There's nothing like outdoor skating
A project of CELOS
posted November 27, 2014
You can see normal ice conditions for yourself on Harbourfront's Natrel Rink webcam.
Ten and a half city rinks are listed as open on the front page of city's rink information website/311: Irving Chapley, Ramsden, Nathan Phillips Square, Dufferin, Cedarvale, Greenwood, Kew Rink, Colonel Sam Smith and Glen Long. Rennie has reopened but is listed as "thin ice," and West Mall has reopened but is "leisure skating only."
Earlier-opening rinks still building ice or rebuilding ice from last Monday are: Regent North, Scarborough Civic, and Broadlands. Sunnydale is fixing the part of their MLSE boards that blew down in the wind.
All other city rinks except Regent South are scheduled to open on Saturday Nov.29.
Find your outdoor rink
click for a map
What makes rinks run well? See our animation.
City Skating programs
Information gathered from Toronto.ca
For drop-in hockey and shinny times, see this schedule (shows arenas as well as outdoor rinks): drop in hockey and shinny.
For pleasure skating, see this schedule (shows arenas as well as outdoor rinks): leisure skating.
For women's shinny see this scheduleWomen's Shinny
Cityrinks Lists of Interest
Some rinks had their compressors turned on last Saturday (Nov.15). Then on Sunday night it snowed. Periods of snow mixed with rain continued all through the day on Monday, finally stopping in the evening. Presumably the compressors were turned on because that was a decision made some time ago -- to cool down the cement slab for those rinks that were set to open early. It would have been a good idea, if the weather had been as warm as in other years -- but in fact there had been four days of near-freezing temperatures before Saturday. The slabs would have cooled down on their own.
Still, there would have been no harm to running the compressors if not for the snow. But as it was, because the compressors were on before ice-making had begun, the snow became glued to the bare cement slab. It made a big mess. It seems that there is not enough flexibility in the city's rink management to react to weather at those rinks that had been turned on. Would it have been possible to turn off the compressors when the weather forecast warned of snow? Maybe not....
On Monday evening the temperatures were just above freezing. Dufferin Rink had lumpy snow stuck all over it, but we decided to do a 6x20 foot test patch with the hot water hose to see if the snow would come off easily. It did. That left a lot of water which ought to be removed so that the slab would dry and ice-making could start properly (thin layers of ice laminated one over the other). Could a zamboni have helped to remove the water?
Who knows? There were no ice-making staff who came to the park on Monday evening. Nor is there communication between people who use the rink or run the programs, and ice maintenance staff. The ice makers are in a silo hermetically sealed from all rink users including the program staff.
The next morning, as forecast by Environment Canada, temperatures plummeted to minus 9, winds gusted to 70 K an hour, and the ice-making staff, scheduled weeks before, began hosing the rink. They no longer found it easy to get the snow off the slab. The water they sprayed on froze everything into an even bigger mess.
Some day, maybe in five years, maybe in ten, some of the outdoor rinks may be run by locally-based crews instead of the current one-size-fits-all central management. In this blog, we'll continue to try to record what works and what doesn't. It will be our manual for that hoped-for day when experience and ingenuity will run the show.
I don't think the Wallace compressor is on and the snow/rain that fell is frozen solid to the rink pads.
The snow and ice stayed on Wallace (even though there is no chance the compressors were on) because the temp went to minus 9 and didn't go up much in the daytime, and I'm guessing that no snow was removed beforehand when it was still warmer (on Monday).
Rinks where compressors were off and also snow was removed (on Monday, before the temperature went down):
The City also runs three tuck shops for Shinny hockey gear at Dufferin Rink, Wallace Rink, and Campbell Rink includes sticks, pucks, tape, wax, skate tightener, skate file, and helmets for loan or to keep
The City of Toronto operates three snack bars at Dufferin Rink, Wallace Rink, and Campbell Rink. The fare is reasonably priced and includes hot chocolate, vegan soup and chilli, chocolate chip cookies and mini pizzas.
Do you have Rink Diary material to share?
If you have stories, pictures, rink condition updates, a family or community event, etc. to share about your local outdoor rink, send us the material at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll post it in the rink diaries (subject to editing of course).
an info bulletin about
Rink Shoveling for
Central Toronto outdoor rinks
What is shinny hockey? A little film clip from Campbell Rink.
Our rinks are community rinks. All members of the community are welcome to skate, play hockey, or meet their friends here. Rink staff would be pleased to answer any questions you may have about the programs and policies.
Please observe the following rules so that everyone can enjoy the rink:
In case of a serious disagreement between rink staff and a rink user about any of these rules, the staff may ask the rink user to leave the rink until the matter is discussed with the Recreation Supervisor. If the rink user refuses the staff’s request to leave the rink, a letter of trespass may result.
posted November 12, 2013
City of Toronto website links
For tournmanents, special events, and other one-time bookings, complete a One-Time Use Application, and submit your package to the permit office.
Helmets have lost some of their luster in both the medical and the sports media. It turns out that they have some important limitations in preventing concussions -- which is really their main purpose, as far as many skaters are concerned. The City of Toronto has hung on to its 9-year-old mandatory helmet policy, requiring all shinny hockey player to put on head armour. Little kids under 6 are also required to wear ONLY CSA-certified hockey helmets -- for pleasure-skating. Hockey helmets are designed to absorb impacts from pucks, sticks, and body-checking.
CELOS, the Centre for Local Research into Public Space (the sponsor of this website) has ollected quite a bit of material on all sides of the helmet question.
A Rink Safety Story
The approach of mandating hockey helmets for little kids effectively blocks families from using the rinks if they don't want to buy another set of helmets in addition to the bike (or trike!) helmets most kids already have.
Read this rink user's story
Noncompliance by shinny hockey players continues to rise citywide. The city’s inability to enforce its own policy should be a flag to rinks management.
It's time to revisit the helmet rules, but with a different procedure than the last time. Instead of a staff decision made at a closed meeting at City Hall, the city should welcome wide-ranging rink-user input. Read our latest letter from Kelvin Seow, City Manager for PFR, and the latest letters to and from Jim Hart, General Manager for the PFR, City of Toronto.
Click on correspondence for everything we've received from city management through the years.
Problems with the City's Helmet Policy
City Rinks Special Edition on Helmets
Additional Web links
About Rink Costs
Rinks By The Numbers is a Cityrinks Library section which is a start at extending our investigation of city rinks budgets (a bit over $3M per year). Much of this is a "public filing cabinet" with links to lots of material, including staff allocations, while we sort it out.
Here's an article from our 2007-2008 news: $250,000 more to zamboni the ice: why? See Outdoor ice maintenance costs.
Freedom of Information
Here's an idea of the type of work often involved in getting information from the city.
Women of Winter 2007-2008
About Running the Rinks
The City of Toronto is always behind Harbourfront in getting their rinks open. Here's why: Toronto Ice Rink Story The science is there, the history is there (pre-amalgamation), professionals say it can be done, Harbourfront is doing it, even volunteers have done it. Yet Toronto can't seem to manage the fundamentals of ice making.
See Correspondence 2011-2012 for insight into how ongoing issues are handled.
Here's a basic orientation: Basic "rink literacy".
Read up on the fundamentals of ice making.
The CELOS Outdoor Rink Report:
Prepared in 2007 by CELOS, funded by the Metcalf Foundation, this report provides outlines of city rink operational issues and their possible solutions. The report is still relevant today (2010-2011).
Monday Rink Reports:
Climate and Outdoor Rinks:
To determine the rink season (by ice condition), changes in temperature matter much less than the angle of the sun. Our weather researcher shows why: get the facts.
311 Rink Information Monitor:
Read about the City's rink hotline monitor and 311 rink information monitor.
Here's some material from the City's Archives.
We've kept journals from time to time, such as News 2008-2009 - Extending Artificial Ice Skating Season 2008-2009; Injury Risk at Ice Rinks investigated.
We have our rink news journals going back to 2005.
Remember the Save our rinks campaign from 2007?
There was a Rink Management Board proposal in 2006.
Report cards were created by this website for the 2007-2008 season.
Most Rink detail web pages have diaries to peruse. Some go back several years.
Christie Pits 1923
Contact the City of Toronto
The science is there, the history is there (pre-amalgamation), professionals say it can be done, Harbourfront is doing it, even volunteers have done it. Yet Toronto seems to be shaky on the fundamentals of ice making.