Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis





posted August 21, 2006

Responses to General Concerns Raised

1. Handwashing: The toilet will never have handwashing facilities because it has no plumbing. It has no plumbing because putting in sewage access at the south end of the park is physically impossible due to the existing plumbing configuration, as Georgie found out last year when she made inquiries to Parks, Forestry & Recreation. The dedicated handwashing sink at the cob wall is close enough that it is acceptable to public health. The public health inspector says he has no issues with the design, only with toilet cleanliness once it's built. (See web site report.) He does, however, have an issue with kids urinating all over the place, around the edges of the playground, as they presently do because of the absence of a nearby toilet. The problem is more urgent because the playground is so well used.

2. Wheelchair accessibility: Accessibility is very important in this project. What it requires is willing volunteers to help with the work, willing donors to pay for the materials, and someone to coordinate both, just as in the creation of the rest of the structure. Since wood is quite expensive, building a proper ramp might cost up to $10,000, although a resourceful coordinator can often find materials for donation, reducing the end cost significantly. Volunteers for any of these positions would be welcome; the time and effort these jobs would take would be more than compensated for by park users' appreciation for their efforts. The original plans called for a stroller ramp to be put up in time for opening, with a wheelchair ramp as a project for next year's volunteers.

3. Liability: Toilets do not require special liability provisions. The City's insurance policy covers everything in the park.

4. Repair of the field house toilets: The existing washroom facility in the field house is not broken and so does not need repair. Like many other washrooms in city parks, they are old. Many other parks are scheduled to have washroom upgrading before us. 2012 is the earliest we could dream of it (according to the capital budget). The funds that Georgie raised for the composting toilet are specific to that project and can't be re-allocated -- they did not come out of any capital budget.

5. Year-round opening: There is no chance of either the field house washrooms or the composting toilet being open year-round. Our park already has an extended public washroom season at both ends and it will not get any further extension. This is an operating-budget issue, not a "repair" issue. The rink house washrooms are available in the winter.

6. Police surveillance: The toilet will not obstruct police surveillance (which in any case happens very rarely) any more than existing trees, bushes, and other park buildings obstruct police.

7. Staffing: Dufferin Grove Park has the unusual case of rec staff looking after almost everything. This has been well worked out among experienced staff over the past ten years. Monitoring the toilet for number of users, cranking, cleaning, locking and unlocking the toilet and reporting on its function is already incorporated into their upcoming task list. The rec staff are very committed to this experiment because they have strong environmental interests, and because their job includes addressing the needs of parents with young children.

8. Public meeting: There was a well-advertised public meeting? about the composting toilet project on Sunday June 25 at 3 p.m., on site. Tino DeCastro, Peter Leiss and the Councillor were sent invitations on June 19. The people who attended were predominantly playground users because it is parents of young children who have been asking for a toilet nearby for many years.

9. Open green space: The park is 14.2 acres in size. It includes a number of amenities, like the rink and its change house, the field house, the baseball backstop, the playground and the wading pool. It also has some fenced gardens. That leaves lots of open green space (turf). The addition of a cob structure of less than 100 square feet will not spoil the park.

10. Deterioration of the cob courtyard: Sometimes folk arts which developed over thousands of years are lost in the modern day and have to be regained. In some parts of the cob courtyard, the plaster didn't stick. If one method didn't work out, we need trial and error to find a better way. Also, some of the structure was too easy for kids to climb, so a bit of the wall has been remodelled this summer. This project has been ongoing and required tarps for keeping in the moisture. That stage is now complete; the last stages of re-plastering start tomorrow. The tarps have been gone for several weeks and the courtyard will soon look even more beautiful than it did at last year's opening feast, when almost a thousand people came to celebrate this community achievement.

If the plaster still doesn't stick in those spots, we can try yet another way next year. It's only clay, sand and straw -- no big deal. There are cob structures all over the world which have lasted for hundreds of years. We'll get it right.

Content last modified on October 28, 2009, at 07:31 PM EST