Thursday, September 30, 2010

311 and the Don

Tree down across path in Moore Park Ravine

One of the big problems with the Toronto's city bureaucracy is that is, well, big. There are approximately 50,000 employees doing a multitude of tasks that keep the city running smoothly (more or less). There is a raft of divisions and departments from Parks and Recreation to Culture, Social Services, Transportation, to name a few. Each of these divisions are subdivided in complex ways that make them labyrinthine and hard to connect. In addition there is not enough communication between them which makes some tasks even more difficult. I have heard these divisions describes as silos, an apt description.

Unfortunately for the Don, many of these departments have some responsibility tied to the Don Valley for different aspects of the valley. For example, Transportation deals with the Don Valley Parkway, Works deals with sewers and water, Culture deals with relics such as the Don Valley Brick Works, and Social Services deals with the homeless. Not the least of which is Parks, Forestry and Recreation which has maybe the largest responsibility. Even within Parks it is sometimes difficult to find who is responsible for something because of geography. The Don River acts as a natural border for jurisdictions. There might be two different park supervisors responsible for the west and east banks of the river. Not only that but these people are often moved periodically which makes it even more difficult to get in touch with someone.

In comes the 311 call centre. Now with a simple phone call or email, the call centre can direct your query to the right department or person in order to solve a problem. As an example, in August I came across a tree fallen down over the path in the Mud Creek ravine. I took a picture of the situation and sent it with an email to 311 describing where it was and that it should be removed. A couple of weeks later, I went back and it was cleared away.

This is just to let you know, you can do the same. For simple things like a tree fallen down or garbage dumped in a park a call or an email to 311 is all it takes. If you do make a call, be sure to get a reference number. That way you can follow up with your request to see what action is being taken.

Same place a few weeks later

The tree in question