Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spinning Sewage

As a member of the Task Force to Bring Back the Don, I participate in the semi-annual chore of putting our newsletter together. For the Spring 2009 issue I was responsible for collecting articles and submitting them for publication. Since the Task Force is a City of Toronto organization, we have the advantage of using in-house services to get our newsletter designed, printed and mailed out to the public. The downside of this is that we can't publish anything unless is gets city approval. So nothing too radical and we can't criticize the city.

This imposition arose for one of the articles that we submitted for publication. I thought it would be nice to write an article on the problems with the Coxwell Trunk Sewer which were discovered in January. I asked someone to write an article on the subject. She dutifully researched the article, wrote and submitted a short article.

The article was entitled "Up Shit Creek", a gutsy title that certainly portrays the disaster scenario. I thought this was a little risqué for the Task Force newsletter so I changed it to "Problems Beneath Our Feet".

Subsequent to submission of the article for publishing, we had a response from the city. Toronto Water, who is responsible for the sewer didn't like certain parts of article. In particular was the title and the first paragraph. Staff thought that the title might cause panic amongst East York residents so they rejected that wording. Eventually we decided on "Coxwell Sanitary Trunk Sewer Damage" as a revised title. Maybe I should have left it as "Up Shit Creek".

The first paragraph read: "The Task Force to Bring Back the Don has spent the last 20 years working to make the watershed more clean, green and accessible, but all those efforts may be undermined by a threat that has been growing unseen underneath our very feet."

Staff took exception to the italicized portion and asked for its removal. We decided to revise it to "but these efforts may be undermined by damage to a major sewer line."

Most of our articles get published with little revision but occasionally we ruffle a few feathers in the city bureaucracy. It's not so much a game of give and take but trying to live under the same roof, a relationship we sometimes forget about.


David Sky said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting background. I understand why The City wants to control the message, and thanks for pushing it as far as possible.

While I'm commenting, I've noticed excellent signs along roads in Toronto where they cross a river, with the river name. Do you know who suggested the signs? Who were involved in getting the money for them? Raising the awareness of our rivers and ravines seems an excellent idea, so kudos to whoever it was!

Donwatcher said...

The road signs are an initiative of the Don Watershed Regeneration Council, a volunteer board run by the TRCA. Members of the council have long pushed for these signs and they are now being rolled out throughout the Don watershed. I am not sure whether other watersheds such as the Humber and the Rouge will get signs but it would certainly be nice.

Friends Of Downsview Park said...

Here is a link to a video of the massive snow dumping site the City of Toronto has put up right next Downsview Park.

It is beyond words that this is allowed in a city that portrays itself as being "green" .... the long term effects are terrifying.

Link Is Also Here:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the sign for Taylor-Massey Creek on O'Connor is in the wrong place. It should be over the Woodbine Bridge, but instead it's located at the small ravine that crosses O'Connor between Sandra & Glenview. Is there anyone who can get it moved?