Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

See also Site Map

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





Christie Pits Park Dump picketers listening to the radio.

Governance Notebook

City of Toronto Strike, 2009

On June 22 2009 shortly after midnight, the approximately 24,000 members of Cupe Local 416 and Local 79 went on strike against the City of Toronto. The strike ended in a deal on July 30 2009. This notebook collects related information and local comments from members of the public.

Statement on resumption of City services by City Manager, Joe Pennachetti, July 30 2009:

I am pleased that the City can today provide the public with information on the resumption of City services.

As you know, Local 79 has already ratified the agreement and Local 416 is conducting their ratification vote today. Our plans are based on Local 416 ratification of the agreement.

Services will begin coming back online at midnight tonight.



Related Information

How City services were affected/ Information on garbage collection

CUPE Local 79 Dispelling The Myth: The City Of Toronto's Short Term Disability Plan Offer

The Previous Collective Agreement

CUPE Local 79: Attendance Management Memorandum

City of Toronto site discusses pesticide and odour-control spraying at dump sites. It also includes a Q & A section.


Comments from neighbourhood e-lists

(313 e-mails)

September 8, 2009
K. H. wrote:

At times we must cut politicians some slack in learning about what is important. The health and vibrancy of city parks is certainly this and a top priority of the citizens of Toronto. Thanks to the dedication of the people of the Christie Pits neighbourhood and other neighbourhoods that spoke out on this issue, there has been a successful social-political lesson to city politicians. If they have learned this lesson well they will take action to make sure that there will be a very clear and well communicated mandate at the municipal level that cities cannot allow public parks to be used has dump sites. There are alternatives to be put in place before this is ever allowed to happen again. It should not happen again. The public is more and more environmentally educated and astute. Toronto's citizens will be watching with interest to see what politicians step up and create solutions and put public policy in place to cherish and nurture our beautiful ( but currently recovering) city parks. This past summer of using public parks has dumpsites was too painful to see and is too damaging to the health and wellness of our wonderful city to allow again. I think and sincerely hope the politicians got the message on this one. Toronto depends on it's healthy park systems for a healthy city. Lets give all the councillors who want to help this our support.

Rev. Karen Harrison, Torontonian park lover

p.s. Please put your ice cream containers in the recycling bins....recently I saved a little park squirrel from choking because his head was stuck. Parks are not only for the human species.

September 7, 2009
M. G. wrote:

This article was in the Globe and Mail for Monday September 7th. It states that Councillor Sandra Bussin (Ward 32 Beaches-East York) wants a policy restricting temporary dumpsites to commercial or industrial city properties...not parks. It also states that Councillor Joe Pantalone would support such a policy and has approached city managers to review such a policy. I know there are other Councillors out there who would support the same policy. There is also concern that City Managers didn't consult any Councillors or the Parks Department before choosing sites. I believe more communication between Managers, Councillors and Divisions is also required.

I would like to ask everyone to read the article and to support such a policy change. We need to let the City Managers know we do not want to see this ever happen again.

Please let your Councillor know you want them to support a motion to seek a ban on using parks as dumps.

G. K. wrote:

The heat that Joe took is not nearly what it should have been. He admits that he tried to stop the dumping in Christie Pits “after the fact.” We all know how effective he was in that effort. Question is--where was he BEFORE the fact, when his constituency really needed an advocate? His “one size may not fit all” rhetoric regarding parks as dumps seems already to be taking the teeth out of the proposed policy—and it demonstrates that he still just doesn’t get it.

We know all too well that the city managers are not above manipulating, equivocating, and circumventing existing ordinances in order to dump where they damn well please. The language needs to be emphatic and unmitigated: parks are not dumps—under any circumstances. Failing that, I’m afraid that again we’ll find ourselves up to our ankles in leachate, and hollow excuses.

August 3, 2009, 4 e-mail

J. F. wrote:

Hi All, Sending you photos of Campbell, after the so called clean up. This is enough to make you sick. Please scroll down to few photos. in the beginning they are blank, scroll down to see photos. Do you want your children and pet around this.


July 31, 2009, 1 e-mail

Adam Giambrone wrote:

Dear resident,

Throughout this difficult strike over the past six weeks, the City of Toronto has been seeking to negotiate a new collective agreement with union Locals 79 and 416 that is responsible and affordable for Torontonians, is fair to employees, and which enables the City to provide quality services and programs in an efficient and effective manner. The collective agreement approved on Friday, July 31, 2009 achieves these goals and is consistent with the bargaining position that the Employee and Labour Relations Committee directed the City's negotiating team to take.

This agreement, while being fair to our employees, is nonetheless among the most, perhaps the most affordable collective agreements of any of the new contracts signed in the public sector since 2007, including other municipalities in the GTA as well as both the Provincial and Federal agreements. Its key provisions include:

July 30, 2009, 4 e-mail

M. G. wrote:

Now that the strike is coming to an end I would like to invite everyone to the park to discuss what's next for Friends of Christie Pits Park.

I am so impressed with everyone who calls themselves a Friend. You have shown the City that we are a unified group who share a real concern about our community. I also feel that of all things, garbage, has brought our community together (and I thought pizza was all we needed).

Please join me to meet and greet all the great people in our community. Please bring your kids and a picnic blanket and enjoy the park.

Meet and Greet Wednesday July 29th Christie Pits Park Pavillion 7p.m. Snacks to be provided (please bring your own drink)

Agenda items to include; How to keep parks off the list for future strikes, Summer Picnic Party Sunday August 16th, AGM September.

See you in the park,

July 27, 2009, 3 e-mails

J. H. wrote:

Here's an interesting and surprisingly engaging Mike Moore-style documentary exposing the failures of the Toronto dumps to contain toxins. If you live in Toronto you need to see this.


If you want to send this to your list use Bcc, seriously.


July 26, 2009, 4 e-mails

Boris Steipe wrote:

Yesterday evening's deployment of a pumping truck has apparently removed only about half of the leachate at the Christie Pits site. (Images attached).

As of this morning, 10:00 am, fluids are escaping past the sorbent socks into the grounds on all sides. These effluents are entering the soil and groundwater as I type this mail. Further fluids are still trickling audibly into the basin at the front of the rink.

King City weather radar is showing an approaching storm with peak rainfall over 50mm/hr. http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/radar/index_e.html?id=WKR

As always, I can provide high-resolution images if needed.

Kind regards, Boris Steipe

Christie Pits, Sunday, July 26. 2009, 10:00 a.m, overview
of site: pooled leachate.

Christie Pits, Sunday, July 26. 2009, 10:00 a.m, threshold at
front of rink. Estimated depth of pooled leachate:
about 1.5cm.)

July 25, 2009, 3 e-mail

Boris Steipe

After the last rain shower, right now 17:30 pm on Saturday July 25. the rink is literally overflowing. Water is pushed over the threshold at the southern gate, into the storm sewers. Swaths of oily liquid are being discharged. As well, liquid is escaping at multiple points around the perimeter.

The sorbent socks have been saturated for days and are holding back nothing. The covered storm sewer grilles on the west and north sides are likewise holding nothing back.

I have some HD footage ...

Boris PS. Of course, regarding run-off, Christie Pits is actually one of the better controlled sites. Moss park doesn't have any barrier to speak of, Sunnyside's barriers have been ineffective from the beginning... etc.)

July 24, 2009, 8 emails

Boris Steipe wrote:

Good morning, Thank you for your detailed response, I appreciate the time you

took to prepare it.

According to your response and the evidence I have sent you, it

appears that the City is currently in violation of your requirements regarding temporary garbage dump sites. The sites I have pointed out are structurally unsound to be used in this way and the technical measures applied by the city appear to have been totally inadequate.

July 23, 2009, 5 e-mail

H. S. wrote:

Good Morning Friends of All Toronto Parks,

In Windsor, CUPE and The City there apparently have a tentative agreement and the voting begins tomorrow. Hopefully there is some spillover effect and the TOStrike ends soon.

Yesterday evening, members of the Friends of Campbell Park formed a human chain, literally locking themselves using a link metal chain and locks to the blue fence entrance of the Campbell Park dump site entrance.


July 22, 2009, 4 e-mails


Christie Pits, Wednesday, July 22. 2009, morning,
northwest corner of ice rink. Run-off and residual pooling on
concrete skirt.

Christie Pits, Wednesday, July 22. 2009, morning,
pooled sample of effluents

Christie Pits, Wednesday, July 22. 2009, morning,
north side of ice rink. Compare with images in my previous
mail: this is a spot where effluents appeared throughout the
dry period, the liquids are now seeping beneath the booms
into the ground. The storm sewer there is covered with a
rubber mat but there was no retention of precipitation
or effluents whatsoever.

Christie Pits, Wednesday, July 22. 2009, morning,
detail of above.

July 21, 2009, 11 e-mails

M. G. wrote:

This email came yesterday and I found it really interesting. If it is true, then I feel this is really telling of how our government operates. I find it really surprising that they really thought the Christie Pits neighbourhood would just sit back and let it happen.

Friends of Christie Pits Park has been watching the strike and the garbage piling up in parks around Toronto for the past 29 days. Please don't mistaken our silence for acceptance. I think we are all suffering from PROTEST FATIGUE.

Residents have been forced to do with less for much too long. Christie Pits Park is missing three outdoor pools, a vibrant wading pool, a pizza oven to have picnics around, day camps for over 300 children, a working water fountain and any public washroom.

We want to see a resolution to the strike soon.


July 20, 2009, 6 e-mails

R. K. wrote:

A few people have said they appreciate getting alternative views of the City strike. Here are a number of links that may be of interest:

"Incomplete information turns the public against CUPE strikers" by John Bonnar http://tinyurl.com/o6fkuq

Toronto Labour Council -- City strike bulletin #1 http://tinyurl.com/m84xbc

Toronto Labour Council -- City strike bulletin #2 http://tinyurl.com/n2c22g

"Finance Corporation Organizes Anti-CUPE Rally" http://tinyurl.com/nv62ut

B. L. wrote:

Thanks for the links. Here is another that tells a somewhat different story.


R. K. wrote:

Sorry, here's a piece I missed the first time around:

"City crosses the line by using scabs" by Gary Shaul http://tinyurl.com/mn4otj

That's a lot of reading. I'll hold off on the links for a while.

A. M. wrote:

I think it's possible to be pro-labour yet also maintain a critical eye.

Just a couple of points in to follow up on my earlier posting and some of the responses. R. is correct. Not one NDP or progressive councilor has broken with the city to support CUPE. Not even Paula Fletcher, die hard union supporter, whose husband is John Cartright, President of the Toronto and Region Labour Council. I think that is telling.

David Miller did win election with the support of CUPE. Raghu seems to be suggesting that the union is entitled to some sort of tangible payback for that support.

July 19, 2009, 2 e-mails

M. W. wrote:

You may have to contact one of the unions to give you the names of the cases where the right to hold people has been upheld.

I've looked for that info from the Labour Board and Ministry of Labour website and cannot find individual cases.

A labour lawyer who specializes in collective bargaining would also have information about the cases that pertain to legal pickets.

My information comes from police websites based in different parts of the country. The information on these sites was for keeping people safe around picket lines, thus outlined some of the precedence based laws around picketing

My question is: WHY the heck isn't the media giving clear information about legal strikes, the right to picket, and legal hold times?

This is the only reference I have found regarding precedence based wait times is http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/655759 and it isn't explained or referenced at all.

So far, I read so many editorials and comments referring to the union's behavior as "illegal". I am so frustrated, if people had an understanding of their own rights, the rights of the picketers, the actual cost of services through the city, where their taxes go, the actual pay of different members of the union, there would not be so much animosity building.

Even if people disagree with the strike, understanding all citizens rights and responsibilities could alleviate a lot of negativity.

A little information could go a long way.

July 18, 2009, 9 e-mail

B. L. wrote:

I have looked for the law that allows pickets to detain vehicles for 30 mins and have been unable to find it anywhere. Can someone provide a link or a source for this?

July 17, 2009, 20 e-mails

B. S. wrote:

Rod Adams | "Access Toronto"
Ontario Ministry of the Environment | City of Toronto
Spills Action Centre | Strike Command Centre
Friday, July 17. 2009

Dear Rod Adams, Dear "Access Toronto",

This is an update on yesterday's correspondence regarding apparent leachate run-off from several temporary dump sites of the City of Toronto. (Images attached).

The Strike Command Centre has informed me that more work on the booms and sorbent material would be done on Thursday morning (July 16.) No such work was done at the Christie Pits dump, where the booms lay yesterday evening as I found them last Sunday. Meanwhile leachate has pooled in the decomposing leaves outside the rink (see image) from where it will be washed into the ground/storm sewers with the next rainshower.

At Moss park, I can confirm that additional sorbent material has been applied, as announced by Strike Command Thursday morning following my alert. However, by evening, the leaking fluids had saturated the sorbent and the yellowing of the grass has increased. Note that there was no rainfall yesterday, it appears that the source of these effluents are the bags themselves, respectively whatever has pooled beneath them.

At Sunnyside, a rubber mat has been placed over the storm grille, held in place with a sandbag. I believe it is apparent from the image that no watertight seal can be expected. The question remains what the state of the grilles is that appear to be buried underneath the garbage piles.

Prophylactically, I am also alerting you to the situation at Campbell Playground. Washed out residue indicates the path the leaking fluids will be taking as they escape from the rink. There were no protections in place as of yesterday at noon.

If you need high-resolution images or any other information, just let me know.

I have not visited other sites except these four, but I have noted problems at all four sites. The forecast for today and tomorrow is for rain showers, possibly storms. I would be interested in your assessment regarding the suitability of the sites and the adequacy of the measures that are being taken, both in response to my alerts, and in response to your own monitoring.

===== Images =============

Christie Pits, North Side of Ice Rink.
Thursday, July 16 2009, evening.
Pooling of leachate that has escaped the rink on
the outside despite five days of warm, dry weather.

Moss Park, Thursday, July 16 2009, around 7:30 p.m.
Several views of additional sorbent at edge of the
basketball court/garbage storage. Sorbent has been
saturated within less than 12 hours.
Increased yellowing of grass.

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.


July 15, 2009, 26 e-mails

B. S. wrote:

Sent to accesstoronto@toronto.ca (Correspondent did not sign message)

Dear "Access Toronto",

In response to the "environmental point of view" you have outlined in your reply, and the claim that there are "no liquid run-offs", I would like to draw your attention to the images I have attached.

The two images of the Christie Park ice rink were taken Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. They show traces of leachate that has run off underneath the sorbent booms after Saturday's rainfall, the concrete skirt is still wet on the top and on the sides.

The image of Moss park shows one of the many spots around the perimeter of the basketball court. Here leachate is seeping out from the mulch into the grass, the margin of the contaminated spot shows grass that appears yellowed, dry and dead.

The two image from Casimir Gzowski park/Sunnyside taken Tuesday evening show two views of traces 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.

As you know these fluids escape from the leaking bags, are transported by rainwater and also contain insecticides and disinfectants residues of the pest-control program.

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

==== Images ====

Christie Pits July 12 (a)

Christie Pits July 12 (b)

Moss Park, July 13

Sunnyside July 14 (a)

Sunnyside July 14 (b)

July 14, 2009, 6 e-mails

E. G. wrote:

When I got the email saying that houses on Havelock have received notices that the soccer field would begin being used as a temporary dump, I was concerned and emailed our councilor and his assistant Chris. I was very impressed with the speed that they responded and conducted research of their own. There was a fast flurry of emails and so far - nothing has been turned up. I also phoned a couple friends that live on Havelock and neither of them received this notice. If anyone receives such a notice, I would be pleased if they'd scan it for us or contact the councillor.

If anyone notices anything, a fence being erected or notices, please let us know.

It appears the concern was a tad premature.

Let's hope the negotiations happen in earnest and we go back to enjoying city run services.

July 13, 2009, 17 e-mails

M. T. wrote:

I support this – I feel there must be a legal route that we can take and that there must be some individual or group out there that would be interested in doing this pro bono.

M. G. wrote:

Rally is today at Moss Park at 5 pm.

I've rec'd confirmation City TV, CP24, Global and Toronto Sun will be there!

Please show your support for Toronto Parks.....Parks are not Dumps!

July 12, 2009, 1 email

B. S. wrote:

I carried one bag of garbage from our Christie Pits dump to the Commissioners Street Transfer station yesterday. Several neighbours and friends came along. HiMY document the entire walk and in the shortest time created an outstanding documentation; his images and clips are on the Torontopedia Wiki and on Flikr, along with links to the media who picked the story up on Saturday and Sunday.



Thank you to all who were there and helped in person and in spirit.

July 11, 2009, 2 e-mail

From: Councillor Adam Vaughan

Dear residents,

A special e-newsletter listing summer day programs for children in Ward 20 is attached in PDF format.

Best regards,

July 10, 2009, 6 e-mails

K. H. wrote:

Haven't read the whole gist of B.s' Garbage Walk idea but I think this is an excellent idea if we could network throughout the city with all the communities across Toronto using the networks of the environmental groups such has TEA and Greenpeace, Environmental Defence etc. I think it would make a wonderful Citizen's Statement. If you like Boris, I will work with you and an organizing core group to get such a walk together. We may even have fun with such a citizen's action by getting the politicians and the union to walk together....now that is subversive! Maybe we could settle the strike on the walk!

Would you like to give it a go and organize?

Toronto's Garbage Walk 2009...ofcourse the bicycle networks could come to ...Critical Mass.

July 9, 2009, 2 e-mail

A. A. wrote:

First, thank You so much for your work and advocacy and mobilization in combating the City’s use of Christie Pits Park parks space as a dump. The Nook children and their families greatly appreciate that someone is speaking out on behalf of the park space.

I am writing regarding another urgent Christie Pits Park community matter. As you know I am with the Nook Children's Program, an operation that is part of the Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre. We serve many of the families in our neighbourhood and recently our membership has increased due to many families facing financial instability and needing access to free quality programming. This summer our children’s program is operating at capacity with 75 children enrolled.

July 8, 2009, 5 e-mails

B. S. wrote:

Yesterday I posted about four paths to move on.

Here's an update on that:

Wrap it up

I've tried to get information from the City: who can I talk to regarding health- and waste-management aspects of better containment in a foil wrap. So far I've not received contact information - or any other response.

Get an injunction

We would need an expert who is credible as the source of an affidavit about the hazards to health and environment of the dump, and who is willing to be cross-examined at court. Negatives so far, will keep asking.

July 7, 2009, 8 e-mails

C. S. wrote:

Here is an example of the illegal dumping at the park. There is more beside the East fence.

(If you look closely, you can see the "President's Choice Green" logo on the garbage bags. Wonder if the criminal who dumped these bags understands the hypocrisy of their actions?)

July 6, 2009, 5 e-mails

From: Councillor Vaughan

Councillor Adam Vaughan and Scadding Court Community Centre Open a Community Compost Site for Ward 20

Toronto- As we enter the third week of the strike by City workers many Toronto residents are looking for sustainable ways to manage the trash build up in their homes and communities.

Although the City is not collecting organic waste during the labour disruption - Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) has partnered with the Scadding Court Community Centre to set up a Community Compost Site for local residents.

Starting on Monday July 6th, the staff and community gardeners at Scadding Court Community Centre invite Ward 20 residents to bring their organic waste to their compost site.

Councillor Vaughan hopes that " this partnership will help us to build our parks and community programming in spite of the strike instead of damaging precious neighbourhood resources."

July 5, 2009, 11 e-mails

B. K. wrote:

We have done two runs to Christie Pits already (mostly green bin) and did not wait at all. Yesterday, my husband observed a skating rink that was not full.

I'm afraid to keep any amount of garbage outside however wrapped, because raccoons usually get at it and we have a history with mice.

Some streets seem to be getting dumpsters and that seems to be a good idea for those who can afford to chip in.

Composters seem like a good idea too, but I was never able to get anything from mine - didn't know how to use it correctly when I had it, is my best guess.

I will just hunt for the closest site, I guess. Good luck with your choice of site.

July 4, 2009, 16 e-mails

B. S. wrote:

CUPE rally at the Dump, right now, about 100 supporters marching in a circle, flags, traffic jam ...

S. M. wrote:

Are residents still blocking pesticides? B. said it was CUPE, but this article and more http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/660847 say it's residents as well. Can you clarify please?


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Content last modified on May 28, 2011, at 12:15 AM EST