For the last fifteen years, various community members have been working with city staff to build Dufferin Grove Park into a lively community commons. In the past year, this effort has come under sustained attack by Parks, Forestry and Recreation management. The front-line staff at the park have been warned that their community connections put them into a situation of conflict of interest, and last week we heard that the long-time Ward 18 recreation supervisor will be removed from this ward. We believe that his transfer to a back office at Metro Hall to work with building cleaners is a punishment for his support of our efforts, and is also meant to send a message to his colleagues.
Have a read of the full letter and response. The reports of Parks & Rec’s attitude of homogeneity and bureaucratic central control over creativity and community collaboration is symptomatic of the industrial age approach to services delivery. Standardization is seen as more efficient. Separation of professionals from stakeholders is seen as a more responsible approach to governance.
What is being lost is the public value of what parks and public spaces are for. The park is not a set of services, it is a space for community. Community is composed of the connections between people and emerges in spaces for individual and community self-expression. By instructing supervisors to be obedient to the Corporation first and seeing community connections as a conflict of interest, this organization may be damaging the very thing it is intended to promote.
If true, and it seems entirely plausible to be true, this cynical approach to the management of public resources is shameful and short-sighted.
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