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Outdoor rinks blog during covid times, 2020 - 2021

(Jutta Mason)

Covid-related City of Toronto rink rules


No shinny hockey is a bad idea!

rink door glass smashed

From Dufferin, Campbell and Wallace rinks: The kids for whom the outdoor rinks are most important, who spent their winters borrowing skates and playing shinny and eating cheap snack bar food (i.e. most of the kids at the rink who come from low-income families) will be out of luck. There may be more-than-usual vandalism, which has already begun. Pick-up basketball is allowed, but pick-up shinny hockey is not---?

Jan.19, 2021

By the middle of the season, most rinks have less than 25 people on them even at prime time and in good weather. Many of the city's registration links show registration as fully booked, but staff say that people often don't show up. After 5 or 10 minutes of a no-show, drop-ins are allowed to take their places. Also, some rinks leave 5 spaces unbooked for drop-ins. Some leave 10.

The skaters are mostly adults alone, or parents with kids. Not many youth -- most of them want to play shinny, but they're not allowed.

All city rinks, even the "minor" ones in Etobicoke, have at least two young staff sitting there, looking very bored a lot of the time. There's not enough for them to do -- a specialty of Parks and Rec.

The rink supervisor says there is no plan to allow skate lending, even though the city has the CELOS collection and the collections from the three Ward 9 rinks, hundreds of pairs in all sizes sitting in a storage room. No skate lending means no kids who don't have skates. The supervisor said that Canadian Tire had donated some skates to give away. Better than nothing, but it could be so much better if skates were lent out in the same way City Hall does -- sanitizing between uses -- easy with all the staff who are just sitting there now. Does city management want to expand access beyond the privileged?

Dec.14, 2020

Dufferin Rink: On Monday at 10.30 a.m. there were 12 people on the ice, including 5 little kids using skate aids.

College Park: At 11 a.m there were 7 skaters on the trail, all adults except for one reluctant little kid. The staff said that the weekend had been very busy, and that at one point, people who were lining up for the unregistered spots had to wait for 2 hours. Perhaps the spots are already booked into the Christmas holidays? But they didn't know the answer.

Ryerson Rink: At 11.30, there was one guy with a hockey stick and a bunch of pucks, and two people just sitting by the rocks.'''

even city hall is sparse on a weekday

City Hall skate rentals are open!

City Hall: At 11.40, there were 6 skaters on the rink, plus three rink staff and two security guards. A nice surprise was that the skate rental shop, closed a week ago, is now open. The rental staff person said they opened last week. They can't rent many skates because only 25 skaters are allowed on the rink at a time despite how big the rink is. But the actual rentals are easy, she said. They just spray each pair of skates as they come in, and then they can be rented out again.

Dec.11, 2020

danger tape to prevent sitting

Ramsden: On Friday morning there were 6 people on one pad, 3 on the other. The rink staff was friendly and had her mask down, with more than 6 feet distance. She said that the staff can't wear masks outside all the time, it's not good for their health, when the cold combines with the condensation and the damp mask makes it had to breathe. So they alternate having the mask on or keeping the 6 feet distance.

It was easy to get permission to use the washrooms (just give your first name and wear the mask), but the benches beside the washrooms are all taped off, so that on a very cold day there's still no chance to put skates on without getting your fingers frozen.

Dec.3, 2020

The rinks continue to be underused until mid-afternoon. Good ice, underemployed staff. None of the staff reported any school visits yet, but it's early days. Most young male rink staff said they want shinny restored. One rink guard said that she feels there's no chance shinny hockey will be allowed at any point because "it's a contact sport."


It actually isn't.

Regent Rink, 12.30 p.m. -- 2 skaters

Ryerson rink -- sole skater, stick and pucks, no staff to stop him

Riverdale Rink, Dec.3, 11.30 a.m. -- no skaters, two people looking
Dec.2, 2020

Monday's rain added enough ice to the rinks that had been thin. So most are open. It sounds like during the day the rinks were often empty. But even with only a few skaters, the rink guards are making people get off after 45 minutes and then line up for a new session, with the rinks staying empty for 15 minutes in between. Some staff are unhappy because seniority is not being followed in giving out part-time shifts -- some new staff are getting shifts that should have been assigned to existing part-time staff.

Masks are to be worn even if the staff person is alone and shovelling snow. The only time they can be removed is during the staff break. For some of the staff that's hard, but the younger staff seem to feel more at home with their masks. One young woman said the mask is great because it keeps your face warm and you don't have all that cold air to worry about.

The rinks, like basically all of society at the moment, are run in a way that puts everybody back into kindergarten. Public health officials are the teachers, getting everybody to line up and be obedient. At the rinks, the young staff enforce whatever their interpretation is of the rules -- a great opportunity for little tyrannies.

Wallace Rink: At 3.05 p.m. the ice looked much better. A mom and her young son were leaving with their hockey sticks over their shoulders. They had been allowed to skate but not play shinny, even though they were the only skaters on both rink pads. A new skater had just arrived, with her non-skater parents. The little girl looked pleased.
Campbell Rink: At 3.20 p.m. the ice looked good but there were no skaters.
Christie Rink: At 3.40 p.m. there were six skaters.
Trinity Rink: At 4 p.m. there were about 20 skaters, mostly young kids and parents.

Trinity Rink

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.
Harry Gairey: At 4.45 there were about 15 skaters, mostly kids, on the hockey pad (but just skating), plus one very fine figure skater on the pleasure-skating side.
Dufferin Rink: at 5 p.m. there were 8 skaters on the hockey side and 13 on the pleasure-skating side -- an enthusiastic group of kids along with some parents.

Nov.30, 2020

Steady rain, 4 celsius. Not the best way to flood a rink, but better than no water. Habourfront is closed for reconstruction. The Bentway web site has no mention of when or IF their rink will open this winter, and they have not responded to a query.

Nov.29 2020

At 10.15 a.m. Wallace Rink had a few skaters, but the two staff said they had been told they should close after one session. They said that the machinery had been broken and was not fixed until Thursday, so that's when ice making began. Hm.

At 10.40 a.m. Dufferin Rink had skaters on both pads (separated, gate not open). Masking was again the default.

Wallace: only began flooding on Thursday

Dufferin Rink, Sunday morning Nov.29

At 3.15 p.m. College Park was well-used. The two staff said that although the trail is long, they were told to treat it as a single pad. They clear the rink every 45 minutes, and also take names and phone numbers of all participants, including drop-ins. They said it was not easy since skaters can get on anywhere and not all the parts of the skating trail can be seen from the rink house.

Many of the skaters were not masked and many looked pretty pleased to be skating.

College Park: some people masked, many not

College Park: washrooms are available

Ryerson Rink has not yet opened. Also there are no washrooms there since the rink house is apparently "condemned." Staff didn't know why but thought it might be because of asbestos. They said that many stores in the area had "out of business" signs, and that a thief tried to take a staff person's jacket despite the presence of many people.

City Hall staff -- no rentals

CityHall change area

City Hall: fenced, and only 25 skaters allowed despite its size

At 3.30 p.m. the rink at City Hall was surrounded by fencing and was staffed by both security guards and rink staff with clipboards. The ice looked fine but apparently yesterday this rink was not allowed to open. No one knew why. There is no skate rental and the rink, although very large, is being treated as a single pad with only 25 skaters allowed.

At 3.45 p.m. at Harry Gairey Rink, staff were just leaving and the rink was closed, with water om both sides. Staff said that the machinery was 40 years old and weak. (Actually the machinery was replaced in 2006). Perhaps the water was there because the rink had just been flooded?


Christie: one of the few that stayed open until 10 pm

At 4 p.m. Christie Rink was in good shape and had quite a few skaters, mostly not masked. Staff said that they expected to stay open until 10 p.m. and had been open until 10 the night before. Staff also said that if people are more than 10 minutes late for their registered skating time, their spot opens for drop-ins.

Nov.28, 2020: opening day

At 9 a.m. Wallace Rink looked like its ice was still too thin, but the zamboni was filling, so it might be okay later in the week.
At 10.30 a.m., Christie Rink had about a dozen skaters, all kids and parents. They were all masked but the rink staff said there's no requirement to be masked for outdoor sports. She said that staff can take off their masks sometimes too, as long as their are distancing, so that the masks don't get all clammy. She also said that they only register 15 skaters for each spot -- 10 spots are left open for drop-ins. The rinks are cleared every 45 minutes, and left empty for 15 minutes, until the next wave of skaters come on.



At 11.30 a.m., Dufferin Rink had skaters on both pads -- not yet 25 on each. They looked like all kids-and-parents and were 100% masked. Meantime, the Dufferin Grove playground was full of kids and parents as well, and they were 100% NOT masked. Different cultures, for now.


Dufferin skate changing

At 3 p.m., Trinity Rink was empty and locked. The ice was so thin that the tennis lines were clearly visible. A rink monitor said they had to close because of (1) the weather (too sunny) and (2) the encampment, which was putting the staff in danger. He said the rink would have to be closed all week, for the same reason. However, presumably once the zamboni crew have put down enough water, the rink will be able to open for the season. The encampment is very far away from the rink, but perhaps the homeless people are using the rink house washrooms as their only access to toilets and water for washing.
At 3.30 p.m. Harry Gairey Rink in Alexandra Park was empty, with the hockey side locked, although the ice looked okay on the unfenced side. People in the park said that there been lots of skaters earlier.

Harry Gairey/Scadding

Trinity: clearly had insufficient flooding

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Content last modified on January 19, 2021, at 03:58 PM EST