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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis

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2022 - 2023

Jan.13, 2023

Jan.13: school holiday: so many families skating

''MPP Chris Glover was giving out hot chocolate and cider: poster

little staff-run stand for hot chocolate, coffee, chips, cookies

sign is posted at the pay station

On a damp, overcast day around noon on Friday -- about two weeks since the sun was last seen -- the Bentway rink was totally lively with skaters. Other nearby city rinks were almost deserted -- what happened?

It turns out this was a school holiday. The MPP for that riding, Chris Glover, lives in a building that looks out over the rink, and he was having his second "Skate with Chris" day. Evidently the publicity reminded many caregivers and parents that they could take the day and do something fun with the kids.

Dec.23 and 24: closed because of the winter storm warning.
Dec.17, 2022

Opened for the season, noon to 9pm daily during school holidays, 5 to 9pm on weekdays after Jan.9. More information:

Nov.27, 2022

No information yet.

Rink diaries from earlier years

2021 - 2022

Opening Dec.18

The Bentway will also be abiding by all provincial regulations and additional safety measures, including:

  • Mandatory masks in indoor spaces like washrooms
  • Increased sanitization protocols
  • Capacity limits on the washrooms and bar space
  • Fully vaccinated staff

2020 - 2021

Timing and rules

Jan.31, 2021

Closed for the season.

Dec.18, 2020

Opened for the season.

Dec.2, 2020

The Bentway -- fenced off

The Bentway: At 4.20 p.m. there were two workers doing maintenance on the cement pad. They said they hoped that the Bentway skating loop would be one in time for Christmas, but that nothing could be for sure.

2019 - 2020

Opened: Dec.20, 2019 link.

Sunday March 8, 2020

The rink is closed today (12 C and sunny) but is going to stay open through March break and the CBC will broadcast the Montreal world figure skating championships there -- press release: here.

Friday Nov.22, 2019

At noon the washrooms were open and there were staff in the office. Two women were working on their laptops in the open area, sitting on the chairs used by visitors during events. Maybe they were staff too. The staff in the office said that the rink can't really open earlier than December 20 or stay open after mid-February -- that even though it's mostly covered by the expressway, the rays of the sun are too strong in parts of the rink that have less coverage.

I said I thought that the rink should be fine now in November because the sun is weak and even uncovered rinks can make and keep ice. I asked if their season is so short because of lack of funds, but the staff said no, their machinery really isn't strong enough to keep the ice for a longer season.

There may be a problem with their CO2 cooling machinery. But most likely the short season is because the Bentway is more oriented to special events than to creating a neighbourly all-winter social space for all those thousands of people who have moved into the area. (They get no rink staffing funds from the city, to run their rink and make their hospitality more broadly available.) So they start at the Christmas holidays and finish after Family Day.

One nice thing: the staff said that they all do a variety of jobs. I asked if that means one doesn't hear "that's not my job," the way you do at municipal parks and rinks. They laughed and said, "no, you don't hear 'that's not my job.' "

The most recent Waterfront Toronto report


2018 - 2019

Opened: Dec.21, 2018
Closed: Feb.18, 2019

Jan.12, 2019

Lineups for free Kahlua-and-coffee. Very nicely done, with lots of seating around outdoor fires. People have discovered the warming sheds -- many cozy scenes of people looking sleepy and warm.

Dec.30, 2018

The Polar Bear Skate

Dec.28, 2018

cloudy but mild weather brings out lots of people

The rink had a lot of people today despite the cloudy weather. There can be a wind-tunnel effect at this rink although today there was hardly a breeze. But it seems that the Bentway is prepared for the cold that's bound to come. The indoor space was packed with people changing their skates, but as soon as people realize that the outdoor sheds are warmed -- particularly the one with plastic strips to keep the heat in -- they'll surely migrate to there. It's as cozy as a play fort, with lots of furry blankets to warm up cold toes.

The warming sheds are beside the food-and-drinks booth, run by a company called 232 Productions. They offer coffee and hot chocolate but also alcoholic drinks and chili and leek-potato soup. A coffee spiked with Kahlua costs $9, not super cheap but another way to warm up, for sure.


plastic strips to keep the wind away from skate changing booth

furry blankets inside a toasty warm skate-change shed
Dec.27, 2018

Even though it was only 11.30, the locker room was open and skaters had begun arriving (holiday hours begin at noon). The staff at this rink are remarkably friendly.

office staff, including mascot

rink guard is a retired go-train driver

the shoe lockers work, unlike those at city hall before Christmas

photography allowed -- nobody seems to be scared away

zamboni and squeegee work in tandem

unusual modernistic skate aids -- the kid says they work well

The staff said there are about 30 people signed up for the polar bear skate already.


The website advertises an event next Sunday Dec.30, the polar bear skate, when "skaters will strip to their intimates and Skate the 8 in their knickers! All pre-registrants receive a free hot chocolate and a chance to win a special Bentway prize pack."

My goodness.

Dec.22, 2018

The Bentway Facebook page has posted this video.

Dec.21, 2019

The skating trail opened for the season today at noon.

Dec.19, 2018

Only two days until opening. The zamboni has the Bentway logo on it.

There were lots of staff around, getting the rink ready to open, putting out the seats, conferring, doing last-minute carpentry. A nice man named Jim waved to me as I was taking a picture, and invited me to come in and take a look at the equipment. A surprise. The rink staff at the municipal rinks usually behave as though the machinery room were a nuclear facility, and anyone who wants to have a look might be dangerous. But this is definitely not a municipal rink.

the refrigeration machinery

the computer runs it all

five compact compressors

two giant watertanks in the garage provide water for the zamboni

the chiller in its own open-air room

ice looks all ready to go

from the Bentway's Facebook page: tiny skaters below the Gardiner
Dec.15, 2018

From a Bentway media release today: the rink is planned to open on Dec.21. "Skate rentals and skating lessons will be offered again this year, there will be curated food and beverage options on select dates, and an expanded winter village full of snuggly blankets, warming lounges, and fire pits."

Nov.3, 2018

On a windy November Saturday morning after an all-night rain, there were not a lot of people out, but even so, tables and chairs were set up, the washroom doors were open, and there was a very friendly staff person inside the office. Like the staff from last winter, he seemed to be very invested in the site, proud of how it looks and its program offerings. Maybe that's partly because he lives in one of the condo buildings nearby -- it's his neighbourhood.

construction hoardings gone, skating trail all clear for ice-making

charis and tables even in November

lockers and chairs in new office/washrooms area

take your choice

The Strachan end of the Bentway looks like it's finished now, except for the protective fencing for the new plantings. It's all accessible -- and that means for bikes as well as strollers and wheelchairs -- ingenious, considering how steep the drop is from Strachan.

seating/concerts area at the Strachan end, all accessible

bikes can go right in from Strachan, strollers and wheelchairs too

2017 - 2018

Opened: Jan.6, 2018
Closed: Feb.28, 2018

Feb.28, 2018

The rink closed for the season today. Press release

Feb.14, 2018: special Valentine's Day program

The Bentway website promised a romantic skate for Valentine's, and they did their best. The rink was beautifully lit up. Despite the crowds there were plenty of places to sit, there were good-quality skates and even skate-aids to rent, there was music, hard cider, coffee and hot chocolate, and cheap food. Ultimately, of course, romance depends on two, and can't be bought (true love is free), and not everyone there looked like they were happy with their date (or even had a date). But that's not the rink's fault.

Skating trails do have a problem -- people tend to bunch up behind slow skaters, and good skaters often can't find a place to stretch out and show their stuff. Whether the vogue that such trails are having at the moment will stand the test of time, remains to be seen.


the low benches along the middle are good for chatting

$1 "buck-a-shuck" oysters and $2 s'morish-empanadas

free coffee from MacDonald's

There were cheap snacks -- the oyster guy said that the $1 oysters would normally cost $3.50 apiece -- but since the Bentway is still very much under construction, they don't have much choice but to subsidize the food. Perhaps the indoor area that's due for completion in spring will have a kitchen where snack food can be prepared.

friendly staff with signature Bentway toques

makeshift bike lock-up

The most noticeable thing about the Bentway for visitors is the friendliness of the staff. Everyone who is approached seems eager to be helpful. This is in striking contrast to most of the rinks run by city rec staff, who -- not always but far too often -- seem to see their job as stopping things. Your four-year-old is using a bike helmet to skate? -- she must leave the rink at once, only hockey helmets allowed. You want to take a picture? -- only if there is no one other than your direct relation in the frame. At many rinks the city rec staff actually stop people from taking a photo of an empty change room -- they say their training taught them to stop any photography. No reason except "orders."

At the Bentway, in contrast, the staff are rink-proud: yes, take a photo, yes, I'll smile for your photo with my Bentway toque on, isn't this place amazing? Their enthusiasm is contagious.

Jan.23, 2018

the rink in the morning light, 10 a.m.

Julian Sleuth, C.E.O., with chair of the board Tom McCullough

A chat with the Bentway marketing staff. She said there are many things still left to do -- the washrooms aren't done and neither is the zamboni garage. To open on time, the construction workers had to pour concrete in very cold temperatures -- not easy working conditions. There will be an interior space near the washrooms where people can warm up and maybe even get a snack. And the space will be extended right over to Strachan Avenue.

There are estimated to be over 2000 children living in the various condos (really?) and there will be an effort to make the space work for them too.

Jan.19, 2018

7 p.m.: A windy Friday evening, but lots of skaters. A DJ tent is set up, with music to begin at 8 pm. The staff are trying to light the second charcoal fire tables, but no luck -- the wind just blows it out. The Strongbow cider people say that the rink is a wind tunnel and they hope some wind blocks can be devised. The skate lending shed still has its tarp to shield the opening, but they hope a glass barrier will be put in soon.

food truck

charcoal fires blowing out in the wind
Jan.9, 2018

At 11.30 there were skaters, mostly skating alone, looks like most were doing laps. There were a few construction workers skating, on their lunch time. It's a space of strangers, of course. The only staff person in sight was a security guy working his cell phone. No host. No food, either, but the shed benches are comfortable for eating a packed lunch, and there are plenty of chairs everywhere, unchained.

There's no bus stop in front.

pylons for the sharp turn at the east end

hot chocolate/cider and warming fires closed in the day, but chairs are out

mural on the back of the change sheds

shadow tent for night-time, no skates allowed

more photos

Jan.8, 2018

A much nicer, warmer day. Monday night is free skate lending. This time the booth was not mobbed. The supply of skates is very good and they look new. The company (City Skate Rental) is the same as at City Hall, in Brampton, and at two rinks in Mississauga. The owner was there tonight, and says she's very pleased with how the Bentway is treating the company. The skate lending booth is four times the size of the crowded spot they have at City Hall.

lots of skaters on a pleasant Monday night

charcoal hand warmer tables, very nice

happy group around a warming table

the impression is of a lot of light

more photos

Jan.7, 2017

Today was the mayor's skating party. Even though the rink officially opened yesterday, this was the first day in almost two weeks when the temperature began to rise. Lots of people came to the rink. But the wind was strong -- a wind tunnel -- and very cold.

the "skating village" in the press release seems to be made of upscale shipping containers

there were many skaters, hundreds of people

the skate lending booth was mobbed

shed # 3, and elegant chairs, but too cold to sit on

some lockers, and a banking machine

There was no sign of the warming stations announced in the press release. But today was really the inauguration of the new rink, and Artscape may need some time to get the bugs out.


A skater's comment: Its a nice little rink but its funny that they made the turns so tight. You have to be a pretty confident skater to go around those at any speed. It looks like the amenities are a work in progress as well and typically for the city no thought was given to the 25,000 people who may have wanted to walk from Liberty Village. Those unshovelled Strachan stairs are a menace. Still, nice to see the new amenity.

more photos

Jan.4, 2018

Good news! The Bentway Press release says there will be skate rentals. Also from the press release: A skating village, designed by +tongtong, will be installed at The Bentway and will house the skate rental shop, warming stations and a variety of seating options. On weekend evenings, skaters are invited to warm up in the Strongbow Lounge, which will be serving up Strongbow Apple Ciders and other fine Molson Coors products. A curated food truck program will serve hot food, warm and cold drinks, and decadent desserts.

Last Nov.21 (2017) we emailed the conservancy and asked if they might be interested in the free 110-pair CELOS skate loan collection. Their answer:

At present, The Bentway is not in a position to secure our own skate collection, but we wish you luck and hope you find a fantastic home for the skates donation!

Obviously they realized later that in order to have people come to their rink, they should have skate lending. So they have it every day (the cost is not yet publicized) and on Mondays it's free.

Jan.1, 2018

At 11.30 a.m. on New Year's Day, it's -13 celsius but feels bitingly colder -- the wind is ripping along the Bentway and it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to skate there whenever the wind is like this.

Jan.1, 2018-- A wind tunnel?

decorations along the trail
Dec.27, 2017

Post about opening events in January, including linked special events at Fort York:

Fort York celebrates the opening of The Bentway's Skate Trail with FREE admission and extended hours all weekend-long! Join in some family-fun activities in the Fort York Visitor Centre, including a special pop-up exhibit on winter fun in Toronto, and a Fort York selfie booth. More details below.

Extended Hours:
Saturday, January 6, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, January 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Evening Lantern Tours
Saturday, January 6, 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
See Fort York in a 'new' light! Missed one of our daily tours? Join a special lantern tour and catch a glimpse of garrison life after dark. Our interpretive staff will guide you through a selection of Fort York's War of 1812-era buildings using exclusively 19th century lighting. These FREE tours meet in the Fort York Visitor Centre on the hour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday only- don't miss out! Spaces are limited.

January 7: Fort York will be open until 6 p.m. to celebrate! With tours throughout the day, there's plenty of opportunity to explore the history of Toronto's founding urban landscape before or after your skate!

Dec.22, 2017

Dec.22, 2017, 6.30 p.m.: zamboni at Bentway Rink. Photo: Jeremy Fisher

Bentway poster image for opening
Dec.16, 2017, announcement from the Mayor's office:

Mayor's Skate Party in the New Year
I'd love you to join me on January 7 from 1 pm to 4 pm for a skating party on The Bentway's new skating path (250 Fort York Boulevard).
It's the Mayor's Skate Party so there will be complimentary skate rentals, hot chocolate and good family fun.
I hope to see you there!

Dec.7, 2017

City Council has approved $500,000 to go to the Bentway, to expand the skating trail.

Nov.27, 2017

The rink area is swarming with workers. Compare with Riverdale Rink, which looks almost done and yet the website postpones its opening date until January -- and like many city construction sites, seems to have a dearth of workers onsite. The workers at the Bentway seem enthusiastic, too -- "we'll get it open by Christmas!"

fresh cement still tarped against wintry weather

new cement fill-ins all over the place
Nov.20, 2017

A Cimco truck -- the refrigeration company

evergreen trees have been added to the trail

Loaner skates at Wallace Rink, 2014
Nov.18, 2017, email to [email protected]:

Will you have skates for rent? We assume yes. In case this is of interest, CELOS has a 110-pair travelling skate collection that we now want to donate to an outdoor rink. The city's recreation division says they don't want to do any more skate rental (Metro News story this morning). If you can use them (many of the skates, donated by the NHL Players' Association, are almost new), let us know.

Nov.20, 2017, response from Lara of "the Bentway team":

At present, The Bentway is not in a position to secure our own skate collection....

In the next couple of weeks we will send out an official announcement about winter season, including opening celebrations, hours of operation and on-going programming. Well be sure to send this on so that you can update the website as needed. You can reach out to Kasia at [email protected] for more information.


Nov.13, 2017

The construction scene was very active, and it looks like the trail is in good shape. The worker I talked to seemed proud, and said the pipes are in, the concrete is poured, the compressors are ready to fire up, and he heard they're trying to open by New Year's day.

trail near the front, compressor room in the background

will it be strange to skate under a highway?

The blog about the rink is here, with some good, clear pictures.

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Content last modified on January 20, 2023, at 07:44 PM EST