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Jan.6, 2019, Letter #1, to Ward 14 City Councillor Paula Fletcher: Today I tried to go skating with my baby daughter and was extremely disappointed to learn that City of Toronto Ice rinks no longer allow strollers on the ice. I felt like I was being penalized for being a Mom. I obviously could not leave my child off the rink by herself and am not adept enough to carry her while I skate. I have several friends and family members who informed me they used to take their kids on the City rinks in strollers and none of us could come up with a good reason strollers should be banned. Would the City deny a person in a wheelchair access to the rink? The wheels on my daughters stroller provide her with accessibility to a fun outdoor activity with her family during the winter months and allow her mother to safely skate with her. Could you please look into this and try to ensure City rinks are accessible to everyone, including Moms with young babies.
Jan.7, 2019, response from Laura Anonen, assistant to Councillor Fletcher: Thank you for writing to Councillor Fletcher about using your stroller on the ice. Could you let me know which rink or skating trail you were at? I can share your email and concerns with her.
Under Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 608, Parks, section 608-21 - Skating, it states that no person shall skate in a manner that may interfere or endanger another skater. City staff have informed us that approved skate aids are permitted, but strollers, chairs or homemade assistive-skate devices are not permitted on the ice. Generally they have found that these devices trip other skaters around them and have had to control their access on the ice.
I can share your concerns with City staff in Parks and Recreation as well, and ask them to advise on your case.
Response from the mom: We were at Dufferin Grove visiting my sister and her kids and felt very excluded from the fun. Now I feel like I shouldn’t even bother going to the rinks in my neighbourhood, we live on Mountjoy at Danforth and Greenwood. My sister also wrote to her Councillor. There is also an article in the Dufferin Grove Park newsletter which states that people have been bringing strollers for over 20 years and there has never been an accident on the ice involving one. The staff at the park kept stating the rule had always been in place but why is it suddenly being enforced?
Thanks for your help in resolving this matter.
Jan.10, 2019, response from Laura Anonen, assistant to Councillor Fletcher: I have been corresponding with Todd Davison from Community Recreation at the City. He informed me that strollers are usually allowed on the ice if not being used as a skating aid and if the person is a confident skater. This is an issue he has been working on and he will let staff know about this.
He also advised that you should speak with the staff at the site you are visiting - however each location can make a call if they are concerned to their direct supervisor for clarification. You can let staff know you spoke to the Councillor's office who was advised by Todd Davidson.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if have any trouble in the future.
Jan.7, 2019, Letter #2, to Ward 9 City Councillor Ana Bailao: I am emailing you to share what happened to our family at Dufferin Grove skating rink yesterday,Sunday, January 6 in the hopes that you can have the ridiculous and baseless rule rescinded.
My sister and one year old niece travelled across the City to join us on the last day of the holidays for a day of family skating at Dufferin Grove skating rink yesterday. When my sister started to skate around the rink with my niece in her stroller - as I did for many years with my own children when they were babies - the staff told her that strollers were not allowed and she would need to leave.
This rule is ridiculous. It has never been enforced at Dufferin Grove until this year. I had ZERO problems when I took my own babies skating from 2011 to 2016. No one tripped over the wheels, it did not impact the ice surface negatively, and no one was ever hurt.
Taking my babies skating in their stroller allowed me to get outside, be physically active, be out in my community and see neighbours and friends, and gave us an accessible, free family activity. When my three year old was old enough to use a skate frame, I could take her skating with her little brother in his stroller.
Is the City now denying all these important benefits to parents of young children?
My sister felt unwelcome and our family skate day much less fun when she had to watch from the sidelines after travelling across the city (no small feat with a one year old).
There are so few outdoor winter activities that are accessible and affordable for parents of young children. It's outrageous that the City is now choosing to deny people access to this activity because of an arbitrary rule that is based on litigious fear and not on reality. I ask that you have this rule rescinded immediately so that the rest of the skating season can be recovered.
I look forward to your response.