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Today at Regent Rink I met with Matt Cutler, Parks and Rec's Manager of Issues Management and Partnerships. Also at the meeting were Zahrah Munas, the founder of Friends Regent Park, and Courtney Sweet, from Daniels Corp. Matt came to discuss the city's response to David Rothberg's offer of $3000.
Matt restated our proposal as 1. skate lending whenever the rink is open 2. done by existing rink staff 3. in time for the holidays and 4. at Regent Rink. This is indeed our proposal, and the one David R. said he wants to fund. Last Friday, I brought Matt the possible timeline and budget of how skate lending could work using city staff, in time for the holidays. It's here.
Apparently recreation management feel that bundling the four things together in our proposal means we're inflexible, not leaving room for negotiation. Matt said there's a principle at issue: donors can't just come in and dictate what will be done with their donation.
Matt said management would prefer if external partners -- such as Friends of Regent Park, Daniels Corp, Artscape and MLSA -- would do the actual programs. That means there could be one-off skate lending at events set up by such partners, but not skate lending run continuously by city rink staff, as in real skate lending programs.
Matt brought up the high cost of doing programs like those at Dufferin Grove. CELOS has addressed the issue of costs many times, most recently here. So far city staff have not wanted to talk about these numbers.
Matt said Parks and Rec management are not saying a definite NO to our proposal -- they plan to discuss it some more. I'm guessing that's "issues management."
Therefore -- not wishing to stay in this game -- we want to give the whole skate/helmet/stick collection to Friends of Regent Park. They can then partner with Daniels, Artscape, MLSE and City staff, to put on three winter skating events. In between, Centennial College's Environmental Student Society (Scarborough) needs the skates for two events, probably once in January and once in February, and will take care of picking them up and returning them.
As discussed with Mitch Cohen on Monday, a portion of David Rothberg's donation can let the event planners hire some experienced skate lending helpers for the events, and also give honoraria to youth who assist.
Meantime, rink staff at Regent Park, and across the city, will be continuing on exactly as before. And the rinks will be less fun -- too bad!