City Centre Mirror
News of the city strike's likely end caused ripples of relief among those who have been hit hard by the work stoppage, with residents now left to wonder how long it will be before they can fully reclaim their public spaces.
Christie Pits Park was one of the first green spaces used as a temporary dump site, with the Alex Duff ice rink filling with waste from residents within and outside the surrounding area.
Monica Gupta, chair of Friends of Christie Pits Park, has been fighting the use of parks as dump sites since the strike began. She said she was extremely happy that a tentative agreement was reached between the city and staff, but noted that residents will still have to play a waiting game.
"Now I'd like to know the time frame as far as how long it's going to take to get the garbage out of the rink," she said.
Gupta noted that workers will have their hands full when they go back on the job. Not only will they have to clear the garbage out of the temporary dumps, they will also have to resume normal garbage collection at homes - no easy task, considering that many residents have likely stored non-perishable waste in order to keep it out of public spaces.
"There's only a limited number of (garbage) trucks," she said. "It's going to take a while to clean up, and we're prepared for that, but I hope they make it a priority to clean up the dumps first."
Not only are residents around Christie Pits looking forward to having the waste, smell and pesticide concerns removed from their park, they are also eager to return to a sense of normalcy elsewhere in the well-used public space.
"We're ready to get on with our summer and have kids be able to use things like the wading pool and the camps," Gupta said.
Moss Park advocate Debra Meredith said she was unable to sleep Sunday night with word of a potential deal between the city and its striking workers looming, and was thrilled with the news that a tentative deal had been reached. Her joy, however, was tempered by word from the management at the temporary Moss Park dumpsite.
"They told me they're not going to clean the garbage out until the weekend," she said.
Meredith said she was distressed not only with the fact that the local park was used as a dump, but also by the pesticide spraying at the site. Unlike many other temporary dumps, where garbage is stored in enclosed ice rinks, waste at Moss Park is on a basketball court, which allows pesticides and runoff from the trash to bleed into the ground.
She said she hopes residents do not forget the garbage issue once the waste disappears from their local parks.
"The next step is to hold those who made these decisions accountable," she said. "We have to call some people out onto the carpet for this."
A group of concerned residents from various neighbourhoods across the city will gather at Moss Park at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 30 to ensure that their concerns are not ignored.
The strike's probable end comes at a good time for residents of the Lytton Park community near Lawrence Avenue and Avenue Road. A new dump opened in the Otter Creek tennis courts at 140 Cheritan Ave. on Saturday, July 25 following the closure of a nearby site at North Toronto Memorial Arena.
Chris Murray, president of the Lytton Park Residents' Organization, said residents were understandably unhappy with the fact that a local public space was chosen as a temporary dump site but said that "nobody was knocking on my door in outrage."
Murray added that the dump site did not appear to have filled up much - in stark contrast to other sites such as Christie Pits and Moss Park, where bags of trash were piled high.
"I went down to take a look at what they were doing (at the Otter Creek Centre) over the weekend and there was not much there," he said.
The tentative contract had not been ratified by the union or the city as of press time.