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The "core business" of Parks and Recreation


There's a little history of what staff used to do in Toronto's parks here.

Most of the traditional activities in Toronto’s playgrounds were stopped some time ago. Where are the plentiful in-house sports leagues and athletic meets, the cross-city hockey tournaments? Toronto’s recreation staff no longer run any house leagues or tournaments. Where are the staff-run festivals and folk dancing competitions? None are left. And the cross-city treasure-hunt with roasted potatoes over a campfire? Long gone. The pick-up football games organized by the play leaders, or the storytelling sessions? No longer part of the city's “approved organizational standards.” PFR management has eliminated most of the traditional staff-run activities in Toronto playgrounds. Some have disappeared entirely, and the rest have been downloaded to clubs or associations, who now pay permit fees for permission to do what Parks and Rec staff formerly did themselves.


Recreation managers say that city-run skate lending, for instance, is the kind of direct programming that is no longer part of their council-approved "core business." When did councillors debate this?

Googling "core business" of parks and recreation brings this link, but it's hard to find anything specific that could speak for or against particular programs like skate lending. Maybe this:



A Service Review Program was initiated by City Council in April 2011 in preparation for the 2012 Budget Process and to address a budget gap of $774 million. The Service Review Program includes three components:

-a Core Service Review which examined what services the City should be delivering and at what level;

-a User Fee Review which examined the extent to which the City's user fees are fair and collect the full cost of providing the service; and

- the Service Efficiency Studies which examine how specific City services are delivered to ensure the most efficient and cost effective service delivery.

Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division is one of eleven studies undertaken in 2011. ......

By taking a closer look at the services offered, this Service Efficiency Study will help PF&R and the City identify and obtain a set of options and recommendations aimed at delivering maximum service efficiency savings in the shortest period of time while focusing on core business

The following describes the proposed recreation program delivery model that should be assessed:

• In general PF&R will focus the direct delivery of registered recreation programs on those that are introductory, entry level or learn-to type of program. These will be considered as the core recreation programs for direct delivery by the Division.

Future drop-in programming opportunities provided by PF&R should be considered to complement the direct provision of core recreation programs and as such should focus on opportunities for residents to participate in leisure oriented activities that require minimal staff supervision.

It will be interesting to find how long Council spent discussing this idea of making drop-in programs low in staffing. What would have been the reasoning? Only that registered programs could take in money?

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Content last modified on January 22, 2018, at 08:34 PM EST