Who Hates Dufferin Grove Park?

    9 November 2006, mid-afternoon

Shima and I were sitting next to this older lady at the Ward 18 debate last night. She came with her family, who were sitting up at the front. Whenever Dufferin Grove Park was mentioned, and it was mentioned often, she would say, “My god it’s a disaster.” She must have called the park a disaster at least 50 times during the course of the night. (The event was co-organized by the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, so candidates were quick to heap praise on the park.) I had always assumed the park was well liked. I mean, who hates a park? Well, apparently people do. I’ll need to dig a bit to find out why. I’ve been to the park once with Shima, and it was full of children playing in a wadding pool and running around having fun. I can’t think of another park downtown like it.

Update Nov 13th 2006: So, apparently Carol Seljak hates the compost toilet at Dufferin Grove park. One of her complaints was that the neighbourhood had not been informed about what is going on in the park with respect to the toilet. The Friends of Dufferin Grove Park counter by pointing out no one opposed to the composting toilet showed up for a meeting to discuss. Adam’s office flyered the area to inform the residents of the development. Shima suspects that the flyers were in English only, and may have been ignored by the Vietnamese and Portuguese community in the area. (It this a valid concern?)

There were two meetings for the park, and the September 12th one came up during the debates at Dewson Public School. A lady informed the audience described it as a hundred people working together without a single voice of opposition. She felt it was a perfect example of democracy in action. I think she should read more.

Update Nov 30th 2006: I met a bunch of the park staff today. One of the staff, Mayssan Shuja-Uddin, emailed me and asked me to come meet the people that run things. I think she thought I was unhappy with how the park was being run. Now, this wasn’t the case, since I don’t really use the park enough to care one way or another how they do things, but I still thought it’d be cool to meet the people behind the park — and it was. Everyone was very friendly. More than that, you can see they want to help, and that the fact they might not be doing everything they can be frustrates them. Myssan found this particular blog post, which is why she emailed me. I can’t imagine more proactive park staff.

I was curious about how representative the park is of the community, and in particular if community concerns were being addressed. The natural assumption to make when I heard people were angry over the changes in the park were that there was a disconnect between the old and new residents in the area. It would seem this isn’t the case. The staff mentioned that the Portuguese community, who would be the older community in the area, is out in full force during the winter, when the rink is open, but don’t use the park much during the summer months. During the summer, the park is dominated by toddlers and their parents for the most part. There is a large wading pool and a jungle gym which I guess are the main draws. Chances are these would be the new members of the community — young families have moved to the area because homes are/were much cheaper than homes elsewhere in Toronto. They mentioned they do get the odd suggestion and complaint from all sorts of people, not just the newer crowd. If old Portuguese matrons can figure out how to voice their worries, I suspect there isn’t a communication issue with the park.

I still want to track down people that actually hate the park. I wish I had spoke more to the lady at the candidates meeting. I still don’t get how you can hate on a park. (There was one person I thought had a legitimate beef with the park, but it turned out she was pretty much just an Internet troll. You can watch as she yells to herself in her own little message board.)

Aside: I can’t speak anymore. Yesterday I could barely get out what was on my mind. I’m like that at work too I find. I think working as a programmer is making me stupid.



  1. There is an ongoing debate about installing a composting toilet on the grounds. Apparently, thereís a bit of bad blood between the newer, ďgranolaĒ (Iíve heard them called) residents and the older members of the community. Was there any discussion about that?

  2. You might have read the park users refereded to as the granola munching set over at Owinís Theories. I read it there when looking for news on the Ward. The toilet came up once or twice. The lady next to me just didnít seem to like the park at all. I donít know if it was the toilet or something else.

    Simon Wookey actually brought the park up first. He was trying to make it clear he loved the park and didnít want to shut any of it down. (Apparently there are rumors going around he is unhappy with the way the park is run. This is perpetuated on the Friends of Dufferin Grove mailing list. When I have time i'll need to go back and read old posts to figure out why they think Wookey doesn't like the park.) He's also been called a NIMBYist, but again, I am not sure where that's coming from after hearing him speak a few times and reading the stuff on his web site.

  3. I came across your blog looking for information on the Friends of Dufferin Grove. I’m the “internet troll” you refer to. I’d be more than happy to discuss with you my concerns with Dufferin Park and how it is managed.

  4. Why not just post your concerns here?

  5. The problem with the park is the overcrowding with pedestrian and vehicular traffic, the overgrown gardens with litter strewn throughout (not to mention a safety concern‚Ķjust try walking through there after dark), declining open green space because of construction projects that are entirely unnecessary, and pow-wows that make our windows shake. Do I hate Dufferin Park? No. But the growing trend is something to be concerned about. Dufferin Park is a neighbourhood park. It‚Äôs not Harbourfront, although on any given summer day it looks like it is. The current biotoilet and Foodshare Garden (two projects that local residents were blind-sided by) are a concern and have raised the question of when is enough enough? The impact these projects and other park activities have on the surrounding homeowners are more significant than the impact they have on people living several blocks away. It’s been difficult for residents to voice their concerns because park projects were organized by park users/volunteers and there was no means in place to oppose or question what they were doing (afterall, they were just using the local city park), but with the trend that’s been going on (in particular the bio-toilet construction project they are attempting to pass off as a volunteer project) we need reconsider how the park is managed and by who it is run.

  6. Hi, Just a quick response about the candidates meeting last year. It was not planned in partnership with the park, it was planned in partnership with the Dufferin Grove Residents Association and their president (Shelia Pin) chaired the meeting. To find info see here. http://www.thedgra.org/

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