Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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July 16, 2009, 6 e-mails

B. S. wrote:

FYI - Similar to what I sent to the City yesterday, but includes the response I received from the Strike Action Centre this morning. B.

Christie Pits July 12 (a)

Ontario Ministry of the Environment Spills Action Centre

Dear Rod Adams,

I am writing at the suggestion of the District Supervisor to inform you of instances of apparent leachate run-off from several temporary dump sites of the City of Toronto. (Images attached).

The two images of the Christie Park ice rink were taken Sunday afternoon (July 12. 2009) at 2:00 p.m. They show traces of leachate that has run off underneath the sorbent booms after Saturday's showers, the concrete skirt is wet on the top and on the sides from seeping fluids while it has dried off at adjacent spots. Christie Pits - like all ice-rink arenas - is not a watertight enclosure and while run-off is delayed, ultimately the fluids that drain from the punctured bags as well as the pesticides and disinfectants, seep out from multiple locations. Evidently, the sorbent booms are not sufficient to contain this.

Christie Pits July 12 (b)

Moss Park, July 13

The image of Moss park was taken on Monday, July 13. 2009. It shows one of many spots around the perimeter of the basketball court where effluents from the stored garbage are entering the ground. At Moss Park, garbage is piled on a thin layer of mulch; the stacks are now about 3m high on the basketball court and reach to the edge of the grass. The image shows leachate seeping from the mulch into the grass, the margin of the contaminated spot shows grass that appears yellowed, dry and dead.


Sunnyside July 14 (a)

Sunnyside July 14 (b)

The two images from Casimir Gzowski park/Sunnyside were taken Tuesday evening, July 13. 2009. They show two views of a trickle of leachate running out from the pile of garbage bags into what appears to be a storm sewer, about 50 m. from the lakeshore. Note the debris that was washed to the edge of the sewer grille, likely carried there by rainwater run-off. I believe that at least one other grille may in fact lie beneath the pile of garbage bags. If you navigate to the coordinates 43.637191, -79.460826 - or http://tinyurl.com/SunnysideGrille on a Google satellite map at the highest resolution, you will see a dark spot west of the arrow that appears to be a grille on the asphalt. As far as I could tell on Tuesday, this spot is now beneath the bags. As you know, even if that grille would have been covered with a rubber sheet, such sheets do not provide a watertight seal.

I will be happy to provide you with high-resolution images and any other information that would be helpful.

The City's Strike Command Centre has e-mailed me this morning (9:45:52 AM, no correspondent or reference indicated) in response to a similar alert I sent yesterday: - that the situation at Sunnyside is being reviewed, the catch basin will be covered and additional sorbent applied - if needed; - that there is a plan to adjust the booms and apply more sorbent at Christie Pits this morning; and - the same will be done at Moss Park.

I am not in a position to evaluate whether these measures are sufficient; however, what was done up to now, based on "regular monitoring and assessment", does not appear to have contained the problem.

As a resident living only a few steps away from the Christie Pits dump, I would appreciate to hear about your assessment of the situation and what further steps are being undertaken.

A. H. wrote:

Dear Mayor Miller,

I think it is absolutely disgusting that your government continues to designate parks as suitable places for garbage dumping. I have written to you twice already and I know many others who have written and I am really deeply disappointed that our pleas and arguments have fallen on deaf ears.

I thought you were going to be a different sort of mayor. But the way this strike has been handled from the point of view of citizens who rely on parks for so many summer activities sickens me and smacks of the same old story.

I have just heard that Campbell Park is now to receive garbage. Have you ever been to Campbell Park? The rink in this park, like the one in Christie Pits, is literally steps from people's homes and gardens. I really have to ask myself whether you would tolerate having garbage pile up and be sprayed so close to your home. I am outraged!

In addition to being a small neighbourhood park, Campbell Park is the venue for children's soccer games as is Christie Pits. But due to its much smaller size, Campbell will no longer be the location for these games as there is simply no way to set up games far enough away from the rink. I feel so sorry for the people living around that park and especially for those whose backyards are adjacent to the park.

Unless you reverse this decision, I will not be able to vote for you in future. I thought you had a great career ahead of you with political promise on the national scene. But really I do not see anything on your part to take your constituents' concerns seriously. This ploy of dumping garbage in our parks has not made me cross with the union, CUPE; rather, it has completely undermined my confidence in your administration. You have so many other options for temporary dump sites and yet you continue to disregard our concerns and dump trash in our parks. Then, you spray them with permetherin which is toxic to fish (with at least five sites on water bodies in the city that in itself is actionable) and toxic to the honey bees (again in itself actionable) and toxic to cats and other small mammals.

David, I've met you and chatted with you before. I was impressed. I really can't understand why you are refusing to take a stand here and develop an alternative strategy to contaminating the parks. Many voices have suggested municipal parking lots. What's the problem with using them?

Here was/is an opportunity to show real leadership by for example establishing a citizens' round table for temporary garbage storage. Invite some of the active citizens and community leaders who have been complaining about the problem. Many of these people have not only the passion but also the expertise to help you find a solution that works best for everyone.

I beg you to reconsider your position.

Deeply disappointed,

B. K. wrote:

My understanding is that the sick-day arrangement was reached as a tradeoff for many years of wage freezes. Also, I see nothing scandalous about banking sick days to get (by the way, only partially and with various restrictions) what amounts to a few weeks of severance pay after performing essential, ungratifying and often physically demanding jobs for so many years. Decent severance and retirement provisions should be entrenched in law for all workers; we are sadly a long way off from that goal and a defeat for City workers in this strike will set this broader cause even further back.

Plus, as others have also pointed out, there are many more issues than sick days involved in this strike.

The City clearly went into this with the specific objective of rolling back their workers' contracts on a number of fronts. Perhaps Miller and company weren't expecting such a strong response from unionized staff. I for one am very impressed that City workers have stood their ground for so long -- despite the hostile media coverage and unfavorable political and economic climate, not to mention the hardship this creates for the workers themselves and their families.

The best way to end this strike is for the City to withdraw its package of rollbacks and negotiate a fair deal with the people who make this city work.

C. wrote:

Excellent points. And again, much more important then my daughters missing summer camp.

B. L. wrote:

"The City clearly went into this with the specific objective of rolling back their workers' contracts on a number of fronts."

Actually, that is not so clear. Other than the sick days, what are the main issues? Seniority? Nope. Working conditions? Nope. Health benefits? Nope.

The only other issue is wage increases. Perhaps you cab point out the rollbacks that the City is asking for, other than generously buying out the "sick days".

Kc. wrote:

There would be a lot less 'hostile' media coverage if the strikers themselves were not inviting it. Their behavior at the transfer stations and the dumpsites is reprehensible, not to mention illegal. Do you not think more people would be using the transfer stations instead of the parks if they did not have to face a 5 hour wait and terrible harrassment from strikers? The story maybe a week back or so about the gentleman who was being personally harrassed and threatened at his home and had some vandalism done to his property because he is a private garbage collector was shocking to me. People on strike can use many methods to try to gain public support but gangster tactics shouldn't be among them.

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Content last modified on July 17, 2009, at 09:26 PM EST