Toronto tells volunteers to stop beautifying park

Stickie Caddle and Blue Jays Curtis have been lovingly looking after Fergy Brown Park in north Toronto for more than two decades at no cost, but the city has told them to stop some of their volunteer efforts.

'You're going to disrespect me for doing voluntary work?'

Blue Jays Curtis shown near his vegetable patch. He and his partner, Stickie Caddle, dug the drainage ditches. (Colin Butler/CBC)

Two award-winning community volunteers say the City of Toronto has told them to stop whacking weeds and growing vegetables in a city park.

For two decades, Stickie Caddle and Blue Jays Curtis have worked at Fergy Brown Park for free.

The two have taken it upon themselves to tackle the waist-high weeds and grass, drain the pools of water and lovingly maintain the cricket pitch.

They've even won awards for making Fergy Brown Park a better place.

As a bonus, Curtis also plants and grows vegetables.

Stickie Caddle points out the cricket pitch he has looked after at Fergy Brown Park. (Colin Butler/CBC)

But the city's parks department has ordered them to stop. Not because it doesn't like what they're doing, but out of concern they might hurt themselves — and then sue.

"Any place in Barbados you could go and do this kind of work — and people would object to it? Man, they'd give you two more weed whackers," said Caddle.

Curtis is frustrated too.

"You're going to disrespect me for doing voluntary work?"

Curtis is no longer allowed to plant his vegetable garden.

"I plant it and bag it out — bag it out and give to some of the senior citizens here. I put some in my car and give to people outside," he said.

The city said Thursday that the two volunteers can continue with their activities, but not power-trimming and vegetable gardening.

"There was use of a string trimmer — and it was unsafe use — and there was also a private garden in the park," said Richard Ubbens, the city's director of parks. 


  • A previous version of this story said the park manager had "declined to comment." That is not correct. The park manager spoke on the phone to CBC News and provided background detail. We were unable to arrange a recorded interview at that time.
    Jul 26, 2012 2:16 AM ET