick Rec Centre needed a $300,000 mechanical upgrade and instead they’re getting a $3 million overhaul.

COST OF PAVING OUR DIRT WALKWAYS: $14,700 for the main walkway, connecting Gladstone north and south (700 feet long, 6 feet wide, asphalt), $7,720 for the diagonal walkway from Havelock to the park mid-point where the paving starts (320 feet long, 6 feet wide, asphalt). Concrete paving costs $7 a square foot, interlock paving costs $9 a square foot, and asphalt paving costs $3.50 a square foot. It is sometimes possible to jump the capital budget queue; in this case, it may be necessary to try, since the park walkways are getting worse every year, at the same time as park foot traffic is steadily increasing.



WHO’S IN CHARGE: Iron fences and chain link fences: Technical Services, Dominic Fantauzzi, supervisor. Iron fences cost $60 a section to replace, plus the labour costs. But the fences don’t break often. The chain link fences cost $65 a foot. Those around the ice rink have not needed replacing since they were installed in 1993, except for one of the gates, which was taken down several times by the zamboni driver. The cedar rail fences are repaired by maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor. They cost $9 per rail. About 15 rails a year need replacement when they break (usually because of vandalism).


WHO’S IN CHARGE: maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor. COST OF GARBAGE PICK-UP: $3,494.57 a year. Garbage bags (from the garbage baskets) are picked up twice a week. It takes a truck driver and a labourer half an hour each time: $2,662.57 for labour plus $832 for the truck.

COST OF LITTER-PICKING: $1451.54 a year. This pays for litter-picking for one hour a week. The person who mainly picks up the litter is classified as a heavy equipment operator, so he earns $20.22 an hour plus 38% benefits.


WHO’S IN CHARGE: maintenance, Mike Hindle, supervisor, for sod; technical services, supervisor, Dominic Fantauzzi, for repairs/monitoring involving the trades.

SOCCER FIELD, COST OF REPAIR: $??? The soccer field was partly re-sodded and the baseball back-stop was reduced in size last year. New Soccer goal posts were installed. The cost of these improvements is unknown.


SOCCER IRRIGATION SYSTEM, COST: $333 per year. There is an irrigation system buried just under the soccer field, which works well and requires little repair. The watering schedule is set according to the weather, and a plumber does yearly maintenance.

BASKETBALL COURT IMPROVEMENTS AND REPAIR: $2600 for a new backstop for the south side last year, to keep the ball from rolling down the hill all the time. (The fence measures 40 feet and it costs $65 a foot (ten feet high).) $300 for the machine/plus operator to rough up the concrete when it gets too slippery and they players wipe out. Contracted out.


OVEN DOOR REPLACEMENT: $910. One of the outdoor park ovens had a defective oven door. The city welder came and removed that door, and made a new one, which he also installed. The door measures 21 inches by 16 inches. Materials cost $65, welder plus assistant plus use of welding truck cost another $845 (16 hours of welder plus 8 hours of assistant). Really. Technical services.

CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS: $1470.14. The light strings are paid for by Councillor Silva’s office. Installation, involving two park staff for two days (including an electrician) costs $1,183.26, plus $286.88 for the use of the lift truck. Technical services.

NEW PARK SIGNS: $2000. The Parks and Recreation events and programs handbook, called the “Toronto Fun Guide,” contains a vision statement developed at the top level of Parks and Recreation after amalgamation: “Toronto will be known by the world as the ‘City within a park’…..The world will envy and seek to emulate the healthy, productive and balanced lives the people of Toronto have achieved.”

Perhaps to promote this envy and emulation, the Parks Department removed existing Dufferin Grove Park signs (less than 10 years old and in very good shape) and replaced them with new “City within a Park” signs. The cost was $750 for each sign and $250 in labour to install it. We got two.


WHO’S IN CHARGE: For the staffing of the rink: Recreation, Tino DeCastro, supervisor. For ice maintenance: Brian Green, supervisor (this year -- usually a different supervisor every year). For the operating of the rink compressors: Dave Dermott, supervisor.

POWER TO RUN THE RINK, COST: $12,000 to $15,000 in a cold winter, $18,000 to $20,000 in a warm winter.

ZAMBONI, COST OF USE (responsibility: Brian Green): $8,465.60 (low estimate) to $29,210 (high estimate) a winter. Since our zambonis are inevitably aging cast-offs that are no longer wanted at City Hall or North York, we suspect the lower amount is maybe still too high. (The use-of-vehicle cost is supposed to reflect maintenance and replacement value.)

RINK OPERATOR, COST (responsibility: Brian Green): $22,556.26 per season. Although the most we would use a rink operator is 3 hours in one shift (plus one hour in the morning), we were again assigned a full-time operator this past winter. During his two days a week off, we were assigned another 20 hours (union contract), so that we ended up with a rink operator for 60 hours a week when we were only using him a maximum of 21 hours a week (often less). The pay rate is $20.19/ hour plus 33% benefits, for 14 weeks counting their training time.

RINK FOREPERSON, COST (responsibility: Brian Green): $4674 per season, for our share. Twice-daily visits. At our rink, the foreman often cleaned our ice in mid-morning, so we had an extra benefit from his visits. (Other rinks did not get this service.)

RINK REPAIRS, COST (responsibility: Dominic Fantauzzi): $????? The cost of seasonal repairs to lift gates, swing gates, hockey boards, and the zamboni is unknown.

RINK RECREATION STAFF, COST (responsibility: Tino DeCastro): $18,334 per season. 8 part-time staff (one person from 9-3, then two or occasionally three, in the evenings and on weekend shifts). The breakdown is: the person in charge of the building earns $9.27/ hour and the person assisting (e.g. the rink guards) earns $7.55. The benefits for recreation workers amount to 15%. (* Compare e.g. to litter-picking, $20.22 plus 38% benefits.)


So the rink operator, working three hours and being paid for 8, costs the city more than all the other on-site rink staff put together. In addition, if the cost of four daily idle hours were subtracted (still allowing a paid hour for the operator to eat a leisurely lunch, in addition to 3 hours of work), the city would save $11,278.13 a season, at our rink – enough to return the rink season to its traditional length (third week of November to the end of February, perhaps even adding on a reduced service in the first half of a cold March). We think the time for one rink operator to be shared between two rinks is long overdue.


WHO’S IN CHARGE: Maintenance, Mike Hindle, Supervisor.

RINK SNOW CLEARING, COST: $351.20. This past year, there were four visits to the rink to clear snow, costing $223.20 in labour plus $128 for the use of the snow plow.

SIDEWALK SNOW CLEARING, CHECKING, AND SALTING, COST: $3998.24. The clearing of the park perimeter sidewalks during four snow falls, requiring one foreperson plus two labourers, working 16 hours: $1272.24. Two labourers doing daily 20-minute checks for ice on the park perimeter sidewalks, for 100 days: $2726.05.


WHO’S IN CHARGE: Recreation, Tino DeCastro, Supervisor.

COST OF SPRING, SUMMER, FALL: $46,120 (mainly at $7.55/ hour plus 15% benefits. Highest recreation wage: $15.91/ hour -- very rare). Casual or part-time staff, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, (CUPE), Local 79.


The approximate cost for this graffiti removal is $180.00 This includes all labour, material & vehicles charges.

I hope this meets Jutta's needs.


>>> Tino DeCastro 03/25/02 11:49am >>> Hi, Don is it possible to raise a work order for the attached and obtain the necessary information , as per attachment.


Message from Bob Crump:


WHO'S IN CHARGE: It is no-one's job to monitor their condition. (Bob) Jutta - I question this statement - It is the responsibility of the Parks Maintenance operations to conduct inspections of their parks and to notify Technical Services regarding any work which is required to be performed on these items . Parks regularly delivers picnic tables and benches which are badly in need of repair to our carpentry shop for this work to be carried out. However, it is not the responsibility of Technical Services to conduct inspect all the benches and picnic tables in all of the parks in the former City of Toronto and East York. We rely on the inspections conducted by staff who are in these parks on a regular basis to flag these items for us. But if a park user or a grass cutter happens to notice broken slats or nails sticking out, they may be repaired by the maintenance workers (bench slats, protruding nails, leaning benches) or the technical services staff (painting, picnic table repair).

NEW BENCHES AND PICNIC TABLES: $0. Supervisor Dominic Fantauzzi warned that no new picnic tables or benches are being bought at the moment. Funds have been budgeted in 2002 for the repair of benches and picnic tables which have fallen into disrepair, and limited funds have been budgeted City wide for the purchase of benches to acccommodate requests from previous years which have not yet been installed. He spent $36,000 across the old city of Toronto last year, repairing picnic tables. But as the tables and benches age and rot and crumble, they may not be repaired. He said that park furniture damage needs to be reported and fixed fast, before the whole bench or table are too damaged to save. The City does have a Commemmorative bench program whereby citizens can sponsor the purchase and installation of a park bench on a concrete pad and have a plaque installed on the bench to comemmorate that passing of a loved one or any other significant event. Cost for a park bench with cast iron ends and hardwood slats is $2,140.00.

COST OF LAST WALKWAY PAVED: $3,300. City Councillor Mario Silva was able to arrange for park staff to use up an existing store of interlock bricks (so cost was only for labour, materials were free) at the southwest end of the park , in 1999.

COST OF OTHER PAVED WALKWAYS IN OUR PARK: No one can remember, it was too long ago. There are some older interlock walkways as well as short pieces of asphalt paths, which have held up well. But the main north-south public walkway connecting the two ends of Gladstone is entirely dirt. The diagonal walkway connecting lower Havelock to the Dufferin Mall main entrance is rutted dirt east of the Gladstone walkway. West of there, it is paved partly with asphalt, partly with interlock. The north walkway connecting the two sections of Dufferin Park Avenue is asphalt, with one section narrowing from erosion. North, east and south parkway entrances are particularly rutted and eroded, making it difficult or impossible for park users with wheelchairs or strollers to get into and around the park in winter, early spring, or at rainy times in other seasons. West entry points are paved.

CAPITAL BUDGET MONEY: Walkway improvements come under the capital budget, which at this moment has a waiting list of between 10 and 12 years for big-ticket items. Once you're at the top of the list, you're in good shape, though: McCormick Rec Centre needed a $300,000 mechanical upgrade and instead they're getting a $3 million overhaul.

COST OF PAVING OUR DIRT WALKWAYS: $14,700 for the main walkway, connecting Gladstone north and south (700 feet long, 6 feet wide, asphalt), $7,720 for the diagonal walkway from Havelock to the park mid-point where the paving starts (320 feet long, 6 feet wide, asphalt). Concrete paving costs $7 a square foot, interlock paving costs $9 a square foot, and asphalt paving costs $3.50 a square foot. It is sometimes possible to jump the capital budget queue; in this case, it may be necessary to try, since the park walkways are getting worse every year, at the same time as park foot traffic is steadily increasing.

WHO WOULD BE IN CHARGE OF GETTING US ON THE CAPITAL BUDGET LIST? (Bob) Jutta, in 2002 I have been allocated $37,500 for Hard Surfaces Preservation from the Capital Budget. This is to fund projects (walkway improvements, tennis court resurfacings , interlocking paver repairs and concrete sidewalk repairs for the South District , which includes the former City of Toronto and East York) which would cost less than $50,000, the budget amount which would allow a project to qualify as a capital project in its own right.. Requests for use of these funds are sent to me from the 12 park supervisors in our District , and I try to distribute these funds as equitalbly as possible. Currently, I have a list of "urgent" requests for this funding which total over $365,000. Dufferin Grove is not on the list, but I can add it to the list of projects which I am currently not able to fund this year.

SOCCER IRRIGATION SYSTEM, COST: $333 per year. There is an irrigation system buried just under the soccer field, which works well and requires little repair. The watering schedule is set according to the weather, and a plumber does yearly maintenance and any repairs as required. The irrigation system controller communicates with a central computer at the South District's main Parks yard, which is connected to a weather station on its roof. The computer adjusts watering schedules based on evapotranspiration rates ( a calculation which combines the amount of rainfall which has recently fallen, any wind which has occurred and which would dry out the soil, and the prevalent temperatures which have been recorded) . The computer also notes any abberations in expected flow rates in any of the irrigation zones, and shuts down any irrigation zones which experience an unexpected spike - indicating a leak. A message ios left with the plumbing foreperson who monitors the system daily, so that he can dispatch a crew to investigate the cause of any such leaks and effect necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

ZAMBONI, COST OF USE (responsibility: Brian Green): $8,465.60 (low estimate) to $29,210 (high estimate) a winter. Since our zambonis are inevitably aging cast-offs that are no longer wanted at City Hall or North York, we suspect the lower amount is maybe still too high. (The use-of-vehicle cost is supposed to reflect maintenance and replacement value.) Jutta - annual cost to maintain the ice resurfacing machine which was used at Dufferin Grove this past winter (labour , parts and contracted services ) was $7,745.44 in 2001. This figure does not include depreciation of the machine, which costs around $61,000 to purchase new. If the machines last ten years, theoretically the City should be setting aside $6,100 annually in a reserve account to purchase a replacement for the machine when it eventually is beyond the point of economical repair, which would bring the annual cost of the machine to around $13,845. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to fund the replacement program to this level, so that many pieces of equipment are held onto longer than we would prefer to and replacements are more or less funded on the basis of greatest need from any funds which the Department can afford to budget for this purpose each year. the need to replace Zambonis is weighed against the need to replace all other vehicles and equipment in our fleet which support our operations. Just over $5,000,000 is available in 2002 to replace vehicles and equipment in a total City wide fleet worth over $68,000,000, of which $16,000,000 is overdue for replacement based on their estimated useful life spans.

posted October 6, 2006

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Quick Page Table of Contents



From the Park Newsletter, 2005:

MEDIA WATCH: IS THE PARK RUN BY VOLUNTEERS? From time to time there is some news about the park in the papers. Last month it popped up in both the Globe and Mail and the National Post, and NOW Magazine ran a piece by park regular Mike Smith. Smith reported on a City-initiated meeting that almost filled St.Mary’s High School cafeteria on November 7, to consider how the park is organized, and he gave a rundown on the benefits or drawbacks of various volunteer structures for running a park.

What was not discussed at that meeting – and therefore not evident in the NOW article – is the fact that Dufferin Grove Park is not run by volunteers. It’s run by park staff, i.e. 12 part-timers now that the winter season has begun. In general the park staff try to work so closely with park users that when somebody like Georgie Donais comes along and offers to build a cob courtyard, their answer is: How can we help make it happen?

Lily Weston laid the groundwork

And not only big projects get that treatment from the park staff. The staff are so willing to experiment that almost any approach, any idea, can be tried out if it has a champion (adult or child) and if the time is right. But of course the park also has its regular seasons and routines and programs.

Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, and his manager James Dann and a small list of other city staff, collaborated with an outsider, Jutta Mason, over years to allow the existing staff culture to develop. The leading idea for the park was friendship: how can people find friends in a city of so many strangers? How can public space become a place of introduction, where neighbours can watch and become familiar with one another across class, race, money or age boundaries? How can a park be staffed in such a way that neighborly gifts can be magnified?

The answer is, with a lot of clean-up work, day after day. The busier the park gets, the more messes there are to deal with, both of litter and of human troubles. The park staff work hard to create and keep an orderly park, for the various neighborhood dramas to play out. Keeping the park sweet is a task resembling an iceberg, with only the tip being obvious, but a big support section underneath (where you can’t see it very well). The staff’s work ranges from cleaning the toilets to programming the web site, and from cooking huge suppers to going to court for vandalism follow-up. Often the staff have to run pretty fast to keep up, but they usually seem to be cheerful anyway. It’s good work! And their close collaboration with park users is often surprising and interesting.

Sometimes the park staff are a bit mystified, though, when they hear talk about how the park is run by volunteers. It isn’t. That’s the beauty of your taxes: one way to put taxes to good use is to pay people for doing good work.


1. Every day running of the wading pool which includes:

Director instructing staff 2006

- Sweeping out and hosing down the pool

- Filling the pool

- Monitoring the chlorine and pH levels of the water

- Supervising the pool at all times

- Liaison with the many visiting day camps

- Approaching new playground/pool/sand-pit users, making sure strangers feel comfortable

- Introducing people to each other

- Maintaining and replacing the water toys

- Putting out, collecting and replacing toys, chess and checkers, books and magazines around the pool

From the Park Newsletter:

WADING POOL HOURS, THE SANDPIT, AND OTHER PARK FUN 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 par 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.

From the Park Newsletter:

SAND PIT AND PLAYGROUND RULES OF CONDUCT: Some new little signs have gone up in the playground, saying "adults must be accompanied by a child under twelve." There's a park by-law that prevents teenagers, for example, from taking over a playground as the St.Mary's students sometimes do. (Some teenagers think they're still kids, but they are too big and rowdy to play alongside little kids.) So - if you're there with kids and there are some 15-year olds taking up all the swings (or drinking in the rain shelter) you don't have to grin and bear it. Point out the signs to them, and if they have trouble grasping the meaning, speak to the park staff.

Note also that the sand pit has real shovels in it because it was intended as a play area for older children. Little kids can play there too, but if their caregivers are anxious about their safety, please remove the little ones to the small sand box. At the same time, any children who use shovels carelessly should be asked to be more careful, and if there is still a concern, they should have their shovel removed. Staff will help, but if no staff are there, any adult nearby should get involved. Happily, the sand pit has just passed its twelfth year, with a very impressive safety record, because most kids are unbelievably smart, and they want to play, not to hurt each other. Also lots of adults know how to prevent trouble. And then there are about fourteen invisible guardian angels on the lookout as well - how else to explain that the sandpit works so well?)

Zio the playground lead staff

2. Upkeep of playground which includes:

- checking playground for hazards, removing any dangers or putting in work orders

- weekly digging under all climbers to soften the ground to CSA specifications

- litter-picking twice daily or more

- sorting and replacing playground toys

- introducing new people to their neighbours or playmates (if kids)

3. Up-keep of the gardens, composts, and park trees which includes working with volunteers to do:

Jenny 2006

- Planting

- Weeding

- Mulching trees that show signs of stress

- Building composts

- Picking litter in all the (9) community gardens (Local 416 won’t)

- Watering, including watering trees during drought periods

- Seeing to the continuous up-keep of the garden fences

- Giving out information about the Sunday “garden parties,” giving out plant information

From the Park Newsletter:

TREES IN DROUGHT After we noticed that the only new tree planted by Forestry in many years seems to be dying, park staff and volunteers have gone into tree-rescue mode. In the second week of August the wading pool staff put garden hoses on in the park around the clock, trickling water beside tree after tree, focusing on the young trees which are more vulnerable. If you see that a puddle is collecting around one tree, feel free to nudge the hose to a nearby tree – we’re lucky we have enough water in the Toronto water system to save the trees.

4. Upkeep of park and spring fall rink house cleaning/organizing which includes:

Corey 2006

- Monitoring state of paths, trees and park furniture and alerting the city to areas that need attention, also working with volunteers to do minor repairs and painting if Maintenance can’t get around to it

- In fall, readying the park for winter by cleaning and organizing sheds; in spring, clearing up the winter’s jumble in the rink house and getting all supplies, equipment ready for warm weather

5. Running the rink, which includes:

- Daily cleaning and upkeep of every part of the rink-house

- Daily attention to the state of the ice and upkeep around the outside rink area

- Phoning in and following up on work-orders related to all aspects of the building and the park (127 work orders called in followed up in 2005)

- Inventory of all supplies and ordering and or buying new ones

- Updating the message and getting the information for the rink hotline

- Enforcing the rules of the rink

- Co-ordinating the efforts of various volunteers

- Assisting with ice maintenance

- Administering first aid

6. Doing a rink cluster experiment which includes:

- visiting every rink in the city to find out how things are run in other places and start communicating with other rink staff

- specifically visiting the two closest rinks (Campbell and Wallace) on a regular basis

- Getting to know the on-site staff at those two rinks, some staff training there

- Setting up regular barrel fires, with free hot dogs and marshmallows, at both those rinks

- Running a free skating class at Campbell

- Helping to run Women’s shinny hours smoothly at Wallace

- Following up on youth behaviour at Wallace

From the Park Newsletter:

BAD LANGUAGE AND OTHER SINS AT THE RINK “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That’s how the saying goes, but at our rink there is a by-law against swearing, and another one against making threats. Here are some of the other rules: lounging around in the rink house corners trying to look like a gangster, isn’t allowed, and neither is lengthy public kissing or hugging with one’s sweetheart. People are not allowed to get into a fight, and they can’t urge other people to fight each other either, no matter how “Canadian” that kind of approach is in hockey. People can’t use the front entryway as a place to cluster with their friends and make loud jokes or say rude things to each other. On the ice, people can’t smoke (anything), or play bumper cars with the learn-to-skate chairs, or skate under the lift gate when it’s being raised for the zamboni (it can fall down if it’s unsecured, and squash a person). Groups can’t play chasing games on the pleasure-skating rink unless the rink has no other skaters at all, and older shinny hockey players are not allowed to play hockey during the younger kids’ shinny time. Above all, nobody can tell a staff person to get lost if they ask them to follow the rules.

The penalties are: for breaking one of the rules, one or two warnings, then out for the day. For refusing a staff request: out for the day right away, no warnings. For refusing a request to leave for the day: out for many days, until the person books an interview with Tino DeCastro, our area parks supervisor. If they miss the interview: out for the season. In some cases of rule-breaking, the bad guy/gal may be asked to work some community hours (picking litter or washing dishes or shovelling snow) to get back into the staff’s good graces.

And if a rink user has been banned and then comes back after the ban is over, the rule is: no hard feelings. The returning rink user starts again with a clean slate. Over the years, there have been many people who got in trouble at the rink, sometimes in a lot of trouble. Then they grew up a bit. Many came back to play hockey to their heart’s content. Some have become great friends of the rink and are a pleasure to be with. They are the deep-down reason for this rink – showing that people can surprise each other, and that ill will can turn into respect and even friendship, more often than one would think.


1. Running the playground food cart which includes

- Preparing coffee, lemonade, cookies, salads and any special foods, all of this in the zamboni kitchen at the rink house, following public health rules

- Bringing down the food cart, setting out the food

- Washing all dishes and keeping the outdoor cob kitchen and food cart in a good state of cleanliness

- Using the food cart/ outdoor cob kitchen as a “front” to get to know park users, give information

- Using the food cart as a placement for youth (and sometimes adults) to do their court-ordered community service hours

2. Organizing weekly community supper which includes:

Eroca leading kids' dancing after supper 2006

- Planning a menu

- Sourcing and purchasing food

- Cooking for large volumes of people

- Setting up tables, chairs, and all necessary dining implements, toys and balls for kids

- Serving a large volume of people, introducing new people to their neighbours

From the Park Newsletter:

Here’s how becoming a more active park friend works: if you want to put something into the park that isn’t there now, or help out with some existing element you like – a new garden, an old garden, a concert, a cricket mat, a playground cob wall – find a park staff person and talk to them about your idea. (The spring-summer staff are Zio Hersh, Matt Leitold, Dan Malloy, Eroca Nicols, Caitlin Shea, Mayssan Shuja Uddin, Mary Sylwester, and Amy Withers). If you can’t find the staff around the park, you can leave them a message at 416 392-0913, and one of them will call you back. Or you can e-mail them at The staff will try to remove any blocks you might encounter, and introduce you to other park friends. You can go ahead and try the project you’re inspired to do – just remember to start small. Then if your project doesn’t work – no problem. But if your talents bear fruit, you can keep growing what you’ve begun, maybe with other park friends who want to help you.

3. Running Pizza days which includes:

Mayssan and visiting kids 2006

- Purchasing cheese and sauce

- Preparing pizza dough

- Loading the oven and lighting a fire several hours in advance

- Bringing out tables and keeping them clean, keeping the whole operation within public health guidelines

- Setting up the play areas for kids

- Rolling out dough

- Bringing out all pizza supplies as well as cookies and refreshments

- Manning the pizza oven and helping people make their pizzas, including helping kids pick their own toppings in the children’s gardens

- Introducing people to each other

From the Park Newsletter:

Pizza days – during June, pizza days will be on Wednesdays from 12 to 2 and Sundays from 1 to 3. For $2 a portion, you can buy a small lump of organic pizza dough, sauce, and cheese, and make your own pizza in the oven (staff help you bake it). You can pick toppings in the park gardens to put on as well, or bring extra toppings from home. A very nice way to meet new neighbours or get together with friends.

If you want to include pizza at the oven in a birthday party, that’s possible on Sundays between 11.30 and 1 and from 3 to 4. You can book it with park staff Mayssan Shuja at 416 392-0913. The staff cost is $36 extra on top of the pizza cost of $2 per pizza. If you have more than forty people, that will need an extra staff person for another $18. To find out more, call the park or go to the web site at and click on “bake ovens and food.”

Picnics: now that the weather is warm again, the park is sometimes full of picnics and family celebrations. There are plenty of picnic tables – feel free to move them to where you need them, but if you take them far from where they were, please move them back afterwards (especially tables taken from the oven and the wading pool area).

4. Looking after the rink house, which includes:

Aileen and youth helpers 1998

- Administering fire permits, birthday parties and other special rink season events

- Putting out, collecting and replacing toys, chess and checkers, books and magazines in the rinkhouse

- Approaching new rink users, making sure strangers feel comfortable

- Administering local youth hockey permits and co-ordinating all other permits

- Running the zamboni café, so there’s cheap, nutritious food but also as a “front” for staff to make connections with youth, people with young children, kids at the rink on their own, new rink users, etc., also as an information post

- Basic every day running of the zamboni snack bar includes: Preparing coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, mini-pizzas perogies, soup and any special foods

- Washing a lot of dishes and keeping the kitchen and snack bar in a good state of cleanliness to meet public health standards

- Friday Night Suppers at the rinkhouse – to build a stronger neighborhood but also to support families with young children

From the Park Newsletter:

FOOD COSTS:The price list at the Zamboni café reflects how much money we need to pay for the materials that went into the food, plus a bit extra for other park uses. But if your grocery money is tight, but you and your kids are hungry after skating, even the cheap snack bar food prices may add up too fast.

If you’re hungry, but you can’t pay as much for the snack bar food, pay less. Park staff also like to do trades – if you can do something for the park (help shovel after a snowstorm, wash dishes, sort tools in the tool cupboard, break up wooden skids for the bread ovens) the park staff will tell you your money won’t work at the snack bar, and you have to eat for free. That goes for kids too.

On the other hand, if you find the food very cheap and good and think it should cost more, pay more. Every penny goes to the park.

From the Park Newsletter:


The rink is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., shinny hockey on the north pad, pleasure-skating only on the south pad until the rink house closes. After the rink house closes, there is shinny hockey (including permits) on both sides until 11 p.m. See the shinny schedule at the centre of this newsletter. After 11 p.m. the gates are locked.

The “Zamboni Café” snack bar is serving even better food than last year; the wood stove is going and the kids’ storybooks are on the shelf beside it; the zamboni’s snow hills by the basketball court are good for climbing and making snow sculptures; the campfire will be lit outside by the rink every weekend, with benches all around; the NHL Player’s Association skates are available for borrowing (bring good I.D.); Mayssan’s skating lessons began on December 15, with a hockey option for those who want – the joys of winter are at the park.

From the Park Newsletter:


Friday Night Suppers have resumed (6 to 7.30 p.m. on Fridays at the rink house, $6 for the main plate, no reservations necessary, $1 less if you bring your own dishes). Also, seven days a week, the “Zamboni Café” snack bar will be serving substantial winter soups, sandwiches with park oven bread, organic hot dogs, mini-pizzas, and various sweets including park cookies. On weekends there may be more.


1. Skate lending:

- Taking an inventory of the initial skate and hockey equipment donation

- Spray-painting and numbering all equipment

- Setting up shelving to keep the new equipment

- Developing a system for skate rental

- Contacting all schools and daycares in the neighbourhood in order to inform them about our new wealth

- Making signs and alerting people to the existence of the new equipment

- Collecting collateral and administrating the loans

- Taking continuous stock of the equipment -- skates needing sharpening, laces, insoles, sticks need replacement – and keeping the rental room in a state of good order (since it’s also the water-heater room for the zamboni)

2. Year-round running of a park farmers’ market which includes:

- Upkeep and purchase of vending tables

- Liaison with the market manager, public health, by-law and various other inspectors/officials

- Helping with the weekly set-up and take-down of the market

- Giving information about the market throughout the rest of the week

- Running a special market snack bar with additional food

- Running a bread vending table

- Baking bread in the outdoor ovens, including teaching community people who want to learn about outdoor bread ovens

3. Helping with the cob courtyard structure which includes:

- Learning about every aspect of building with cob (and participating)

- Helping to set up a shed and a “yard” for the building project

- Keeping that area clean and orderly

- Supplying the volunteers with food and refreshments

- Supplying childcare for the volunteers

- Co-ordinating the volunteer efforts

- Checking up on the structure on a daily basis once the building was completed

- Repairing or co-ordinating the repairs due to weather and vandalism

4. Supervising park fire permits (174 in 2005), which includes:

Anna 2006

- booking permits, scheduling and carrying out fire safety training sessions

-monitoring the condition of the firesites, removing debris

- supplying the permit holders with water and shovels

- monitoring their fire set-up, reviewing safety rules if necessary

- follow up to make sure everything went well, fire was put out, park equipment was returned

From the Park Newsletter:


The park has a year-round fire permit, so gathering around a campfire with your friends is pretty easy. These are the rules: if you want to borrow the permit, you need to have a little campfire training session with one of the park staff, during staff hours (staff always stay late on Wednesdays and Thursdays, if daytimes are no good for you). It takes about 15 minutes to go over everything. At that time you can also let the staff know where you plan to have the fire (there are three possible fire sites).

You need to bring your own firewood but the staff can usually give you some kindling if you like. They'll give you two pails of water and a shovel, which have to be returned to the rink house at the end of your fire. The person who signs the permit takes full legal responsibility for any injury -- there's a waiver that you'll have to sign. (But people are pretty smart about fires – in 11 years of frequent park campfires, we’ve not yet had an injury.) We ask you for a donation of $10, just to cover staff time. To book, call the park at 416 392-0913.

5. Putting up and maintaining the yurt as a gathering place and reading tent, which includes:

- Acquiring expertise in the obscure art of setting up a nomadic desert dwelling (through much trial and error)

- Maintaining the structure through rains

- Decorating the yurt

- Fixing parts of the structure, from sag or vandalism damage

- Cleaning it out on a daily basis, sorting books, keeping chairs, storage boxes, etc. in good order

- Taking it down, drying out the felts, storing it

6. Liaison with special programs externally generated:

- school picnics (5)

- Toronto Youth council picnic

- Art day camps (4)

- Rehearsals (19)

- Bake-oven picnics (24) and pizza parties (34)

- Soccer club car washes (14)

- Ice hockey permits including single-occasion and school permits (60)


Mary and Ted staff the Tasting Fair 2006

Hosting/liaison for 2005 special public events which included:

February: Bike's on Ice Race, “Puppets on Ice”

March: Two cob information/preparation Friday Night Suppers, one gardening friends Friday Night Supper

April: April Fools’ park friends appreciation supper, Anne and Ron’s park oven matza bake day for Passover, Earth Day cob wall picnic and movie night

May: David Miller's 20 minute makeover day, annual lawyers’ charity ball hockey tournament

June: Laura Repos’ Little Folk Festival (big), Clay and Paper Theatre’s Day of Delight, Cooking Fire Theatre Festival (five days), Refugee Camp Awareness Concert, Councillor Adam Giambrone's Summerfest, Community BBQ regarding youth prisons, Career Fair

July: Dusk Dances (7 days) including open-air films, "Walk a Mile in her Shoes" walkathon and concert put on by the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, “The Space Between” Clay and Paper theatre production (2 weekends)

August: “Dufferin Groove” shinny hockey players annual music jam, “The Space Between” Clay and Paper theatre production (4 days)

September: Morris Dancer's Ale and dance, Havelock Street Fair, Midwife Picnic, Cob Wall Celebration (big), “Pugaluk” parade (pug dogs)

October: Slow Food and Farmers’ market second annual “Tasting Fair” Native Child and Family Pow Wow, Night of Dread Parade

From the Park Newsletter:

FARMERS’ MARKET TASTING FAIR Back in the second year of our market, in the fall, we celebrated the market with a “tasting fair.” Various Toronto chefs cooked some delicious small item with each farmer’s produce. The fair was very popular but also quite a bit of work, so we didn’t repeat it the following year. Now that the market is soon beginning its fourth year, it’s time to celebrate again. On Sunday October 2, from 1 to 4 p.m., we’ll have the second-ever tasting fair, $2 per item (each one tastier than the next). The only difference this time is that the food will be prepared by various renowned good cooks from this neighbourhood and from the farms – some chefs and some ordinary folks with an uncommonly deft touch with food. The tasting fair will be outside along the side of the rink house (inside if it rains).


- supervising the park, tracking bad behaviour

- following up park user complaints and concerns

- liaison with St.Mary’s School and Kent Senior School staff and students

- daily contact with basketball players, checking with them for trouble before it starts, peacemaking in summer, working with police if necessary

- counselling and troubleshooting in winter with rink youth, liaison with Dufferin Mall Youth services for counselling

- supervising court-ordered community hours permits (37)

- supervising park youth doing hours for trouble they’ve made

From the Park Newsletter:

LOST SOULSEvery few years the park seems to get one or two new lost souls. Being strangers at the beginning, they often worry people. Sometimes the police are called for strange behaviour, but the police can’t usually do much about it, other than taking the person out for an hour or a day. The park staff are equipped to follow up over the long term, however, and so are some park friends. If a park stranger frightens or concerns you with strange behaviour, try to find a park staff person. They’ll find out more about the person, and see if there are ways to fix any problems the person may be causing. If you have a cell phone, you can also call the rink house – 416 392-0913. Dufferin Grove Park is solid enough that it can carry a few lost souls at a time, with some good effort.

From the Park Newsletter:


A friend of the playground sent in a question: what can be done about high school students in the playground at lunchtime? (Associated problems: bad language, fights, marijuana, sex, just too many big bodies on the play structures, etc.)

The fact is, there is a by-law: playgrounds are reserved for children 12 and under and their caregivers.

Every year in spring we ask the principal at St.Mary's Catholic High School to make an announcement reminding the students of this (they can go anywhere else in this beautiful 14-acre park). One of the St.Mary's teachers told us that the playground rule has been announced at the school this year too.

Now for the follow-up. Please pass it on to other parents – the playground is off limits for high school students on their lunch hour. If any students still come to the playground, caregivers can ask them kindly to leave (remember, some of the younger teenagers haven't figured out yet that they're not little any more – it's a shock).

If the students don't leave, or they're rude, the phone number to call (if you have a cell phone) is 416 393-5528, press "0" and explain the problem. Or pick up your child and drop in at the school office (across from the north end of the park). The school has been very good about sending a teacher out immediately to follow up, whenever anyone asks for assistance. The park’s staffing budget is very limited at this time of year but a staff person will come in at 11.30 weekdays (the high school lunch time) while school is in session, and do chores near the playground (and reinforce the rules).


- Learning first HTML then wiki

- Updating the Rinks, Sports and Neighbourhood sections of the website

staff meeting 2006

Cinergy Plan Overview

September 13, 2005

Cinergy - The mysterious ten million dollar plan for city rinks

Dear rink users,

As many of you know, Parks and Recreation staff and rink users collaborate very closely to run Dufferin Rink. This co-operative arrangement was worked out by trial-and-error during more than a decade, and it’s not fully recognized by the upper management staff at City Hall. However it’s recognized by skaters, who have voted with their feet by coming to Dufferin Rink in large numbers. And it’s recognized by those City staff people who look after the rink and Dufferin Grove Park directly. Rink users do practical things to help the rink run well, and the city staff who know the rink take note of that.

In February 2005 some strangers came to the rink with clipboards. They wore badges that said “Cinergy,” and they said they were checking how well the city rinks work. They said they didn’t know much beyond their checklist, and so couldn’t answer our questions.

A Google web search turned up the information that Cinergy is a giant American company established in 1993 and specializing in “energy retrofits.” A search of Toronto’s municipal web site brought up the name “Vestar,” a subsidiary of Cinergy, in City Council minutes. It appeared that our city government had hired Vestar/Cinergy to do a $10 million retrofit project involving all the city rinks and arenas. In 2000, City Council voted for an environmental plan (EP), meant to reduce community-wide carbon monoxide emissions by 20% by 2005 (from 1990 levels), and also to reduce energy use by 15% in all its departments. So the Parks and Recreation rinks and arenas are meant to be part of this plan.

We found the “request for proposal” number and we read that the City of Toronto is taking out a $10.2 million loan to pay Vestar/Cinergy for this arena/ rink energy-efficiency. The company told city staff that the arenas and rinks would be so much more efficient after the project is done, that the money saved city-wide on energy and water operating costs will allow the City to pay back the $10 million loan completely in only eight years.

That sounds almost too good to be true. But the City’s planners are so sure the plan will work, that they’ve arranged for Parks and Recreation to pay back the loan using more than $1 million of its operating funds every year for eight years until all the money is paid back.

Operating funds are what pays the staff to run the rinks, among other things. So anything that reduces the funds to pay rink staff rings lots of alarms – even if there is a golden promise of lots of money to be saved by and by. What if it’s pie in the sky? Then the rink season will be shortened because of lack of money to pay staff. That wouldn’t be the first time. But this could be even worse than in other years, and for eight years at least.

The City has tried to shrink the rink season lots of times before. The worst year was 2001, when City Council voted to open the outdoor rinks for only ten weeks. They wanted to take the money they saved on rink wages to hire three new parking ticket officers. (Parking ticket income is a golden goose for Toronto.) But we said – what’s the good of having all these wonderful outdoor artificial ice rinks in this northern country, and keeping them locked except for ten weeks a year?

That year we had to work very hard with phone calls and e-mails, to persuade city councillors that ten weeks was too short. We carried the day. But this time – if Parks and Recreation will have to use up a million dollars or more every year from its operating funds to pay off that big loan, and let’s say the money saved on hydro and water doesn’t cover the loan payments after all – opening the rinks as soon as skating weather arrives could be even more difficult.

A lot is riding on the math that went into the Vestar/Cinergy energy retrofit project.

The Math:

The city department in charge of rink buildings is “Facilities and Real Estate.” In spring I called their facilities supervisor, who oversees all building-related work at our park. He said he had heard that something was up but didn’t know details. As far as he knew, the project was being managed through the '''Policy and Development Division'''.

We’ve had unhappy experiences trying to get information from that division before, so to save time we sent an information request to the City of Toronto Corporate Access office. They must comply with the freedom of information laws, which means that they actually have a deadline for answering a question (30 days, give or take a month), whereas if you approach the departments directly, there seems to be no deadline. They’re usually too occupied with meetings to answer questions from outsiders like us – especially if we want details, rather than just a reassuring pat on the head.

On May 11 2005 we submitted Access Request 05-1379. We asked to see Request for Proposal (RFP) #9119-03-7275, the document referred to in the City Council minutes, which Cinergy/Vestar filled out to get the contract. We also asked for a city council report entitled “A framework for establishing an Energy Retrofit Program and Financing Strategy.” (That report was already in the public domain, but the City’s web site doesn’t work very well, and we heard about it but couldn’t find it ourselves.) Since the council minutes had referred to low-cost loans from the “Green Municipal Investment Fund,” we also asked for a copy of the loan agreement. And finally, “any final or interim document from Vestar/Cinergy giving recommendations for City Arenas and Artificial Ice Rink energy savings.” This was the one we really wanted to see – would their advice make any sense? Would their suggestions plausibly get near the energy-savings targets the city needed to meet -- $10 million plus?

On June 9 2005, the City sent us the city council report, and said we could also get a copy of the RFP if we sent them $16.60 for photocopying charges. As for the loan agreement, they couldn’t show it to us: “no record exists, as the agreement has not been completed.”

That was worrisome. In the council minutes, we’d read that the green Municipalities loan had already been approved, in 2003. This was the kind of contradictory record-keeping we were afraid of.

As for the content of the Vestar/Cinergy recommendations, the City said the company had to be consulted, because disclosure of these details might be unwelcome to them. A decision would be issued on July 9.

We sent in our cheque for the RFP (request for proposal) photocopies. But the RFP turned out to be mostly blank – lacking almost all the details that a company might need to put in a bid, and certainly telling us nothing about Vestar/Cinergy’s proposals. Missing information included 1. the list of sites to receive upgrades; 2. the list of measures to be taken; 3. the pay rates for senior staff working on the project; 4. the base utility data that would be used to measure the project’s success.

The city council report was more informative. It said that the Energy Retrofit Project would be managed as part of the Parks and Recreation Capital Program. The whole project would cost $10.2 million, with $1.2 million going to Vestar/Cinergy in 2004, $5.9 million in 2005, and $3.1 million in 2006. $2.5 million of the loan to pay Vestar/Cinergy would come from a low-interest Federation of Canadian Municipalities loans, the rest from regular debt. Vestar/Cinergy had agreed to insure the City to cover any shortfall in the predicted cost savings to the City, for a premium of $667,000 plus PST. So that’s the most the City could lose on the deal. That should have been reassurance, for our worry that the rink season would be reduced for many years, on the grounds of a shortfall in energy savings. But there was a problem.

Funny Money:

The city council report gave a baseline number against which to measure energy savings (or any shortfall): “In 2001, the total water and energy consumption for the City’s 100 arenas was 106,180.4 Mwh with a total cost of $7.09 million.”

I asked every city staff I knew what those numbers might be based on. Nobody knew. Then I got a chart, sent anonymously, showing the City records for its 2003 electricity bills for rinks. The chart is very odd. Both the price of electricity and the kilowatt hours to run the various rinks are highly inconsistent. For example, two rinks were put down for similar amounts of electricity use, but one rink was charged $102,003, the other $45,983. One double rink was listed as using a quarter of the power of a single pad rink. There is no rhyme or reason in the chart, and in some cases the energy uses listed were far too high, perhaps because the power bill included buildings unrelated to the rink. If a chart like this one was used to arrive at the energy use numbers cited in the city council report, the baseline would be meaningless. There would be no basis for comparing the “after” to the “before.”

A very bad sign. On the other hand, it was heartening that the council report showed some attempts to be cautious. It recommended that the Vestar/Cinergy contract require the company to “conduct feasibility studies and provide detailed concept reports for each measure for the City’s approval. The concept report will outline, in detail, the costs, savings, operating costs and maintenance requirements for each measure. Prior to moving to the engineering and implementation stage, the City must approve a concept report for each site.”

Brave talk. But who will get to read those details? Not us. On July 11 2005, the City’s Corporate Access office informed me that we will not be allowed to see any interim recommendations or reports from Vestar/Cinergy. “Access denied” – on the grounds that making such material public “could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position” of the company.

The company will presumably have to show their recommendations directly to some city staff at some point. But to who? The city council report said that Vestar/Cinergy would collaborate with the lead city staff to “develop a communication program for….Parks and Recreation staff in order to create awareness” of the retrofit program. But any City staff whom I asked about the project – including the electrical supervisor, including the rink supervisors and the rink manager – seems as much in the dark as we are.

So a few of us began all over again. On August 17 2005 we sent in a new request to the City’s Corporate Access office, for the completed RFP, with the contract details agreed on by Vestar/Cinergy – in case they hadn’t realized we wanted the RFP with information when they sent us the empty form the first time. That’s another $5 and another 30 days. On the same day we sent a $25 cheque to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, appealing the City’s “access denied” decision about letting us read Vestar/ Cinergy’s first round of recommendations. That appeal can take many months.

Then we looked for more city council minutes and reports, to see if we had missed things in there.

We had. '''Clause No.11 of Report No.4 of the Policy and Finance Committee''' was adopted by City Council without amendment at its meetings on May 18-20, 2004. Included in the report was this: “Vestar Ltd. will be responsible for all design, engineering, construction, project management and '''monitoring and verification of savings'''.”

So at the conclusion of the mysterious recommendations and alterations, which the public is not allowed to know in any detail, Vestar/Cinergy itself will collect all the numbers and judge whether its work is a success. If the city’s baseline data are artificially inflated by the numerous flaws in the city’s current energy use chart, and if Vestar/Cinergy insists the energy savings are there, who’s to argue? But if the Parks and Recreation operating budget turns out to be unaccountably short for eight years, there’s one way to make the energy savings really come true: reduce the rink season drastically. Presto. Less power use, just like they said, and more staffing money freed up to pay back the big debt.

The completed agreement between the City of Toronto and Vestar/Cinergy (now renamed CINERGY Solutions) came in the mail in September. It had much more detail.

See: correspondence with the City to get to the bottom of this puzzle: is this a better project than it appears to be?)

CINERGY Correspondence Diary

September 16, 2005, letter to Brenda Librecz, General Manager, City Of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation:

“….our little research group, CELOS, would like to request that you carry out some “due diligence” that seems to be missing, on the city rinks/arenas energy retrofit contract with Cinergy/Vestar – before you sign off on it. I enclose the results of our research so far, plus the questions that we feel need to be answered. It may be that this project has the potential of being a giant headache for the City, not only in terms of more bad publicity, but also in terms of its impact on your division. Your front-line staff also seem to have major misgivings – insofar as they even know about the project – and the need to follow up on this may be rather urgent by now. Please answer these questions:

A. Utility cost details

1. What is the base utility data that’s being used in this project? (We need to see the detailed records – are they better than my chart?)

2. How were these numbers obtained?

3. How will the individual rinks/arenas’ utility costs be measured as the project goes on?

B. Repayment details:

1. When does Parks and Recreation begin paying back the debt for the Vestar project?

2. What is the yearly repayment schedule as of now?

3. How will the arenas’ repayment portion be calculated? Have the arenas signed on of their own free will, or did the City just require it of them? Or did the arenas (perhaps) promote this Vestar plan? If any of the Board of Management arenas opt out of the retrofit project, how will that affect Vestar’s $10.2 million contract?

C. Data from the Energy and Waste Management Office (EWMO):

(This unit within the Business and Strategic Innovation Section of the Facilities and Real Estate Division of the Corporate Services Department is responsible for the management of the City’s energy retrofit programs.)

1. The energy and water services contract between the City of Toronto and Vestar.

2. How exactly does the EWMO track and monitor Parks and Recreation’s water and energy usage?

3. Vestar’s feasibility studies and concept reports for each measure the company intends to carry out.

D. Financial data referred to in council minutes:

1. The record of the “many” water and energy efficiency improvements the city has previously completed (referred to in the Policy and Finance report on this project), with the savings resulting from each of these improvements.

2. The “detailed business case and energy audit report” required for the Vestar project at the time of the City’s annual budget review process, and also any quarterly variance reporting on this project. One would expect these reports to include baseline costs, projected and actual costs for the quarter, and estimated actuals to year-end, as well as “any remedial action that might be necessary before year-end to bring program in line with budgeted figures.”

3. The Commissioner of Corporate Services’ annual report to Council on reductions in energy use for retrofit projects.

4. Parks and Recreation’s quarterly report on energy consumption and associated savings for the four quarters in 2004 and three in 2005.

It’s our view that this due diligence research is vital in order to evaluate the merits of the rink energy retrofit contract with Vestar/ Cinergy. No work should proceed and no final contract should be signed until the General Manager of Parks, Recreation and Forestry can assemble the answers to the questions above.

Sept. 30, 2005:

letter to Elena Gruia, Project Manager, Energy and Waste Management, Corporate Services Department, Facilities and Real Estate Division. “….When we spoke on the phone yesterday, I said I would write to you about the reasons why we'd like to meet with you. "We" is a small research group CELOS, Centre for Local Research into Public Space, based at Dufferin Grove Park. We've been trying to find more information about the $10.3 million Cinergy rink energy retrofit project for some time. When Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Librecz was meeting with us recently, she mentioned that PFR have not yet "signed off" on the Cinergy project. But then we read the agreement (obtained after two tries, through Freedom of Information), which says the contract with Cinergy was signed on Dec.8 2004. We're confused: is PFR sign-off different than the signing of the agreement? There are confusing elements in this contract which we need to understand better. I asked you yesterday who the main PFR staff person is, working with you on the Cinergy Project. If this information is public, could you let me know? I think a meeting between our group and that PFR staff person and yourself could perhaps clear up a number of puzzles. Hopefully, the discussion would set our minds at ease about the possibility that PFR could lose some of their operating funds each year for seven years if the project does not pan out.

Here are some of our concerns:

- It appears that the City could end up having to pay more than the $10.3 million in the contract (referred to as an "estimated cost" in Article 9.01 of the agreement), and there are other puzzling elements to the math.

- The "City representative" has many chances to stumble in this project: any delay of more than 15 days in his/her examination of the very numerous design issues and specific construction proposals means automatic acceptance of the company's work plans.

- The "base year” utility costs are crucial, although the contract seems to allow the baseline to be scrapped in favour of some alternative calculation. In addition, it's unclear how the baseline energy costs were calculated.

In order to follow up on our concerns, our researchers need to examine the following:

1. Base Year numbers for electricity, fuel, and water for each of the 100 city rinks/arenas which are listed as part of the Energy Retrofit Project.

2. The "Concept Reports" for each of the 100 rinks/arenas (or however many have been completed)

3. Which of the Concept Reports have been specifically approved by the City Representative to date

4. Which, if any, of the Concept Reports were automatically approved by the City to date (i.e. because 15 days passed after delivery, without acknowledgment)

5. Costs incurred by Cinergy to date

6. Moneys paid out to Cinergy by the City to date It's our understanding from reading the Cinergy/City agreement that Cinergy must first submit the "Approved Total Project Scope," and the City must agree to it, before the project goes ahead. Has that occurred? Following your request, I have cc'd this letter to many City staff, including PFR director Kathy Wiele, who is in charge of helping release public information which does not need to go through the Corporate Access office. I look forward to your response and, hopefully, and invitation to meet with you.”

This letter resulted in a phone call from Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate Department, City of Toronto. He said that he was not at liberty to answer these questions for me but would answer them internally. I heard he was invited to an internal meeting about various rink issues, to talk about the project, but did not come. I heard no more from Mr.Kamstra nor from Ms.Gruia.

October 11, 2005:

e-mail to Mayor David Miller’s office (to his assistant Carmen Smith). “The attached letter (to Cinergy Energy Retrofit Project Manager Elena Gruia) asks a number of very specific questions about this puzzling project for City rinks, for which the City has taken out a loan of $10.3 million (to pay a large American company called Cinergy to do this project). I had heard rumours that the project is ill-conceived, so our research group read as much as we could find in the council minutes, and then we got quite alarmed. Ten days ago I sent the project manager this letter containing very specific questions, with a cc to a number of relevant staff including the general manager of Parks, Forestry and R. The questions have not been answered, but Brenda Librecz (if I understood her right) did tell me that the project is not under her jurisdiction. An even bigger puzzle. This project ought perhaps to be paused until its merits can be examined. There's a lot of money at stake and if indeed the project is ill-founded, that will be upsetting to citizens if it's left to carry on anyway. (The terms of the agreement involve more than $1 million in parks operating funds being used to pay back the loan every year for seven years, beginning in a couple of years.) Today one of our researchers delivered our latest park newsletter, containing this story and others, to the city auditor, and to Suzanne Craig (with whom we recently had a very helpful meeting), and to the general manager of Parks Forestry and Rec, and to a deputy city manager (Susan Corke). I want to make the mayor's office aware also. ( The "money mysteries" are on page 5 and 6 under the heading "some bad news that has to change"). I think it would be good if several of our researchers could come and meet with you or with another of the mayor's staff. We want to help city staff with this muddle but first there has to be a willingness to collaborate -- that seems to be what's missing. Perhaps your office could help with that.”

A CELOS researcher called the mayor’s assistant and asked to make an appointment. The assistant called back about a week later and said she had contacted Brenda Librecz, and that we should follow up directly with her. I called Ms.Librecz’ office and her assistant said she would follow up. It seemed a good idea to put the Cinergy questions on a timetable, so CELOS submitted the following freedom of information request:

November 15, 2005, from Brenda Librecz, General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation:

“Thank you for your letter of September 16 and your interest in this project….In regard to your concerns of losing moneys from Parks, Forestry and Recreation budgets, we have indicated to Facilities and Real Estate that financial reductions in the parks budget will only occur is costs are actually reduced as a result of improvements….” Answers to my specific questions:

A. Utility cost details

4. What is the base utility data that’s being used in this project? (We need to see the detailed records – are they better than my chart?) The base utility data is based on records kept in the energy/utility management system maintained /managed by the Energy & Waste Management Office (EWMO).

5. How were these numbers obtained? The numbers are electronically provided by the respective Local Distribution Companies (Toronto Hydro, Enbridge, and Toronto Water)

6. How will the individual rinks/arenas’ utility costs be measured as the project goes on? The individual rinks/arena’s utility costs will be measured based in actual monthly energy use in comparison to a base year. Both the City and Cinergy will be doing this.

B. Repayment details:

4. When does Parks and Recreation begin paying back the debt for the Vestar project? P.F,&R will start paying after construction is complete and savings are being realized.

5. What is the yearly repayment schedule as of now? The yearly repayment schedule has not been confirmed.

6. How will the arenas’ repayment portion be calculated? Have the arenas signed on of their own free will, or did the City just require it of them? Or did the arenas (perhaps) promote this Vestar plan? If any of the Board of Management arenas opt out of the retrofit project, how will that affect Vestar’s $10.2 million contract? Arena’s repayment portion has not yet been calculated (will be based on actual energy saving measures installed). The City has signed the Legal Agreement on behalf of all the arenas (including the Board of Management Arenas) and the B.O.M.s will sign off for the actual measures to be installed in their arenas (the B.O.M.s have the final decision). If a B.O.M. opt out the scope of the project would be reduced or reallocated (i.e. funding) to other measures in City arenas.

C. Data from the Energy and Waste Management Office (EWMO):

(This unit within the Business and Strategic Innovation Section of the Facilities and Real Estate Division of the Corporate Services Department is responsible for the management of the City’s energy retrofit programs.)

4. The energy and water services contract between the City of Toronto and Vestar. The contract is between the City and Cinergy (not Vestar) and was signed December 2004.

5. How exactly does the EWMO track and monitor Parks and Recreation’s water and energy usage? EWMO is tracking Parks’ water and energy usage by use of an energy management tracking system (software program that is designed to do this).

6. Vestar’s feasibility studies and concept reports for each measure the company intends to carry out. The Feasibility Study has been completed and the Concept reports have been approved.

D. Financial data referred to in council minutes:

1. The record of the “many” water and energy efficiency improvements the city has previously completed (referred to in the Policy and Finance report on this project), with the savings resulting from each of these improvements. The City as past of its ongoing operations tries to operate its buildings efficiently.

2. The “detailed business case and energy audit report” required for the Vestar project at the time of the City’s annual budget review process, and also any quarterly variance reporting on this project. One would expect these reports to include baseline costs, projected and actual costs for the quarter, and estimated actuals to year-end, as well as “any remedial action that might be necessary before year-end to bring program in line with budgeted figures.” Construction on the project is just about to begin. There are no variance reports that are relevant at this time.

3. The Commissioner of Corporate Services’ annual report to Council on reductions in energy use for retrofit projects. Nothing to report at this time.

4. Parks and Recreation’s quarterly report on energy consumption and associated savings for the four quarters in 2004 and three in 2005. The project is being carried out with defined milestones. Parks, Forestry and recreation signs off at each stage of the project: contract, feasibility study, concept reports and engineering, before construction. The project is in its initial stages.

Nov. 30, 2005, to Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate:

On September 16, 2005, I sent a list of questions about the Rinks and Arenas Energy Retrofit Project to the general manager of Parks, Forestry, and Recreation. On Nov.15, 2005, Ms.Librecz responded with some answers, and an invitation to contact you directly if I have any more questions. I am aware that you told me on the phone in September that you were not at liberty to answer my questions. I hope that Ms.Librecz’ invitation to contact you for more information means that you can now give me the answers I seek.

Since May 2005, our research group has also attempted to find answers to the same questions through the Freedom of Information Act, and on Nov.16, 2005, the City’s Corporate Access department sent us the most recent responses to our questions. Mr.Jerry Verhovsek, the corporate access officer in charge of this file, suggested last week that any further questions ought to be directed to you. (I understand that you will not show me the “Concept Report,” for which access was denied and our appeal is being addressed by the Province.)

So, other than the content of the Concepts Report(s), all questions are to be referred to you. Here goes:

1. Am I right, that there is currently no complete ‘base year’ utility data? Does this mean that, one year after the Cinergy contract was signed, the Energy and Waste Management Office has still not completed the record that will be used to calculate the energy savings on which the December 2004 Cinergy contract is based?

2. If no complete ‘base year’ record exists yet, when will this record be completed?

3. Am I right that the Concept Reports referred to in the plural in the Dec.2004 Cinergy Agreement were all been approved at the same time and now form one binder called The Concept Report, which is not public information?

4. If all 100 concept reports were reviewed, discussed and approved at the same time, when did that meeting take place and how long did it take?

5. I found no reference to a Feasibility Study in the contract. But it’s mentioned in Ms.Librecz’ response. What is it? Is it public information?

6. Which arenas and rinks have already had their energy retrofit design and specification documents approved?

7. What divisions were consulted for approval?

8. Who was in charge of approving these documents in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division?

9. Ms.Librecz wrote that construction is beginning this fall at the sites where approval has occurred. Fall is almost over. Which sites are now in the process of having the Cinergy measures implemented, and what are those measures?

10. The contract appears to have an escape clause in article 3.02: “Either party may terminate this Agreement for any reason between the date the Agreement is executed and the Approved Total Project Scope is submitted to the City.” The qualifier to article 3.02 is that any work done up to then has to be paid for by the City. Since Cinergy is starting on the implementation phase before the Total Project Scope is available, that weakens the safeguard in article 3.02. By what date will the Total Project Scope be submitted?

11. Do the provisions in Article 9.01 and Article 11.04 of the Cinergy contract mean that that the City is required to pay the actual project costs even if the savings in energy costs are not realized? If not, what do these provisions mean?

Thank you in advance for answering my questions directly. I will call you in a week to check if I have understood correctly that you are now at liberty to respond.

Cc Brenda Librecz

Councillor Adam Giambrone, Ward 18

Mayor David Miller

Councillor Jane Pitfield, Ward 26

Suzanne Craig

Dec.14 2005, to Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate:

I'm glad that you feel you can let me see some of the Cinergy energy retrofit information.

In our phone conversation you mentioned that you are very busy and that it might be some weeks or perhaps longer, before you would have time for me and another researcher to come and take a look at the reports. Since it has been many months since I first asked to see this information, I am hoping that we can take a look at some concept reports before then.

So I thought it would be easier for you if I start off with only five concept reports and wait until the new year for any others. I would like to see the concept reports (and the design and specification documentation) for:

Dufferin Rink Campbell Rink Christie Rink Trinity Rink McCormick Arena

I would also like to see the baseline energy costs for those rinks (or the deemed energy costs). In addition I would like to see the format for energy conservation training sessions to be administered to PF&R staff, an outline of the content, and the costs of this plan.

I would be able to come to your office (or wherever you prefer) to read these reports this Friday morning or mid-afternoon, or any day next week. You could also, if you prefer, send me the reports electronically, since that is the form I will request when our hearing comes up with the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Feb.10, 2006, to Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate

At a budget consultation meeting in Scarborough last night, I raised the fact that the details of the Cinergy energy retrofit project are still unavailable. Both the mayor and Mr.Pennachetti encouraged me to contact you, with a cc to them, so that's why I'm writing to you again.

In the e-mail below, sent a couple of months ago, I asked to read the details for the rinks listed. I would much prefer to get those details electronically but if necessary I can come to your offices at your convenience.

City Councillor Adam Giambrone's office e-mailed me the Wallace Rink proposed modifications already. I think I understand the lighting changes and the toilet and vending machine suggestions on the list, but I have two questions:

1. how do "capacitative reactance capacitators (KVAr)" save energy? 2. why is there no reference to the energy costs related to ice thickness?

Although you must be very busy with this and other large projects, I would appreciate a chance to see this material and to hear the answers to my questions.

Feb.10, 2006, from Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate

In December we agreed to meet, probably in the new year. It would be best if you came to our office (Metro Hall) so that we will have access to the information you are looking for. I could meet with you on Feb 14th am or Feb 16 am next week. Feb 20, 23, 24 are also possibilities. Please let me know your preference.

Question from Jutta Mason to Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, August 27, 2006

The Cinergy building envelope work was done last week at the rink. The contractor pointed out to me that it was odd to put weatherstripping on the garage side door when there is an opening right above it that never closes, not in winter either:

garage side door with
always-open air vents

This opening must have been on the Cinergy heat loss audit, maybe it was overlooked when the job list was made -- can you find out when that problem is scheduled to be looked after?

Comment from Energy Retrofit project manager Al Gaanderse: This is correct. The vent was overlooked. We are presently reviewing with the engineers whether the open vents can be sealed and leaving the automatic vents in place.

September 27 2006 Re: Arena Energy Retrofit Program, from Jutta Mason

Mr.Al Gaanderse visited the park today to have a conversation about this program. Mr.Gaanderse told us that he has worked at arenas in Scarborough for Parks and Recreation for 25 years, more recently as chief operator of a community centre as well as an arena. He is currently seconded to the company that has the energy retrofit contract with the City's arenas and outdoor artificial ice rinks. He is the Project Coordinator, Arenas Energy Retrofit Program. The project is expected to need his services for three years.

The city originally entered into an Arena Energy Retrofit Contract with Vestar Energy (an American company owned by the Cinergy Corporation, a large electrical utility based out of Cincinnati), in December 2004.

Mr.Gaanderse said that he is now seconded to Optimira Energy, formerly known as Cinergy Solutions. That company in turn was recently bought from Duke Energy by New York City-based Adamas Energy. (After Adamas Energy bought Cinergy Solutions, the name was changed to Optimira Energy. Cinergy Corporation and Duke Energy are billion dollar companies and as such, the City of Toronto contract is small, but in terms of Optimira Energy, the City of Toronto contract is quite large.

garage door opens wide

However, the scope of the energy retrofit contract is very large in local terms, and not so easy to understand. Mr.Gaanderse explained a good deal. The measures we will see at Dufferin Rink are weather-stripping of doors (already done) and the installation of a computer system that will allow better monitoring of the compressors that run the rink's cooling system (that system is not yet installed). Also, since the original work plan for Dufferin Rink did not include an automatic shut-off for the large gas heater in the garage (it heats the park whenever the garage door is opened for the zamboni or the farmers' market), Mr.Gaanderse said he would look into that. From Mr.Gaanderse: The original scope included the control of the heater through the new computerized control system. The control sequence will include the installation of a sensor that will monitor the operation of the door. If the door is open, the heater will be disabled from operation. There is also a low limit that will start the heater irrespective of door position, if the room temperature gets close to freezing.

He also said that ice should not be thicker than three inches for outdoor rinks (one-and-a-half to two inches indoors) and that if it gets thicker it will use too much energy (the compressors run too much). The new automated system will allow central monitoring of the compressor use, giving a warning if the machines run continuously as they did at the end of the 2005/2006 rink season, when the ice was five to seven inches thick.

Once the data on energy use starts being collected, CELOS will ask to see it, and thereby follow the progress of this program.

January 11, 2007, from Optimira/Vestar/Cinergy project supervisor Al Gaanderse:

I would like to inform you that Optimira will have Insymtec Electrical begin the necessary wiring for preparation of the automation system being installed at Dufferin Grove Community Centre. This work has tentatively been scheduled to begin the week of January 29th, 2007.

January 11, 2007, to Optimira/Vestar/Cinergy project supervisor Al Gaanderse:

Thanks a lot for letting us know -- I've passed it along to on-site rink staff. It's not actually called a community centre, it's just a compressor-cooled outdoor rink -- but I'm sure that's what you mean.

Do you know whether Wallace Rink was already automated, during its reconstruction? (just finished).

January 12, 2007, from Optimira/Vestar/Cinergy project supervisor Al Gaanderse

We had completed our work at Wallace prior to the reconstruction project.

August 12, 2007, to Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate

You may remember me, you and I talked about the arena energy retrofit project in early 2006. Would you be able to send me a link to any subsequent reports on this project, to the relevant committee of council? I can only find this, on the city web site:, and it's too general.

I need an update but it needs to be more specific. For instance, I gather that not all the arenas ended up signing on to the project. Also, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation budget report says that utility costs have gone UP, but there are no specifics. And in any public version of that budget, I see no utility cost breakdowns.

Would you be able to direct me to more detailed reports submitted to councillors?

August 21, from Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate

The following arenas were not included in the program for various reasons:

Stephen Leacock Arena

Wallace-Emerson Community Centre,

Joseph J. Piccininni Community Centre,

Nathan Philip Sq.AIR,

Mel Lastman Square, Glen Long C.C. A.I.R.,

Moss Park Arena,

North Toronto Memorial Arena,

Forest Hill Memorial Arena,

William H. Bolton Arena,

McCormick Arena,

Weston Lions Arena,

Lakeshore Lions Arena,

Albert Campbell Outdoor AIR.

There has not been any other reports sent to Council or Committee of Council on this project. Attached is the one report that was sent initially.

While we have been reducing energy use in the arenas energy costs have actually gone up due to inflation.

August 21, 2007, to Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate

So 14 out of the 100 possible sites were not retrofitted through Optimira, including most of the BOM arenas.

I know that utility prices have gone up everywhere, so I'm not surprised to hear that arena/rink costs have gone up too. What I would like to see is

1. which projects the unused rink/arena energy retrofit money went to 2. current and recent-year comparative utility-use numbers and costs for arenas/rinks 3. the summary report for the Cinergy/Vestar/Optimira energy retrofit project (I assume that this project is completed).

Since it sounds like no such report has yet gone to Council, could you let me know where to find it? I am doing a handbook now for our research centre, on the Parks/Forestry/Recreation budget. That information is one piece I need.

October 4, from Mr. Jim Kamstra, Manager of Energy and Waste Management, Facilities and Real Estate

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

1. Funds were not specifically dedicated to individual arenas/rinks. We had more recommended measures than we had funds.

2. We are working on the utility savings reports. They are incomplete and therefore would not give an accurate picture. The first quarterly report will be ready in January 2008.

3. A project case study is being prepared and will be completed in the next couple of weeks. I will send a copy to you when complete. We are preparing this for Parks and other interested parties.

Excerpts from the agreement between The City and CINERGY SOLUTIONS

Corporate Access Request 05-2314.

Received from City of Toronto Corporate Access and Privacy: “The full text of the agreement that was entered into between the City of Toronto and Vestar/ Cinergy, resulting from RFP 9119-03-7275.” “The Agreement made in quadruplicate effective as of the 8th day of December 2004.”

Selections from the 27-page agreement

p.1 (Article 1.01) Definitions: “Approval Period” means the period of 15 days from receipt by the City of information delivered by CINERGY SOLUTIONS – DEMAND. (Note: formerly called Vestar)


P.4. (Article 2.01) “Before detailed design and construction begin, Cinergy Solutions will develop a Concept Report for each Measure and a summarized report for each Premise, subject to the approval of the City’s Representative….[and, Article 2.02] will present the City’s representative with a report for each of the Measures at the various Premises (“Concept Reports”)….[Article 2.03] Failure to notify Cinergy Solutions of the acceptance or rejection of a Concept Report within the Approval Period shall constitute an automatic acceptance of the Concept report. (p.5)” P.5 “[Article 3.01] Following the approval of the Concept Report, Cinergy Solutions will proceed with the detailed design and specifications of the Measures….[Article 3.02] The City will information Cinergy Solutions in writing of its acceptance, or any questions or concerns arising from the detailed design and specifications…Failure to notify Cinergy Solutions of the City’s acceptance or concerns within the Approval Period shall constitute acceptance by the City.” P.5 [Article 3.02] '“Either party may terminate this Agreement for any reason between the date the Agreement is executed and the Approved Total Project scope is submitted to the City.”' Note: “If the City terminates the Agreement….the City shall reimburse Cinergy Solutions for all costs and commitments incurred by Cinergy Solutions to the date of termination.”


p.6 [Article 4.05] re construction: when construction of any of the measures is complete Cinergy will notify the City. The City can let the company know of any objections to what was done. “If no such objections are raised within the Approval period, the City shall be deemed to have approved the completion of construction.”


[Article 7.01] '“…the City will provide Cinergy Solutions with complete data on electricity, gas and water utilities for the performance period for each premise that implemented the Measures.' Cinergy Solutions will quantify costs of energy consumption at the Premises, normalizing annual gas, electricity and water consumption for weather conditions and any changes in use of operations of the facilities as per Schedule “B”. If the total Project Cost… exceeds the product of the Test period [first 12 months after project end] savings multiplied by the Projected payback period, Cinergy Solutions will reimburse the difference to the City at the end of the performance period [24 months].” Note that Cinergy may also take out “energy savings insurance.”


[Article 9.01] “…costs shall include Cinergy Solutions labour, external resources, overheads, and mark-ups up to a maximum of $10.213 million. Notwithstanding the estimated costs exchanged by the parties or stated in this Agreement, the City is obligated to pay Cinergy Solutions the actual project costs.”


[Article 11.04 (11)]“A Performance Bond, for due and proper performance of the Project…” '“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein or in the Agreement, the Surety shall not be liable for nor shall this bond respond to any claims by the City with respect to concept development, Concept report(s), design, errors in design, efficiency guarantees, performance guarantees, energy savings guarantees, Energy Cost Savings, or other similar obligations.”'

Note that if the City installs equipment that may lead to more power use, Cinergy’s energy savings guarantees won’t apply. [Article 14.04 (2)]


[Article 14.06] “Any objections to the calculations and estimates [presented by Cinergy] will be made by the City in writing within the Approval Period. If no such objections are raised within the Approval period, the City shall be deemed to have approved the calculations and estimates.”

[Schedule “B”] (p.21) “The City and Cinergy Solutions, by mutual consent, may elect to determine Total Energy Cost Savings by calculation rather than by direct comparison with the Base Year.”

We need to examine:

-Base Year numbers for electricity, fuel, and water for each of the 100 city rinks/arenas listed as part of the Energy Retrofit Project.

-Date the Agreement was executed

-Concept Reports for each of the 100 rinks/arenas

-Concept Reports specifically approved by the City representative to date

-Concept reports automatically approved by the City (i.e. because 15 days passed after delivery, without acknowledgment)

-Approved Total Project Scope, if it exists

-Costs incurred by Cinergy to date

-Moneys paid out to Cinergy by the City to date

We need to speak to the City’s representative in charge of this project (the person directly in charge of giving the Concept Report approvals and monitoring)

posted November 22, 2005

Park levies questions

In the past four years, Parks and Recreation spent around $200 million repairing its facilities and building more. Where does all that money come from? Partly from levies on new development. But the city's reports on amounts of park levies are hugely contradictory. Why? The City's freedom of information staff told us to ask the general manager's staff, so we did.

To: Intiaz Ruffudeen, Information and Privacy liaison staff in the Office of the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation

1. Distribution of park levy/cash-in-lieu funds:

Access Request 04-2616 reported:

"The City’s current policy for distribution of cash-in-lieu payments is as follows:
25% goes to local parkland acquisition
25% goes to local park development
25% goes to citywide parkland acquisition
25% goes to citywide development"

A. Local versus citywide use of park levies funds:

In Access Request 05-0531, certain parks move back and forth between being considered “local” and “citywide” projects. For example,

  1. In 2004 $365,000 went to Franklin the Turtle Storybook Garden on Centre Island in the category of local Toronto, while $214,273 went there in the category of citywide in 2002.
  2. The Wychwood Streetcar Barns listed $28,550 as local Toronto in 2002, $102,146 as local Toronto in 2003, and $20,033 as citywide in 2004.

Why the inconsistencies?

B. Parkland acquisition versus parkland development use of park levies funds:

In Access Request 05-0531, the project list, spread out over a period of five years from 2000 to 2004, showed $22.1 million for park development and only $8.4 million for parkland acquisition.

In Access Request 05-1904, the total spent for all projects was about the same but the allocation to the categories was not. According to this response, the city had spent $12.6 million on park development from 2000 to 2004, and $18.2 million on parkland acquisition.

In Access Request 05-1903, I asked for a breakdown of the parkland acquisition for 2001, as a sample year. The record showed a total of $2.7 million spent for new parkland in 2001. But compare: Access Request 05-0531 showed $4.8 million for new parkland for that year. And compare again: Access Request 05-1904 showed $5.5 million spent for new parkland in 2001.

Why are all the numbers different? Which are the right ones?

2. Total deposits in park levies accounts:

In Access Request 04-3224, I asked how much went into the local and city wide park development reserve funds from 1998 to 2004. The numbers for 1998 were unavailable. The numbers for 1999 were incomplete, as were the numbers for 2004.

Please tell me the final numbers for 2004 and also the amounts of park levies that went into local and citywide park acquisition reserves from 2000 to 2004.

3. Parks and Recreation capital project non-debt financing.

In Access Request 05-1902 I asked for a breakdown of debt incurred for Parks and Recreation capital projects from 2000 to 2004. The records I received showed debt and "other," i.e. funds used to pay for capital projects that were not debt, for those years. The chart defined "other" as "Development Charges and Cash-in-Lieu…, Section 37 and 45 contributions when known, donations and fund-raising initiatives by the City or Public."

In Access Request 05-2667, I asked for a breakdown of the "other" category for 2000 to 2004.

For 2000, the first chart (05-1902) listed the total “other” funds as $8.1 million. The second chart (05-2667) listed the total “other” funds as $25.3 million.

For 2001, the first chart listed “other” as $7.6 million. The second chart listed “other” as $18 million.

For 2002, the first chart listed “other” as $18.4 million. The second chart listed “other” as $30.1 million.

For 2003, the first chart listed “other” as $19.5 million. The second chart listed “other” as $37.5 million.

For 2004 was the first chart listed “other” as $47.60 million. The second chart listed “other” as $47.85 million.

So the total 2000 to 2004 non-debt financing for Parks and Recreation capital projects was listed as $101.4 million in the first chart (of total financing of $216 million for approved projects, versus total actual spending of $205.8 million) and $158.8 million in the second chart.

Why are the numbers so different? Which are the right ones?

The second chart divides "other" three main categories: development charges, "other," and "reserve funds." What does the "other" subcategory of "other" consist of? What makes up the "reserve funds"?

If development charges are the same as park levies, that would mean that only $36.3 million of about $105 million (est. from Access Request 04-3224) was used for capital projects. Is that true?

4. Planned versus actual capital expenditures for Parks and Recreation.

In Access Request 05-1902, the first chart gives approved capital budget totals for each year from 2000 to 2004. The second chart compares planned capital spending totals (rates??) versus actuals. Comparing the first and the second chart:

2000: Approved: $50.5 million. Planned: $43.3 million. Actual: $42.6 million.
2001: Approved: $34.4 million. Planned: $63.8 million. Actual: $39.7 million.
2002: Approved: $29.2 million. Planned: $64.3 million. Actual: $31.8 million.
2003: Approved: $40.7 million. Planned: $72.9 million. Actual: $44.6 million.
2004: Approved: $64.9 million. Planned: $77.5 million. Actual: $47.1 million.

The second chart gives favourable percentages of "actual" versus "planned." But when the "approved" is compared to the "actual" it appears that Parks and Recreation overspent its approved capital budget by $5.3 million in 2001, $2.6 million in 2002, and $3.9 million in 2003. Then in 2004, the "approved" amount goes up astronomically.

Was this a transposition error, since the "actual" for 2004 is (uncharacteristically) much lower than the "approved"?

5. Debt charges

In Access Request 05-1902, the debt charges go from a low of $1.8 million in 2000 to a high of $11.1 million in 2004.

  1. Does this mean that Parks and Recreation capital projects carried no or very low debt charges coming into amalgamation?
  2. Why did the debt charges almost double from 2002 to 2003, with only a small increase in the interest rate?
6. Policy and development capital projects section salaries

Four access requests explained that Toronto city council, around the time of amalgamation, voted to cover the Policy and Development capital projects section salaries with a percentage of capital projects costs. The percentages seem to vary from 2% to 10% with an average of 7%. Calculating 7% of the yearly "actuals," this would suggest that capital projects section salaries (2000 to 2004) were about:
2000: $2,983,190;
2001: $2,782,430;
2002: $2,229,710;
2003: $3,126,130;
2004: $3,301,200.

  1. Is that approximately correct?
  2. How many capital projects staff does that pay for?
  3. Since the municipal act prohibits using debt to cover operating funds (e.g. staff salaries), will this situation be remedied? If so, when?

Breastfeeding and Human Rights, 2005

posted March 8, 2005

Human rights, breastfeeding and public undress

A scene from Dufferin Grove Park

On January 7, 2005, Jutta Mason spoke to a woman who appeared to be taking off her shirt in the park's crowded rink clubhouse, as she was preparing to breastfeed her baby. The request Jutta made led Erika Ross to make a now-well-known human rights complaint to the City, saying her right to breastfeed her baby had been challenged. Jutta protested that it was the degree of undress she had spoken about, not the human right to breastfeed at the rink house (or anywhere else). Parks and Recreation Director Don Boyle sent word that any degree of undress while breastfeeding anywhere on city property is protected by law: "A woman has the right to be topless in public. We must recognize / respect these rights and move forward." City Councillor Adam Giambrone arranged for a formal apology to Erika Ross from the City of Toronto.

So a few of the park friends struck a legal committee ...Read more >>

The City of Toronto's radical interpretation of the human right to breastfeed undisturbed took a few weeks to achieve its final formulation. Before that, the issue spent some time in the virtual public courtroom of the internet. The complainant had sent her letter to the "Friends of Dufferin Grove Park" as well as to the City councillor. When Jutta posted that letter (and her response) on the "dufferingrovefriends" list serve, an e-storm began. Read more >>

The e-mails we got from the cybernetic global village offered many interpretations of a breastfeeding women's legal rights, based on the 'Ontario Human Rights Commission's policy statement on its web site:

The code prohibits discrimination in "services, goods and facilities" against women who are breast-feeding. This means that a woman cannot be prevented from breast-feeding a child in, for example, a public area or restaurant. You have rights as a nursing mother. For example, you have the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area.

This policy statement (not all of it found in the Ontario Human Rights Code or in existing tribunal or court decisions) had a powerful effect in shaping public opinion. One stream of interpretation came from the global village's e-court:

People's ideas on the law, part one: "I can guarantee that the Mayor and Councillor completely understand the Code as it relates to breastfeeding, now!...They have confirmed in writing that no person has the right to decide how discreet a mom needs to be while breastfeeding in public, and that there is no reason that would excuse a person or organization who asks a mother to cover up or move due to breastfeeding..... And that is how true change is made - from the top down, not from the bottom up."

See People's ideas on the law, part one: Read more >>

Another stream of interpretation came from actual park users:

People's ideas on the law, part two: "Is this really an issue of one's inalienable right to sit partially naked in a public place?.....Don't we have to bend a little, to include and honor the feelings of all?"

"That some in our community might disagree is fine, but the attempt by this mother and other like minded and overly litigious individuals to impose their will and bully the rest of the community into silence forms no part of any civil society."

See People's ideas on the law, part two: Read more >>

Because the Ontario Human Rights Commission's web site posting about their breastfeeding policy seemed confusing, we wrote them a letter:

"We are writing to you about the policy regarding breastfeeding on the OHRC web site. Of the four specific sentences under the heading 'What about breastfeeding?' it's the final sentence that concerns us: They should not ask you to 'cover up', disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more 'discreet'. ....Numerous e-mails we received suggests that your policy's reference to the illegality of asking has led many readers of your web site to assume that freedom of speech is suspended in the case of a breastfeeding woman. In other words, even if there is no requirement for a breastfeeding woman to cover up a bit more, but only a request in a crowded rink house with a great variety of cultures and sensibilities, the mere fact of asking a woman if she could cover up more would be illegal. Did you intend your policy to abrogate freedom of speech?" Read more >>

Both the City of Toronto Public Health breastfeeding spokesperson Joanne Gilmour, and our most vociferous e-critic from afar (Janice Reynolds from Saskatchewan) are members of the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. The same week as our rink's breastfeeding issue was developing, this committee sent a letter to Ottawa, introducing themselves to the new head of the Public Health Authority of Canada, Dr. David Butler-Jones. They asked to be put in charge of "an integrated comprehensive approach to re-orienting Canada to a supportive breastfeeding culture." This would include "a national breastfeeding coordinator with formal authority" and a start-up budget of $323,148 in core funding.

The letter, sent on January 10 2005 and also posted on the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada's web site, sounds the alarm: if this new breastfeeding bureaucracy is not created now, Canada will be unable "to meet the operational targets outlined in the Global Strategy...for Infant and Young Child Feeding." This is even more serious when the lifelong health costs of wrong eating are taken into account: "Clearly, re-orienting Canadians to healthy eating beginning with breastfeeding is a complex undertaking and is not a short-term project."

Global goals of such overwhelming ambition may swamp out the everyday concerns of people living in any particular place. That may be why Toronto Public Health couldn't take the time to answer our questions about the City's breastfeeding policy. Read more >>

Silence in the face of our questions was a common feature throughout this breastfeeding issue. The city councillor for our area, Adam Giambrone, sent out a public letter saying "When it comes to human rights like those afforded to breast-feeding mothers, there is no wiggle room to be found....The decision to encourage a nursing mother to 'cover up' a little more or move to a more discreet location contravened the mother's rightful expectation of dignified and respectful treatment in a public facility." This and similar official statements led us to both ask the general manager of Parks and Recreation and, eventually, ask Toronto's Chief Administrative Officer, to apply due process to this incident. We asked them to use "the City protocol for investigating, fact-finding, adjudicating and communicating its decisions in response to complaints alleging breaches of people's human rights."

However neither of these officials ever answered the letters we sent them.

In the end, this leaves us back at the park, doing the same things as before the cyberstorm began. The issue of public breastfeeding was briefly lifted out of its context as part of ordinary neighbourhood life. E-mails from far away made assumptions about this park that shocked many park friends with their nasty tone. Official statements seemed unhinged from what actually goes on here. Eventually, various park friends were moved to write in about their park breastfeeding experiences:

"I nursed my two youngest children all over the park: in the rink house, in the playground, on the hill by the Farmers' Market, during Friday night suppers, sitting, standing and sometimes even while walking. I always felt comfortable nursing my children at the park and consider it to be a place where breastfeeding is very much accepted. (Consider how common it is to see women nursing at the Farmers' Market and contrast this to the number of times you have seen anyone breastfeed at a store like Loblaws or No Frills......)"


posted March 8, 2005

Request to the Ontario Human Rights Commission


March 1, 2005

Mr. Francois Larsen,
Director of Policy and Education Branch
Ontario Human Rights Commission
180 Dundas St.W., 9th Floor
Toronto M7A 2R9

Dear Mr.Larsen,

We are writing to you about the policy regarding breastfeeding on the OHRC web site. Of the four specific sentences under the heading "What about breastfeeding?" it's the final sentence that concerns us: They should not ask you to "cover up", disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more "discreet".

One of us called the OHRC on February 28 to ask how the policy content is set. The staff person said that policy is set by your department and that it's based on various things including the Code, cases, and public consultation. She was unable, however, to find any additional documentation on the breastfeeding part of your policy (for instance, whether there was public consultation).

Our representative asked about one detail of the policy wording: is there a practical difference between the word "must," and the word "should"? Your staff person seemed to find this question irritating and said that they essentially mean the same thing and that we should look it up in the dictionary.

We have no wish to be irritating. But the wording of your breastfeeding policy recently caused some difficulty in our neighbourhood. It also resulted in a hastily-drafted city policy that seems to endanger multi-cultural use of city facilities. We assume that this was not the OHR Commission's intent, and we hope you can answer our questions more helpfully than your telephone staff.

The web page that deals with breastfeeding is entitled "Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Your Rights & Responsibilities." However we could find no reference to any responsibilities affecting breastfeeding. Near the end of the web page there is a link called "Policy on Discrimination because of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding." The linked page deals only with pregnancy, however. So we are thrown back on the four small sentences in your policy. The final sentence confuses us.

Our problem began with an unusual degree of disrobing by a woman about to breastfeed her baby, in our park's mixed-age/ culture/ sensibility rink clubhouse. (Our neighborhood is said to contain 45 different language groups.) When a friend of the park asked the women to put her shirt down more while breastfeeding - or if she didn't wish to do that, to go into the sink anteroom of our washroom where there is a more secluded chair - the woman was very unhappy. She was not compelled, by the park friend or anyone else, to do either of those things. But the fact of someone speaking to her, led her to follow up the next morning by making a human rights "gender harassment" complaint to the City of Toronto.

Your telephone staff person said she had read about our issue in the newspapers and that since women are allowed to be topless in Ontario, there was nothing to talk about. We disagree. So here's our first question:

Since our park clubhouse does not permit men to be topless any more than a restaurant or concert hall does, why would the Gwen Jacob case apply here? Doesn't it simply mandate equal treatment?

Your staff went on to say that no woman should be harassed by being made to feel ashamed of her body when breastfeeding. Since your staff person did not ask for any details of the actual incident, we assume that she is expressing the absolute sense of your policy, that no breastfeeding woman should be disturbed. It appears that one of the many things that could conceivably disturb a woman would be if anyone asked her to cover up more while breastfeeding. The City of Toronto took your policy to mean that a breastfeeding woman could take off her entire shirt and yet she must not be asked to cover up more. Nor, in such a circumstance - says the new City policy - must anyone even try to shield her state of undress from others. They would be guilty of "disturbing." Presumably this applies as much at a City Council meeting or a formal dinner hosted by the Mayor as it does at our rink clubhouse.

Here are two questions arising out of these policies:

  1. Since a woman does not need to take her shirt off while breastfeeding, nor does she need to show a great deal of the rest of her unclothed torso, does your policy intend that a breastfeeding woman has additional prerogatives besides her right to breastfeed her baby anywhere, anytime?
  2. Documentation derived from numerous e-mails we received suggests that your policy's reference to the illegality of asking has led many readers of your web site to assume that freedom of speech is suspended in the case of a breastfeeding woman. In other words, even if there is no requirement for a breastfeeding woman to cover up a bit more, but only a request in a crowded rink house with a great variety of cultures and sensibilities, the mere fact of asking a woman if she could cover up more would be illegal. Did you intend your policy to abrogate freedom of speech?

We are friends of Dufferin Grove Park. In the last thirteen years, our park has gradually changed from being rather unpleasant at times to being a lively, beloved commons for the neighbourhood. Many in our community were dumbfounded to see our friendly park being characterized as a site of a human rights violation, based on our efforts to encourage mutual accomodation across cultures inside the small crowded space of our rink clubhouse. Open, obvious breastfeeding is not the problem - our park is "breastfeeding central" - but an unusual state of undress in the clubhouse may drive other cultures away. We don't want to drive anyone away, and so the questions we have sent you are of importance to us. We look forward to your clarifications.

Yours truly,

[signed] Jutta Mason

Note, March 15, 2005: As of this date, we have not received a response to this letter.

See also: Letter to City CAO?

posted February 15, 2005

CELOS requests proceedings to investigate a human rights complaint incident

A letter to the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation Department:

Feb.10. 2005

Ms. Brenda Librecz\\ Acting General Manager
Toronto Parks and Recreation

Dear Ms. Librecz:

A legal committee has been struck by the friends of Dufferin Grove to look into the recent incident involving a complaint by a woman claiming that her right to breastfeed was infringed.

In order to pursue our research into this situation, we need a copy of the City of Toronto's Policy on Human Rights and Harassment as well as any other relevant policies and materials the City has relied on in its response to this complaint. We have tried unsuccessfully to find this material on the City's website. In particular, we would like a copy of the City's protocol for investigating, fact-finding, adjudicating and communicating its decisions in response to complaints alleging breaches of people's human rights.

Our preliminary reading of the Ontario Human Rights Code and research into decisions relating to a woman's right to breastfeed suggest that City protocol and policies may be seriously out of sync with the Ontario Human Rights Code and human rights jurisprudence. Upon receipt of the City's policies and protocols we will research this matter further, following which we look forward to meeting with you to discuss our findings.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Yours truly,

Belinda Cole

Centre for Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

cc. Councillor Adam Giambrone

Note, March 15, 2005: As of this date, we have not received a response to this letter.

See also: Letter to Parks & Rec?

posted February 16, 2005

Request to the City's CAO


February 16, 2005

Ms.Shirley Hoy
Chief Administrative Officer
City of Toronto
11th floor East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Dear Ms.Hoy,

I am writing to request that you authorize an investigation into a recent incident at Dufferin Grove Park.

A complaint was made to the City, against me as a city volunteer, for what was called "an illegal act of gender harassment," after I asked a woman to expose less of her upper body, as she was preparing to breastfeed her baby in the park's rink house. The city subsequently issued a hastily put-together policy statement which appears to mean that a breastfeeding woman can be half or totally unclothed on any city property while feeding her child. It appears that any staff or volunteer who attempts to even screen an exceptional amount of nudity in such a case is subject to discipline, whether or not s/he speaks to the breastfeeding woman.

Many friends of our park, and the Dufferin Rink staff as well, are concerned that such a policy would no longer support the diversity of cultures, ages, and sensibilities in the park's often-crowded rink house. The park friends felt the need to strike a legal committee, and their investigations into the Ontario Human Rights Code (and the related jurisprudence) suggest that such a rigid policy does not conform to current law.

In addition, I am concerned that the City's policy statements, as published and also made available to the media, strongly imply that I had actually tried to prevent a woman from breastfeeding her baby in the rink house. This assumption is counter to my (and the rink staff's) version of the event. My three attempts to speak about the details of the event with P&R director Don Boyle and one attempt with Public Health spokesperson Joanne Gilmour, were refused. Mr.Boyle did eventually give a partial response, after many people from the neighbourhood wrote to Brenda Librecz. However, there has never yet been an invitation for me to tell what I saw and did, and to take part in a full and careful discussion of the situation.

I assume that there is a City protocol for investigating, fact-finding, adjudicating and communicating its decisions in response to complaints alleging breaches of people's human rights. I would appreciate it if you could now set this in motion.

[signed] Jutta Mason

Note, March 15, 2005: As of this date, we have not received a response to this letter.

Breastfeeding and Human Rights - Case Law

See also: Literature Review

posted February 15, 2005

Case Law

A Human Rights decision about breastfeeding, which promotes "reasonableness" on both sides, from Manitoba:

Case Name:

Morriseau v. Wall (c.o.b. Paisley Park)

The Human Rights Code, C.C.S.M. Cap H175 and amendments thereto.

Between Kimlee Wong Morriseau, and the Human Rights Commission, complainants, and Jason Wall and Vivian Wall, operating as Paisley Park, respondents

[2000] M.H.R.B.A.D. No. 1

Manitoba Board of Adjudication under the Human Rights Code Adjudicator:

P.C. Suche, Q.C.

December 12, 2000.

(48 paras.)

For the Complainants: A. Berg and J. Mann.

For the Respondents: Jason Wall and Vivian Wall, in person.


This complaint was filed by Kimlee Wong Morriseau on May 20, 1998, and alleges that the Respondents discriminated against her on the basis of family status and gender in that she was not allowed to breast-feed her infant child while in the Respondents' store.

The issue that arises in this case is whether a party who provides a service to the public, as described in Section 13(1) of The Human Rights Code, must reasonably accommodate a nursing mother, and if so, what amounts to reasonable accommodation in the particular circumstances of this situation.


The hearing of this matter took place on September 20th and 21st, 2000. The Complainant and two friends, Jacqueline Vincent and Ginette McMullen testified, as did the Respondents, Jason and Vivian Wall. Two very different versions of events were described. Central to the issue is a discussion that occurred between Kimlee Wong Morriseau and Jason Wall, the critical components of which were neither witnessed nor overheard by anyone else.

The Respondents operate (or did at the time in question) an antique store known as Paisley Park located in the Osborne Village area of Winnipeg. On April 23, 1998, the Complainant and her two friends had spent the afternoon browsing in Osborne Village. The Complainant was carrying her six month old daughter, Kachina, in a baby sling. At about 4:00 p.m., the group entered the Respondents' premises. Vincent and McMullen went in one direction, their attention caught by some chairs that Vincent was interested in, and the Complainant went in another. After a few minutes, Kachina began to fuss and the Complainant recognized that she was hungry, so she looked for somewhere to sit so she could breast-feed. There were several chairs in the store, so she sat in one that was located somewhat out of the way, and began to nurse Kachina. Wong Morriseau's version of what happened then is that Jason Wall approached her and stated, "I don't have a problem with that, but other customers might". He then asked her to go outside and indicated to a door that lead to what looked like an alley. She thought it looked dirty and insecure.

The Complainant looked around and saw that there were other customers in the store, none of whom were paying any attention to her. She told Wall that she had the right to breast-feed her child. She also attempted to explain to him the benefits of breast-feeding as she felt that he probably did not understand its importance. She maintained that she was not angry and that she spoke in a normal voice which was not raised. However, Wall responded by saying that she was being very rude. He picked up the telephone and said he was calling the police. At that point, Wong Morriseau turned her attention away from him for a few minutes. He again approached her and told her she was being very rude and should leave. She said she would leave when her friends left. When he continued on with this "verbally harassive" behaviour, as she described it, she started to feel anxious, so she called her friends over and told them that Wall had a problem with her breast-feeding, so they would have to leave. She said at that point Wall stated that he had spoken to his wife. The Complainant and her friends then left the shop.

Wong Morriseau maintained that she was not offered any alternative to leaving the store, nor did Wall say anything about the particular chair she was sitting in. She understood only that he wanted her to leave. She denied that she swore at him or was rude in any way.

Jacqueline Vincent testified that she and her sister had been looking at some chairs when she became aware that the Complainant and the Respondent were involved in a conversation, as she heard raised voices. The Complainant then called her and McMullen over. She was visibly upset and told them that Wall had said that if she wanted to feed Kachina she had to go outside. Vincent said she looked into the courtyard and from what she could see it appeared dirty and dingy. The Complainant also said that Wall had told her that he wanted her to leave the store. Wall interjected that he had spoken to his wife, and his wife said that the Complainant should leave. Vincent testified that she and her sister could not understand why the Complainant was being asked to leave.

Ginette McMullen testified that she and Vincent were looking at some things in the shop and had their backs turned when the Complainant called to them. They walked over to the Complainant and Respondent. Wong-Morriseau told them that Wall had said that she would have to leave and could not breast-feed her baby in the store. McMullen recalled that the Complainant had a shocked and upset look on her face at this point, and told them that Wall had suggested that she go outside to feed Kachina. She looked out the door and saw dirty concrete and a brick wall. McMullen also recalled that the Respondent made a comment that it was his right to ask them to leave. She thought he said something about offending customers. She remembered, as well, that he had made reference to getting the chair dirty, or expressed concern that it would get dirty. McMullen said she was shocked that something like this would happen "in this day and age".

Jason and Vivian Wall had a very different story to tell. Jason Wall stated that he is very conscious of the importance of being polite to everyone who comes into the store. Only ten per cent of those who come into the shop make purchases. He recognizes that the other ninety percent may well return to purchase an item at a future date, so it has always been his practice to treat everyone the same.

On the day in question, Wall said he was working at the counter when the Complainant and her friends arrived. He spoke to Vincent and McMullen for a few moments about the chairs they were looking at, and thereafter, noticed the Complainant was sitting on a very valuable Jacobean chair. It was the most expensive item in the store. He testified that he "got a little antsy" when he saw this because of the value of the chair. He said that he was concerned that the baby might spit up on the chair, and damage or soil it. Damage to stock was a matter of some concern to the Respondents. Wall maintained that it is very easy for articles to be damaged. They had had situations where furniture was damaged just from people sitting on it; for example, he recalled a chair was damaged by a comb that was sticking out of a customer's pocket when he sat down. It was for this reason that the Respondents had a policy of not allowing customers to bring food or drink into the store. A sign was posted in the window that said "No food or drink allowed". The usual concern was more so in the case of this chair, because of its value. It was for this reason that the chair had a tag on it that read, "Please ask permission to sit in chair".

Wall said he recognized the situation was somewhat delicate, so he decided to call his wife and ask her what to do. She thought that he should offer the woman another place to sit. Since it was a beautiful day, she suggested the courtyard might be a good spot. Alternatively there were some dinette chairs in the shop that could be used.

The courtyard is adjacent to the store and is accessed by a door at one end of the store. This is the door that Wall pointed to in his discussion with Wong Morriseau. The courtyard has no roof, but is totally enclosed by the other areas of the building. A tree is in the center and several benches are located around the tree. The walls are brick, the ground is unistone. Wall said it was a beautiful day: the sun was shining into the courtyard; he described it as most pleasant and tranquil. The courtyard is well maintained and he indicated that he frequently received comments from customers as to how lovely an area it was. He said it was simply impossible that there was debris or litter in the courtyard. There is a large mural painted on the wall that faces the store. It could not be described as dingy, in his view.

Wall denied that when he first approached Wong Morriseau while she was breast-feeding he said that "while [he] didn't have a problem with it, others might". He said that he offered her the courtyard as a place to nurse her baby, and suggested that she could also sit in a vinyl chair which was located next to the door leading to the courtyard. In response he said Wong Morriseau stated, "I'll damn well breast-feed wherever I want". He described her tone as belligerent and said her voice was raised. At that point, he noticed that two customers who had just entered the store turned and left. He found this to be very unusual and concluded that the two events were related. He told the Complainant that she was being rude and she would have to leave as she was upsetting other customers. She refused.

He said the Complainant's friends then came over and Wong Morriseau told them that she would have to leave the store. As she passed the desk, he heard her say "this guy won't let me breast-feed - how typical of a guy". Wall said he pointed out that he spoken to his wife who agreed that the Complainant should leave. He said that as they left, one of them made a comment that the Human Rights Commission would be interested in this.

Vivian Wall testified that she received a call from her husband on the afternoon in question, advising that there was a woman breast-feeding in the Jacobean chair. He wondered what to do. She told him to suggest that she go sit in the courtyard because it was a beautiful day; alternatively, she could sit on one of the chairs from a dinette suite. Five minutes later, she received another telephone call from him. He was very shaken up. He described what had occurred and that that the customer stated that she was going to the Human Rights Commission. Wall's response was that she did not feel that there was anything to fear based on what he had told her.

Wall described that in the several weeks after the complaint was filed, the issue became a matter of interest to the media. CBC contacted her; several articles appeared in local newspapers; the local BIZ organization received an e-mail from an irate member of the public purportedly on behalf of the Complainant. She expressed frustration that she and her husband had been unfairly portrayed to the public. It was clear from their testimony that they still felt the sting of the negative publicity they received.

The two versions of the conversation between Wong Morriseau and Jason Wall could hardly have been more different. It was apparent that both were quite invested in their perspective; they portrayed themselves as the picture of reasonableness, and the other as quite the opposite. While I do not think that either was untruthful, I am satisfied that in both instances both their perceptions and recollections were not accurate. It is also clear that the intervening two and half years between the incident and the hearing served to further colour their recollections. The search for truth, which is always an inexact process, becomes more difficult in such situations. Consistency with other evidence concerning surrounding events, as well as common sense and logic become important, if not blunt instruments in trying to decide what took place.

When all is said and done, there are some aspects of the situation that will forever remain unclear. However, I am satisfied about a few critical points. I accept that Wall's concern was that the Complainant was sitting in the Jacobean chair. He felt that he had the right to enforce the store's policy that prevented customers from consuming food or drink on the premises; he also seems to have recognized that in doing so might be inappropriate in the case of the Complainant, and that was the reason he sought his wife's advice.

I accept Wong Morriseau's evidence that Wall never mentioned that his concern was the particular chair she was sitting on. I also doubt that he was as polite as he would have me believe. Having said that, I also accept that the Complainant responded in more or less the fashion he described. Wong Morriseau, reacting to what she no doubt perceived as an attack on herself and her child, and Wall, offended at a browser's belligerence in the face of his attempt to protect his property were instant partners in a serious conflict. Surely this is the very stuff of which neighbourhood feuds, or even international incidents are made.

The Respondents were providing a service to the public in operating their store, and thus, come within Section 13 of the Human Rights Code. The first question that arises is whether they discriminated against the Complainant. Specifically what is at issue is the Respondents' policy of not allowing customers to consume food or drink on the premises. While the policy is not discriminatory on its face, it is the application of the policy to the Complainant that must be examined.

Discrimination, as defined by Section 9(1)(d) of the Human Rights Code includes:

  • failure to make reasonable accommodation for the special needs of any individual or group, if those special needs are based upon any characteristic referred to in subsection
  • (2 Section 9(2) of the Human Rights Code lists the applicable characteristics, the relevant of those being:
    • sex, including pregnancy, the possibility of pregnancy, or circumstances related to pregnancy;
    • gender-determined characteristics or circumstances other than those included in the clause (f)
    • marital or family status.

I am satisfied that breast-feeding falls within both "circumstances related to pregnancy" and "family status". If I am wrong on the former, then certainly breast-feeding is a "gender related characteristic or circumstance" as contemplated by (g).

In my view breast-feeding is both about the rights of the mother and the rights of the infant child. This is of particular relevance given the policy in question. After all it was the child that was eating. In this respect, a nursing child would fall within Section 9(2)(e) of the Code, which identifies age as a protected characteristic.

Breast-feeding is an important health and developmental issue. In Schafer v. Canada (Attorney General) [1996] O.J. No. 1915, the court commented on information filed before it, (p. 8):


The World Health Organization, Health and Welfare Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society have for the past 20 years actively promoted breast-feeding. Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended for the first 6 to 12 months of life for maximum nutritional, immunological and developmental benefit to an infant. About 75% to 80% of mothers begin breast-feeding. There is no accurate data about its duration. It is estimated that only 25-30% of mothers continue to breast-feed for 6 months. Exclusive breast-feeding does not persist after 2 months for a majority of breast-feeding mothers.

Breast-feeding is a high frequency irregularly scheduled activity. The mother must be well nourished and needs frequent rest periods. The women's ability to sustain lactation requires help with other children and household tasks and emotional encouragement. Mother and child must be in close proximity. The surroundings must be clean and comfortable with some degree of privacy. Few work sites can accommodate these needs.

It is also the case that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, to which Canada is a party, provides:

Article 10:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:

1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children

2. Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth....

3. Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination by reasons of parentage or other consideration...

In addition, The Convention on the Rights of the Child was sponsored by the United Nations in 1989. Canada became a signatory in 1991. The preamble recalls that in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and ssistance.

Article 24 of the Convention addresses the promotion of health care and nutrition of children, including pre-natal and post-natal care for mothers and the advantages of breast-feeding.

International documents to which Canada is a signatory are not binding authorities. The Supreme Court of Canada in Slaight Communications Inc. v. Davidson [1989] S.C.R. 1038 observed that when considering the Charter, the same must be interpreted to be consistent with such conventions. While provincial legislation may be one step removed, the purposive nature of such legislation suggests the same standards are intended to apply.

There can be no doubt that a breast-feeding mother and her child have special needs, and these must be reasonably accommodated by anyone who provides a service that falls within Section 13(1) of the Human Rights Code.

The Law

Until recently, an analysis of a human rights cases from most jurisdictions was dependant upon whether the discrimination was direct or indirect. Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada in British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union v. Government of the Province of British Columbia as represented by the Public Service Employee Relations Commission (1999), 35 C.H.R.R. D/257 (S.C.C), (the "Meiorin case"), observed that this analysis raised numerous difficulties. The court concluded it was appropriate to adopt what it described as a unified approach. This approach is consistent with the analysis that has always been required by the Human Rights Code, given Section 9(1)(d). The three steps identified by the Supreme Court in determining whether a discriminatory rule can be sustained provide a concise road map for the analysis of the duty to accommodate.

The Court stated at page 275:

4. Elements of a Unified Approach

Having considered the various alternatives, I propose the following three-step test for determining whether a prima facie discriminatory standard is a BFOR. An employer may justify the impugned standard by establishing on the balance of probabilities:

(1) that the employer adopted the standard for a purpose rationally connected to the performance of the job;

(2) that the employer adopted the particular standard in an honest and good faith belief that it was necessary to the fulfillment of that legitimate work-related purpose; and

(3) that the standard is reasonably necessary to the accomplishment of that legitimate work-related purpose. To show that the standard is reasonably necessary, it must be demonstrated that it is impossible to accommodate individual employees sharing the characteristics of the claimant without imposing undue hardship upon the employer.

This approach is premised on the need to develop standards that accommodate the potential contributions of all employees insofar as this can be done without undue hardship to the employer. Standards may adversely affect members of a particular group, to be sure. But as Wilson J. noted in Central Alberta Dairy Pool, supra, at 518 [D/436, para. 56], "[i]f a reasonable alternative exists to burdening members of a group with a given rule, that rule will not be [a BFOR]". It follows that a rule or standard must accommodate individual differences to the point of undue hardship if it is found reasonably necessary. Unless no further accommodation is possible without imposing undue hardship, the standard is not a BFOR in its existing form and the prima facie case of discrimination stands.

Having set out the test, I offer certain elaborations on its application.

Step One

The first step in assessing whether the employer has successfully established a BFOR defence is to identify the general purpose of the impugned standard and determine whether it is rationally connected to the performance of the job. The initial task is to determine what the impugned standard is generally designed to achieve. The ability to work safely and efficiently is the purpose most often mentioned in the cases, but there may well be other reasons for imposing particular standards in the workplace. In Brossard, supra, for example, the general purpose of the town's anti-nepotism policy was to curb actual and apparent conflicts of interest among public employees. In Caldwell, supra, the Roman Catholic Church high school sought to maintain the religious integrity of its teaching environment and curriculum. In other circumstances, the employer may seek to ensure that qualified employees are present at certain times. There are innumerable possible reasons that an employer might seek to impose a standard on it employees.

Step Two

Once the legitimacy of the employer's more general purpose is established, the employer must take the second step of demonstrating that it adopted the particular standard with an honest and good faith belief that it was necessary to the accomplishment of its purpose, with no intention of discriminating against the claimant. This addresses the subjective element of the test which, although not essential to a finding that the standard is not a BFOR, is one basis on which the standard may be struck down: see O'Malley, supra, at 547-50 [D/3105], per McIntyre J.; Etobicoke, supra, at 209 [D/783], per McIntyre J. If the imposition of the standard was not thought to be reasonably necessary or was motivated by discriminatory animus, then it cannot be a BFOR.

Step Three

The employer's third and final hurdle is to demonstrate that the impugned standard is reasonably necessary for the employer to accomplish its purpose, which by this point has been demonstrated to be rationally connected to the performance of the job. The employer must establish that it cannot accommodate the claimant and others adversely affected by the standard without experiencing undue hardship. When referring to the concept of "undue hardship", it is important to recall the words of Sopinka J. who observed in Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v. Renaud, [1992] 2 S.C.C. 970 at 984 [16 C.H.R.R. D/425 at D/432, para. 19], that "[t]he use of the term 'undue' infers that some hardship is acceptable; it is only 'undue' hardship that satisfies this test". It may be ideal from the employer's perspective to choose a standard that is uncompromisingly stringent. Yet the standard, if it is to be justified under the human rights legislation, must accommodate factors relating to the unique capabilities and inherent worth and dignity of every individual, up to the point of undue hardship.

Although the Meiorin test was developed in the employment context, it applies to all claims of discrimination.

Applying the first step to the situation at hand then, it is clear that the Respondents' policy of not allowing food or beverages in their store was adopted for a purpose or goal that was rationally connected to their business. Certainly the concern that their goods could be soiled or damaged was legitimate, and such a rule would minimize the risk of this occurring.

I am also satisfied that the policy met the second test, namely that it was adopted in good faith and in the belief that it was necessary to achieve its purpose.

The third step asks the questions of whether the policy is reasonably necessary to accomplish its purpose in the sense that the Respondents could not accommodate the Complainant without incurring undue hardship.

As was noted in Terry Grismer (Estate) v. British Columbia Council of Human Rights (Member of Designate Tom Patch), British Columbia Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (1999), 36 C.H.R.R. D/129 (S.C.C.), at page 136:

"Accommodation" refers to what is required in the circumstances to avoid discrimination. Standards must be as inclusive as possible. There is more than one way to establish that the necessary level of accommodation has not been provided.

It must be remembered, of course, that accommodation does not have to be absolute or "perfect" accommodation. Rather, by definition, it must be reasonable. It may be that there is more than one alternative available, and in that instance, the employer or service provider, as the case may be, has the right to choose which accommodation it shall offer.

The party seeking accommodation also has some responsibilities in this situation. As was noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v. Renaud, [1992] 16 C.H.R.R. SCC D/425, at page 439:

The search for accommodation is a multi-party inquiry. Along with the employer and the union, there is also a duty on the complainant to assist in securing an appropriate accommodation. The inclusion of the complainant in the search for accommodation was recognized by this Court in O'Malley, supra. At p. 555

[D/3107, para. 24777], McInytre J. stated:

Where such reasonable steps, however, do not fully reach the desired end, the complainant, in the absence of some accommodating steps on his own part such as an acceptance in this case of part-time work, must either sacrifice his religious principles or his employment.

To facilitate the search for an accommodation, the complainant must do his or her part as well. Concomitant with a search for reasonable accommodation is a duty to facilitate the search for such an accommodation. Thus in determining whether the duty of accommodation has been fulfilled the conduct of the complainant must be considered.

This does not mean that, in addition to bringing to the attention of the employer the facts relating to discrimination, the complainant has a duty to originate a solution. While the complainant may be in a position to make suggestions, the employer is in the best position to determine how the complainant can be accommodated without undue interference in the operation of the employer's business. When an employer has initiated a proposal that is reasonable and would, if implemented, fulfill the duty to accommodate, the complainant has a duty to facilitate the implementation of the proposal. If failure to take reasonable steps on the part of the complainant causes the proposal to founder, the complaint will be dismissed.

The other aspect of this duty is the obligation to accept reasonable accommodation. This is the aspect referred to by McIntyre J. in O'Malley, supra. The complainant cannot expect a perfect solution. If a proposal that would be reasonable in all the circumstances is turned down, the employer's duty is discharged.

In conclusion, the duty to accommodate requires reasonableness and something of a give-and-take on the part of all those who are affected by a given situation. It is, as has been described by one experienced counsel, "a dance of reasonableness">.

The question of whether third parties are affected by an accommodation is sometimes a relevant consideration. The Court in Renaud commented, (again in the context of a complaint of discrimination in employment) that:

The reaction of employees may be a factor in deciding whether accommodating measures would constitute undue interference in the operation of the employer's business. In Central Alberta Dairy Pool, supra, Wilson J. referred to employee morale as one of the factors to be taken into account. It is a factor that must be applied with caution. The objection of employees based on well-grounded concerns that their rights will be affected must be considered. On the other hand, objections based on attitudes inconsistent with human rights are an irrelevant consideration.

Here the Complainant testified that the Respondent stated, as his explanation for suggesting she go into the courtyard, that other customers might be offended by her breast-feeding her child. Wall denied this. For the purposes of reaching a decision in this case, it is not necessary for me to conclude whether the comment was made. It is worth noting, however, that such a consideration would be an improper basis for refusing accommodation, being nothing more than an archaic view that comes within Justice Sopinka's description of "an attitude inconsistent with human rights".

Applying the principles referred to above to the facts of this situation, there are several conclusions that can be drawn. The first is that the Respondents cannot enforce their policy that no food or beverage can be consumed in their store as against the Complainant and her daughter. In the language of human rights analysis, they have not demonstrated that they would suffer undue hardship by accommodating the Complainant. In fairness, the Respondents did not argue otherwise. They maintained that they had offered reasonable accommodation. This point is really all that is in issue.

What is reasonable accommodation of the needs of a breast-feeding mother and her child? Based on the Complainant's testimony, the comments in Schafer and some common sense, all that was required was somewhere for the complainant to sit that was clean, comfortable, and somewhat private. The Jacobean chair located in an out of the way spot in the Respondents' store offered that. However, the Complainant had no absolute right to sit there. The Respondents had the right to choose the accommodation they would offer, provided, of course, that it was reasonable.

This leads to the question of exactly what was offered. Jason Wall maintained that he told the Complainant that she could go into the courtyard or sit in a dinette chair that was located near the door into the Courtyard. Wong Morriseau said he offered no alternative to the courtyard. I accept Wong Morriseau's evidence on this point. I am satisfied that all that was communicated to the Complainant was to sit in the courtyard. I am also satisfied that the Complainant was not insistent on sitting on the Jacobean chair, and would have agreed to sit somewhere else, had it been offered.

Was the courtyard, then, a reasonable location for the Complainant to sit to breast-feed her child? To begin with, I accept the Respondents' description of both the courtyard and the weather conditions on the day in question, albeit that the latter was not really in issue. I conclude that given those conditions, on that particular day the courtyard was a location that was as suitable and secure, and generally as comfortable as presented by the Jacobean chair in the store. Furthermore, offering the courtyard was not equivalent to asking the Complainant to leave the premises, which would not amount to reasonable accommodation. The courtyard was connected to the store and private to a few tenants in the building. It is clear that Wong Morriseau did not appreciate this, and thought it was something much less attractive. This was due, in part, to the fact that the conflict in which she and the Respondent were engaged was in full flight by this point.

It was argued on behalf of the Complainants that offering the courtyard to Wong Morriseau amounts to segregation, and is reflective of an "out of sight, out of mind attitude" that is no longer acceptable. While I agree that such an attitude is sexist and outdated, I am not prepared to conclude that it is one that the Respondent held. Even if I were, however, I do not see that it would make a difference to the outcome in this case. Human rights is about conduct, not motives. The law is clear that in human rights cases intention is irrelevant. The question is only what is the effect or result of the conduct to the person entitled to protection? For this reason, neither ignorance, nor bona fide intention is a successful defence to a claim of discrimination. Surely the principle operates in reverse. If the accommodation offered is reasonable, it should be no less so because it was offered as a result of an attitude inconsistent with human rights.

This situation was both unfortunate and unnecessary. To be generous to the Complainant and the Respondent, one could say that the whole episode was simply an exercise in miscommunication. While I don't perceive either of them to be unreasonable people, certainly their conduct in this matter does not reflect well on them. Having said that, this analysis is not about manners, and I conclude that the Respondents have met the onus upon them to demonstrate that they offered to reasonably accommodate the special needs of the Complainant and her infant daughter. The complaint is therefore dismissed.

Dated at the City of Winnipeg, in Manitoba, this 12th day of December, 2000

P.C. Suche, Q.C.


Breastfeeding and Human Rights - Literature Review

See also: Case Law

posted February 15, 2005

Literature Review
Preliminary research into Human Rights law and jurisprudence relating to breastfeeding.

Three questions considered by our legal committee:

NOTE: All excerpts from legislation below are enclosed in blocks surrounded by dashed lines.

Q: Does the statement of breastfeeding policy on the OHRC website have the force of law?

A: Some yes, some no. See below.

In the affirmative:

The Policy reads:

"Policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy

9. Services, Goods and Facilities (s. 1)

The code prohibits discrimination in "services, goods and facilities" against women who are breast-feeding. This means that a woman cannot be prevented from breast-feeding a child in, for example, a public area or restaurant.

You have rights as a nursing mother. For example, you have the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area."

- True. BCHRC 1997 case - Poirier, although this case was decided solely re: a woman's right to breast-feed in the context of her employment. [NOTE: although discrimination re: denial of public facility, etc. was alleged by Michelle Poirier, the tribunal decided that she was denied for work-related reasons, therefore, she did not establich prima facie case needed to proceed re: public facility. This was an outright denial of right to breastfeed; it was either do not breastfeed here or do not come.]

In the negative:

[from the policy:] "They should not ask you to 'cover up', disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more 'discreet'."

- I found no case-law re: human rights commissions or courts so far to support this.

- To the contrary, there are a number of strong arguments based in both the Ontario Human Rights Code itself and, apparently, human rights decisions (Alta and Manitoba) re: breastfeeding in other jurisdictions that pose strong challenges to this very broad statement.

The Ontario Human Rights Code

  • Disclaimer re: policy on p. 1 -

"This policy statement contains the Commission's <i>interpretation</i> of ... the Code ... It is subject to decisions by Boards of Inquiry and the courts. The policy should be read in conjunction with those decisions and with the specific language of the Code..."

  • Preamble of Act underlines the inherent aim of fostering a climate of understanding and mutual respect and the context of a larger community in which an individual can take part. Clearly, balancing these rights is at the heart of the purpose of the legislation
And Whereas it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law, and having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and able to contribute fully to the development and well-being of the community and the Province;
I don't think that there has been any human rights violation as the E.Ross was never denied the right to breastfeed. My reading of the human rights jurisprudence re: this situation is that the complainant must establish a prima facie case that her rights have been infringed. I don't think that a request to cover up is sufficient to support a complaint. She can't base her complaint on harassment, as there was a single incident, not the necessary course of conduct:

"harassment" means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; ("harcèlement")

  • Additionally, the very clause which E. Ross would presumably seek to invoke to establish discrimination contemplates the variety and breadth of people and interests and circumstances who/which must be accomodated.

1. <> Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, same-sex partnership status, family status or disability. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 1; 1999, c. 6, s. 28 (1); 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (1).

  • The definition of equal is expressly required to be considered in a context:


Definitions re: Parts I and II

"equal" means subject to all requirements, qualifications and considerations that are not a prohibited ground of discrimination; ("égal")

Although section 8 below was clearly not intended for this purpose, I think we could make an interesting argument that J. Mason, in safeguarding the rights of all of the people who use the rink house, should be able to do this without threat. Clearly, this section is concerned with the danger of bullying:


8. <> Every person has a right to claim and enforce his or her rights under this Act, to institute and participate in proceedings under this Act and to refuse to infringe a right of another person under this Act, without reprisal or threat of reprisal for so doing. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 8.

  • Although this does not apply directly to an s. 1 complaint of discrimination, elsewhere in the Act, the harm the legislation is intended to avoid cannot interfere with a person's freedom of expression:

Announced intention to discriminate

13. (1) <> A right under Part I is infringed by a person who publishes or displays before the public or causes the publication or display before the public of any notice, sign, symbol, emblem, or other similar representation that indicates the intention of the person to infringe a right under Part I or that is intended by the person to incite the infringement of a right under Part I. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 13 (1).


(2) <> Subsection (1) shall not interfere with freedom of expression of opinion. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 13 (2).

  • Although not in our context, the law recognizes the ground of "public decency". [This notion is also mentioned in the BC legislation] [NOTE: we need to research "public decency" - how is it defined, where does it come from, in what circumstances is it invoked etc.]

Restriction of facilities by sex

20. (1) <> The right under section 1 to equal treatment with respect to services and facilities without discrimination because of sex is not infringed where the use of the services or facilities is restricted to persons of the same sex on the ground of public decency. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 20 (1).

Q: In particular, in Ontario, I am interested trying to understand what sort of speech is now seen as a violation of the policy.

A: None, that I have come across so far.

Q: Is this policy statement law or de facto the law because it is all we have got and it is untested?

A: At this point, I think that any statement that goes beyond protecting a woman's right to breastfeed in a public space is policy only and not supported by the law.

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