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George Smitherman has a lengthy section on Parks and Recreation on his campaign website.
It's encouraging that Mr.Smitherman is interested in parks and public spaces. On Monday September 27, CELOS administrator Jutta Mason went to the campaign office and talked with John Willis, who works on policy for the campaign. She told him that while we think that there are some interesting ideas in his "Recreation Renaissance Plan," on the whole it's too high-level, too flashy, not neighbourhood-oriented enough. But then a week later the news came that if elected, George Smitherman will appoint a panel of seven people including Paul Bedford and John Sewell, to crack the nut that will help parks too:
Perhaps David Harvey's recent report on parks, "Fertile Ground for New Thinking," published by the Metcalf Foundation, helped shape this thinking -- we hope so.
The Globe and Mail: Smitherman proposes panel of brainstorming ‘experts’, October7, 2010
The National Post: What the #!%*? – Reforming City Hall, October 8, 2010.
The Star: Sewell to head reform panel if Smitherman is elected, October 7, 2010.
Joe Pantalone has no specific information about parks and recreation on his website. He does however point to his record of "green" policy development: Read More >>
Rob Ford has no specific material about Parks and Recreation on his website. His support of sports especially for kids and youth is well known, but in his "issues" section, under "protecting our children and communities," the proposal is only to hire 100 additional police officers of which he wants 30 to be posted into schools.
Ford does suggest two measures that may improve Council responsiveness:Read More >>
Four of the five Toronto mayoral candidates came to a scheduled debate at the Brockton Learning Centre for the Ward 18 debates on September 13. Read More >>
"If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves" -- that's an old piece of folk wisdom. That little saying does NOT cover all that a big city needs, but certainly -- in the case of Toronto City Councillors -- if the councillors don't know how to take care of the little things (and it's not easy), the big things will be in lots of trouble.
Right up to election day, CELOS will be asking the councillors specific questions about "little things" relating to parks and public spaces in Ward 18, and publishing their responses.
August 25 2010 to: Ana Bailao, Kevin Beaulieu, Frank DeJong, Joe MacDonald, Hema Vyas.
Dear Ward 18 candidates,
What's your position on city staff collaborating with park users when public funds are being spent for repairs or renovations to public facilities? Are you aware that City Council passed a non-consultation policy last year http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2010/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-26065.pdf, regarding spending on Stimulus Funds projects AND state-of-good-repair projects? (That can include even million-dollar projects.)
-The first thing we need is a change of attitude towards parks. I see Dufferin Grove Park as a big community centre without walls. This is not only a park where people come for a walk. There’s so much activity and programs done here. This is a community centre, and that’s what we need to have in other parks in the area. We need our youth involved, we need our seniors involved, we need our artists involved... Read More >>
-One of the problems with Parks and Recreation’s new policy of non-consultation is that it’s not capped in time. I can understand staff working against a deadline and the pressure that creates, and wanting to streamline things and make sure they get done, because otherwise the money won’t be there to pay for it. But that doesn’t mean you cut out consultation. It means you define things properly, you share with the community what the pressures are, you say, look, we have to arrive here together by whatever time. I think you have to trust people to go along with that. Read More >>
-I want to talk about the park benches. Here’s a local park, and here’s a broken local park bench, and here’s a bunch of people that know how to fix park benches. They’re all standing around this bench, but this bench doesn’t belong to anybody here, it belongs to an organization called the City if Toronto, which a few years ago would have been one of our best friends. At the moment it’s a large hierarchical structure with a whole lot of rules that apply to stuff like allocating resources to get benches fixed. Read More >>
-We live on St.Helens Avenue and I go back and forth through MacGregor Park every day on my way to teach at my school. I was watching the Stimulus-Grant work being done for a couple of months as they dug all around it, thinking, that’s good, the basement will be sound and dry. And then they put up those window screens that made it look like a fortified castle! Brutal. Read More >>
Parks and Recreation is massively underfunded and it’s massively understaffed.
JM: So you feel like $360 million is not enough.
Joe MacDonald: No, I don’t think it’s enough. I wouldn’t want to say, let’s make it a billion, but Parks is one of those divisions that’s last in line for just about everything and they’re kind of okay with it. An $180,000 project in the grand scheme of things is not even spit in the wind. But the $180,000 has real resonance locally. That’s a lot of coin at the local level. Read More >>
- If a public building, like MacGregor field house, has water leaking into the basement, the city has to take steps to preserve the building. It’s old, it’s of value, it’s being used. So the leaking has to be stopped. But the whole process was flawed from the very beginning. What is happening is that the City is going with a one-size-fits-all approach. But all the parks are different. People who use the parks tend to have good ideas of what needs to be done. So as councillor I’d want to talk to park users. We should have meetings in playgrounds. Community consultation is everybody’s buzzword, but how do you do it? Read More >>
Jutta Mason: So what would you do on Dec.1 if you get to City Hall as councillor, and we call you and say – “the floor at MacGregor Park field house wasn’t properly painted, the paint is too thin, we need a few more coats of paint there”?
Ken Wood: My job as City Councillor would be to listen to residents' concerns on ANY isssue and facilitate resolution in any way possible. First step would be to contact senior management in Parks and Rec/Works to see how quickly it could be rectified. I believe that the bureaucracy at City Hall is there to advise on policy when asked and to implement when directed. If action is not taken within a reasonable timeframe (less than a week), I would try to escalate. Failing that, I would use any means necessary which would include taking money out of Councillor Office budget and paying to get it done, hopefully with help from the local community. If it went that far, there would have to be some serious followup as to why, but get the job done first. Read More >>