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Description: Dialog about getting Tech Services staff to relate personally to recreation staff. Status: Open Department: Categories: Rink, Enforcement Opened: Closed: Next:

Fresh start at rink continued: December and January

From Jutta Mason to Lucy Stern, manager of community engagement, January 15, 2007

Thanks, Lucy, for e-mailing Anne.

But I think there's been a misunderstanding. Tech Services has no particular role in public relations that I am aware of. I'm asking that they talk to their colleagues when they're at a rink, which up until now they almost never do. This assumes that tech services workers are colleagues to all city rink staff, not only to Local 416 old-timers.

If tech services staff regard on-site rink staff as being in a different silo, not important enough to communicate with, that is a puzzle. The point of the job, after all, is to be stewards of public resources like rinks -- and its a shared responsibility that can be carried out with collegial courtesy.

I am not asking for tech services staff to do better public relations with me -- John Abela has been very courteous. I am pointing to a problem, as an outside/insider who is amazed at a corporate culture where tech services almost never speak to the on-site rink staff. How odd.

From Lucy Stern, manager of community engagement, to Jutta Mason January 15, 2007

I followed up with Anne Mara the Director in charge of the tech staff. She has emailed her managers to ensure customer services/public relations improve.

Please keep me posted if there are any further issues.

From Lucy Stern, manager of community engagement, to Jutta Mason (she was cc'd on the letter below), Dec.5 2006

I shall follow up when I return from vacation.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Dec.4 2006

Tino, on Nov.29, aI asked you to send a question on to Kevin Bowser, since he doesn't respond to me. The question is whether management declines to instruct tech services staff to communicate with on-site rink staff. Last Wednesday, Christina (rec staff at rink) asked one of the tech services staff what he was doing and he said "just doing my job," and left. That is not satisfactory communication between co-workers (which they are).

Could you let me know if there has been any response to my question?

Telephone response from Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro to Jutta Mason, Dec.4 2006

Tino said he forwarded the Nov.29 e-mail to Kevin Bowser, and now he forwarded this one.

From City rinks manager Kevin Bowser to Jutta Mason, Dec.5 2006

Sorry it's taken so long for me to reply. I've had a couple of conversations with Brian Green who has brought me up to speed on meetings held at the rink and I understand that, in spite of the weather conditions last week, the facility at Dufferin Grove was opened this past Saturday.

As we discussed at our last meeting it is important for the ice maintenance staff to communicate with those on site, in particular if they are delayed at another rink location that may affect the programs being offered at Dufferin Grove. I assume that the schedule for the rink was provided to Brian Green as requested, in order for staff to implement the appropriate maintenance schedule at the rink that will allow for ice conditions that we committed to.

The staff working on a regular basis at Dufferin Grove are experienced staff, therefore, we are not anticipating any problems at the rink this year.

I had a conversation late last week with John Abela who supervises the refrigeration mechanics for all the rinks in the South District. Our refrigeration mechanics will be inspecting the plant on a daily basis. I have asked John that at any time if the mechanics should find any issues or problems that may interrupt the programs being offered at Dufferin Grove, they notify staff on site immediately. The staff are responsible for rinks right across the entire South District. Inspections are at various times throughout each day and have no effect on the programs being offered at the rink. It's not necessary for mechanics to be spending time tracking down staff on site to inform them that they are visiting and inspecting the refrigeration equipment. It is important, however, for those providing the ice maintenance that affects the day-to-day operation at Dufferin Grove to provide appropriate communication in order for staff on site to deal with the participants on a daily basis. Refrigeration mechanics are responsible for 21 different facilities throughout the South District and are on a tight schedule.

I hope programs are running well at Dufferin Grove and that you have a successful rink season.

From Jutta Mason to City Rinks manager Kevin Bowser, Dec.5 2006

Thanks for your reply. Yes, Brian and Roger made magic and had the rink open on Saturday against all odds. I didn't think they'd be able to do it, but obviously, skaters had more faith than me, and so the rink was full of skaters and hockey players within hours of opening. Ah, cell phones.

Now: the check-in/check-out. I do not agree that the tech services staff have no time to check in. Time is not the issue, since not all of them behave as though they were in a bubble. There are a few tech services staff who behave as colleagues, in the normal way, toward the rec staff.

The simple fact is that some of the tech services staff have been coming and going at rinks for years without speaking to the other staff (not only at Dufferin Rink). This is a management issue and I think management must now make it clear that tech services staff ought to speak to their co-workers.

It's good that you've asked the tech services staff to let on-site staff know immediately when there's a problem that may affect the ice. That's an improvement over other years. But it's not quite enough.

No one is asking the tech services staff to hunt down rec staff when they make their visits. Going inside the change room and saying hello, how are things, I'm going to check the equipment --and then going next door and doing the check, and then coming back through the building and saying, everything's fine -- that will not prevent the tech services staff from getting their work done. Communicating with their colleagues IS part of their work.

If the rec staff person is not in the building, no need to hunt them down. But if, as happened last week, the young rec staff person asks a direct and friendly question, seeking information: "hello, what are you doing?" -- and the response is a put-down, walking away: "I'm just doing my job" -- that's not acceptable as co-worker relations.

I'm happy to report that this is NOT the norm with other trades visiting the park for various reasons. City carpenters, electricians, plumbers, locksmiths, are friendly, and happy to take a minute to explain what they're doing or checking. Sometimes they even ask the rec staff a question about how things are going at the park! They act like colleagues in a joint enterprise -- which is the case, yes?

This issue is important not only to rec staff, but also to the people who use the rink -- many of whom (not only me) have also observed that there seems to be a gulf between the tech services people and everyone else. Parks have no walls and the un-collegial behaviours that I am describing are highly visible. This should now stop.

I believe you have the power and the responsibility as the rinks manager to address this problem and solve it. Until then, I will keep on trying to help make you and other City management aware of the problem.

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Content last modified on November 26, 2007, at 07:09 AM EST