For better use and better management. The UNOFFICIAL Website of Toronto's Outdoor Skating Rinks

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Welcome to The Unofficial Website of Toronto's Outdoor Skating Rinks


There's nothing like outdoor skating

A project of CELOS

Latest News

posted Dec.19, 2014

You can see for yourself how skating is going at the "gold standard" (non-municipal) outdoor rink, Harbourfront's Natrel Rink: webcam.

The city's rink information website/311 has all but two city rinks marked as OPEN. Queensway rink is still closed for compressor repairs. Regent South is still finishing a renovation of its rink building, but the work on the actual rink with its new boards was completed Dec.15.

Recent posts from our rink visits: Ryerson, the invisible rink; construction progress at Regent South, and Rosedale Rink, a poor cousin despite its surrounding mansions.

Find your outdoor rink

click for a map

List of Rinks and addresses.

Google Map of rinks and satellite map

Get Connected

What makes rinks run well? See our animation.


Harbourfront's Natrel Rink DJ Skate nights began Dec.13

Nathan Phillips Square, Dec.15 1.30 pm

Rosedale Rink locked at 12 noon Dec.15 -- why does that rink always get the short end of the stick?

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City Skating programs

Information gathered from

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.

Special Programs

For women's shinny see this scheduleWomen's Shinny


Skating Lessons

Cityrinks Lists of Interest

Skate Rental.
Natural Ice Rinks.
Covered Outdoor Ice Rinks.
List of Unfenced Ice Rinks.

Editor's Blog by Jutta Mason

December 2, 1014. 311: tracking the trackers

Soon after David Miller was first elected as mayor in 2003, he took a trip to Baltimore. He came back with stars in his eyes, a convert to their 311 information system. 311 was the central number you could call in Baltimore to report a pothole or a slummy house or a broken park bench. 311 was backed by a system called “citistat” described as “an ‘executive information system’ like those used by corporations such as Frito-Lay or Mrs. Field’s Cookies.” The idea was to get as much data as possible and enter it into a system where it could be continuously analyzed by management. The system’s boosters described it like this: “Tracking citizens ‘ complaints, requests, tips, and comments can provide a wealth of information about service levels, employee interaction, and neighbourhood conditions and trends. Baltimore’s 311 telephone line provides a comprehensive system for gathering this kind of ‘soft’ data.” And the gathering of data would somehow lead to tremendous savings – officials in Baltimore say they have realized over $40 million in financial savings since they put in this system.

Wow! Mayor Miller came back and made sure that Toronto got one of those 311 systems as well. And since then, every few years there have been reports to the council committees about how well city staff feel the system is working and how much money they assume it's saving.

But we have to give it a big bad raspberry for ice rink information. Before 311, rink users could look in the phone book and call their local rink to ask about ice conditions. Then they could decide if they ought to get their skates and come down, or not bother until the ice was better. But in 2006 the order came to make individual rink telephone numbers unavailable to the public. Skaters were instructed to call one convenient number for rink information: 311. has been tracking 311 for about five years. The 311 outdoor rink information is wrong more than 50% of the time calculated over a whole season; during storms that goes up to 90% wrong. No wonder. Toronto has more municipal outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks than any city in the world – over 50. Every time the weather changes (sometimes three times a day), ice conditions may change. That’s way too many updates to be entered into a central reporting system.

At the Ward 18 rinks, phone numbers continue to be unofficially available. For Dufferin Rink: 416 392-0913. For Wallace Rink: 416 392-0911. For Campbell Rink: 416 392-6921 (but often out of order). A phone call is a simple, straightforward solution for a problem made complicated (and expensive) through 311. Sooner or later, other rinks will need to return to using the phone again too.



2012-2013 Editor's blog

2013-2014 Rinks users' blog

Skate Rentals and Snack Bar

Skate Rentals

Skate rental are available (independent companies) at City Hall, Harbourfront, and Brickworks .

The City of Toronto runs a skate loans program at three rinks: Dufferin Rink, Wallace Rink,Campbell Rink. Its two dollars for 2 hours of skate time.

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

Basic information:

Other Websites

Snack Bar

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.

There is also an independent catering company running a snack bar close to the rink at City Hall, and cafes in and around the rinks at Harbourfront, and Brickworks .


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, and we'll post it in the rink diaries (subject to editing of course).

Skate Lending Programs at Neighbourhood Ice Rinks

Posters and Bulletins

an info bulletin about
Rink Shoveling for
Central Toronto outdoor rinks

Click on poster to enlarge it

Rules for a community rink

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:

  • Respect programs and permit times in designated areas.
  • Do not use hockey sticks or pucks on the pleasure skating side.
  • Leave the ice surface or any other rink area when asked to do so by staff.
  • Put garbage in cans, not on the floor.
  • Do not smoke in the rink house or on the ice.
  • Be considerate of noise levels.
  • Do not use foul, offensive or racist language.
  • Do not fight or play roughly inside the building or on the rink surface.
  • Do not damage anything.

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.

Ice Allocation Policy and Permits

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. Opinion

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

The Data

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.

Data collected by Rule-Makers

Data collected by CELOS

Helmet Rules Across Canada

PFR 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

Read the Special Helmets Issue and its References as published January 9th, 2014


"Restore CSA"

A Calgary group called RestoreCSA and their claim that the CSA’s monopoly on hockey helmet certification in Canada "appears to be in violation of multiple sections of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)"

On November 28th, the Federal Industry Minister, James Moore, made a declaration to Parliament that materials developed by the CSA and incorporated into provincial laws are merely "voluntary standards" whose character as independent of the law is unchanged by inclusion within the law. As noted previously, this action invalidates as a legal requirement all inclusions within law as furnished by CSA or other commercial entities." 178 specific CSA standards included within a wide variety of Federal laws.

Z262.1 is the identifier for the CSA standard for Ice Hockey Helmets.

Additional Web links


Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled rinks than any city in the world – 52. But our civic knowledge of the physics of ice maintenance hasn’t kept pace with our collective rink wealth. Many people seem to find it amazing, even shocking, that outdoor rinks can be skateable when the air temperature is above freezing, as high as 11 or even 15.

What’s the surprise? Collectively, as taxpayers, we spend about $500 a day at each rink to fuel the compressors that cool the rink pad. The rink compressors vary between 100 and 200 horsepower each – you can hear their noise through the compressor-room doors at the sides of the buildings. These compressors push a brine (salt water) solution through a big tank of cooling ammonia, and then out into the extensive grid of PVC pipes underneath the concrete floor of the rink. The cold liquid brings the entire big concrete slab to well below freezing, so any water that’s put on the surface of the rink pads sets up as ice right away. The brine liquid in the pipe grid circulates back into a large pipe in the “header trench” right next to the building, underneath where everybody stands when the zamboni is doing ice maintenance. From there the brine gets pushed back into the compressor room, where it passes through the freezing-cold ammonia tank, and out again into the pipes under the concrete, and so on.

The only serious match for this powerful cooling system is the sun, and in the months on either side of the December 21 winter solstice, the sun is very weak. It doesn’t get to spend very much time above the horizon, and that suits the compressors just fine.

The sun begins to gain real power toward the end of February, which is why, on a sunny day on, let’s say, February 25, when the air temperature is minus 8, the ice gets really mushy near the reflective boards, and even a bit soft in the middle. The compressors are losing ground as the sun prepares to bring on spring and summer. But on a low-sun Monday in November even at 11 degrees, a thin film of water forms on top of solid ice, and the shinny hockey and pleasure-skating are brilliant.

It’s not only rink users whose rink literacy is in some need of upgrading. The city’s rink staff are also confused. In our travels around the city's outdoor rinks, we have heard some zamboni drivers say that they can’t make ice because the temperature is above zero. Over the years, the city’s Parks management has blamed a multitude of ice-making sins on the temperature, global warming, etc. Convenient - but most of the time, not true. The compressor-cooled rinks can do their job, and having all those rinks can take some of the sting out of the dark months of winter for Torontontians.

The City of Toronto is always behind Harbourfront in getting the rinks open. Here's why:

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. This list supplies the fundamentals of ice making.

Questions or Comments?

Contact at to :
  • Ask General questions:
  • Share Rink stories or pictures
  • Report Problems at any of the rinks
  • Contact the editor
  • Discuss Technical website issues
  • Find detailed rink information including schedules at City Rink Details
Contact the City of Toronto
  • For individual rink schedules: dial 3-1-1
  • The City's rink hotline 416-338-RINK (7465) is no longer in service
  • A few rinks have a direct line. Go to the individual rink profile through the Quick Links.
  • For permit phone numbers see "Contacts to get Permits" in the Rules & Permits tab
  • City website for Skating & Rinks

Pond hockey as it's always been played: no helmets, no body armour, no checking, no slapshots - just the joy of the game

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Content last modified on December 17, 2014, at 11:00 AM EST