See also Site Map
At 9.10 pm on a mild winter night, there are 12 pleasure-skaters, enjoying one of the rare programmed public skating times. In the community room beside the rink there is a large and lively group of disabled kids and families, who can look out onto the ice through the big picture windows.
On the rink change room door there is a sign saying that the rink is available for extra drop-in skating whenever there is neither a program or a permit, but that pucks and sticks are never allowed during that time.
The zamboni driver says that the youth are really unhappy about having only two hours a week to play drop-in shinny (the remaining two hours are for little kids). On the rink office desk, there's a clipboard with a long sheet of permit slots, many of them blank for this day. Apparently the way it works is that anyone who pays, gets the permit, so there can be 20 people wanting to skate, and somebody might book the time for three people. As long they pay, the ice can be taken by the three people and the twenty are turned away. The zamboni driver says that on those occasions it feels very strange -- an empty rink, lights blazing, staff on duty -- with only a few people skating around on their own.
The economics are not impressive. Broadlands Rink, with its hustling approach to selling permits, earned $16,526.56 in permit income in 2008. That makes it the third highest-earning rink in the city. But the City estimates that the full cost, for the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, of running the 49 outdoor rinks for the 3-month season is $5.7 million. To recover its assigned share of this cost, Broadlands would have had to earn at least $121,000 -- not close to realistic for outdoor rinks.
So the gap between income and cost is huge. Broadlands Rink currently dips into the public purse for an extra $104,474 in tax funding per season to deliver a meager 12 hours of public drop-in skating a week. At the same time, it has more staff and equipment than many rinks that offer ten times that amount of public drop-in skating.
It's time for this to change, and for City management to treat this 80% tax-funded rink as a public amenity for all the citizens for 80% of the time. Broadlands Rink should set a realistic income target and beyond that, open its gates to the many youth who love to play drop-in shinny, at the rink their parents' taxes fund.
A meeting at Councillor Minnan-Wong's office, with North York Recreation manager Costanza Allevato and Recreation supervisor Wendy Jang. The question was: how can Broadlands rink get more public drop-in shinny hockey than their current 4 hours a week? Wendy explained that signs had already been made that would allow more public skating including shinny hockey. However, she said she had become concerned about future problems with the new schedule and had held off posting them so she could seek advice from both Risk Management and Parks ice maintenance managers. There was still some uncertainty but she was willing to post paper signs in the interim, to allow the additional skating and remove the rule against ever using pucks and sticks during the unsupervised times.
The question was raised about prime time public skating, and Councillor Minnan-Wong said that there ought to be a fair balance, and that the "first principle" in considering this ought to be "maximum use of public resources." It was agreed that this would involve an analysis of the current permit schedule.
The question was raised whether it would be possible to introduce a skate-lending program to increase use in public times. Recreation management felt this would be problematic because of a city policy against cash-handling by staff.
Hello -- to follow up from Monday's meeting about Broadlands Rink:
I went there this morning hoping to take a photo of the banner or the new signs. I was surprised to see only this paper poster (photo excerpt):
"No sticks or pucks on the ice" -- so nothing has changed, still no additional shinny hockey. Can you let me know if it will be changing?
Also, the day after we met, the Dufferin Rink staff got a directive to work toward conforming with the city's cash-handling policy. Since there is no city computer at the park, this will take some working out. However, I assume there's a computer at Broadlands, so the rink staff could enter all income and expenses easily. Here is the December skate balance for Dufferin Rink (as you see, it pays for itself, especially if staff can do most of the rentals as part of their regular shift -- all staff have tons of spare time, including Local 416 staff.
Attached is the revised skate schedule for Broadlands AIR for the remainder of the season. A temporary (paper) sign has been put up effective February 19, and all location staff have been advised of the changed schedule. Installation of the permanent sign to follow.
That's a good start. Three questions:
1. Did Chapley and Glen Long get the same paper signs, or only Broadlands?
2. I see that none of the non-program shinny hockey times are in prime time, i.e. none after 3.30 on weekdays, and none on weekends. So no open shinny for school kids, nor for youth, nor for working folks. Is that because prime time is 100% permits?
3. I see that all three North York single pads are scheduled to stay open to March 15. Will they be keeping their permit schedule for the extension as well? If not, that could be a good time for shinny players (little and big) to get extra ice time in the evenings (daytime is often mush in March). Can that be arranged?