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Is Dufferin Park plan good value for $2.7 million?

I was curious about Dufferin Park and looked at the planned $2.7 million upgrades from a citizen perspective: Is it good value for the taxpayer investment?  The KPMG report on city efficiencies specifically said the city must improve the value created from its assets.  Some issues made me curious.

With a tennis club and offering lawn bowling, softball and soccer, Dufferin is a destination park. People drive there to play.  The focus with the proposed plan is on a playground. Generally, playgrounds appeal to local moms, dads and kids within walking distance. Yet Dufferin is an older, low-density, wealthy neighbourhood with a problem: half of the catchment area is empty (W. Ross Macdonald School grounds). Does the city assume moms and dads will walk or drive to the revamped park? I would like to see the estimates of users.

Six new tennis courts will be built but no clubhouse. The plan implies the 110-year-old tennis club will fold.  The city will unlock gates and sweep up. Will people lose interest in tennis as no one is recruiting players, offering lessons or hosting events?  What is the forecast number of users in three to five years?  The city could compare the use of five public tennis courts at Lions Park. I fear people will lose interest.

The city is committed to making parks age-friendly. This means providing inviting and engaging spaces for aging residents.  I scoured the Dufferin Park design to see what makes it inviting and engaging for aging residents. I saw a few benches, and no flower beds, no shade or few reasons for seniors to meet, talk and experience something. It also lacks cultural assets, such as an outdoor stage area for plays, movies or music, or anything that could be considered public art.

No clubhouse also means no revenues. What if Dufferin partnered (another KPMG opportunity) to open a Dufferin clubhouse café, offering lunches and coffees to members? If marketed as a cool place for playground parents and seniors, it could earn revenues year-round. This also gives seniors a place to meet. The design shows picnic tables seating 32. With no food services, where does the food come from?

I see many reasons to reconsider design for Dufferin Park. It seems like a solution for yesterday’s problem of 25 years of little investment in tennis, not a business opportunity for the next 20 years as the city grows to a population of 160,000. It is not age-friendly. I think it needs more creativity to engage thousands of residents beyond the summer season to create value worth $2.7 million.

Ed Bernacki, 
Idea Factory,


Research before changing policy

Re: Golf workers lose privileges at city courses (July 30)

Is there something in the drinking water at city hall? First we had council’s decision to sell Arrowdale Golf Course, with no public consultation. Then they suggested charging out-of-town visitors and county residents to use our facilities. And there is the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, all-for-one-and-one-for-all, and never-is-heard-a-discouraging word revised code of conduct rules for members of council and local boards.

Now we learn that parks and recreation is part of public works (huh?) and that workers at the two municipal golf courses have lost their playing privileges. I assume that this rule also applies to Jeff Moore, manager of golf operations and the pro at both courses.

A word of advice to public works GM Inderjit Hans: Successful businesses and corporations conduct their research before implementing major policy changes that affect their employees.

I await with bated breath the next stunning announcement from city hall. Perhaps bike lanes on the BSAR/Veterans Memorial Parkway. Why not, eh?

Cecil Campbell