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The rink is scheduled to open today. When staff arrive at 10am they find the rink is covered by the same rough sheet of ice that has been there for days. There are some skate marks but it isn't clear whether the ice is ready. A steady stream of hockey players come and ask if the rink is open. The building attendant shows them the ice and say they can try it if they like. A few do, but no one stays long. People are also phoning to see if the rink is open.
At about 11:30 a man from corporate services comes to look at the compressor. The compressor is working properly. At 11:45 the Zamboni arrives to do a scrape and flood. He takes longer than usual.
A few players say the ice isn't bad, but there is a patch near the side gate where the Zamboni has flooded over a pile of leaves. The rink is busy all day. Most of the players are the same regulars who played last year, but there are also some new faces who have questions about the rink and its schedule.
4-6pm is set aside for pleasure skating. Park rec staff set up a campfire and start serving free hot chocolate and hot dogs. However, the weather is bad and no pleasure skaters show up. Staff tell the hockey players they can stay on the ice for now, but will have to leave if any pleasure skaters show up. None do.
When it starts to snow, players ask to use the green shovels to clear the surface. The players push the snow to the Zamboni gate while a staff person moves it from there to a pile by the playground.
Late in the afternoon when it starts getting dark, the lights don't go on. A crew from the City arrives to fix the problem. At 6pm, they were still working on it.
At 6pm the ice is busy is full of hockey players, 30 in all. There are also some in the rinkhouse. The ice is snowy and players want to know when the Zamboni is coming. The staff person on duty doesn't know. He calls Dufferin Grove, but staff there don't know either. It seems unlikely the Zamboni will be coming.
Players also want to know if there is a permit tonight. The staff person says there isn't. However, shortly before 8 a man shows up saying he has a permit. At 8, the staff person tells the drop-in players they have to leave the ice. They aren't happy.
Last year there were arguments between permit players, many of whom live outside the neighbourhood, and the drop-in shinny players who live nearby. Some of the local players make a point of saying Campbell is their rink. Shortly after 8, a local shinny player arrives with two friends. He is visibly annoyed that there's a permit. (Last winter this same fellow got into an argument with players from another permit group.) He wants to know if there are twelve players on the ice. He says the permit group has to have at least twelve players. If they don't, they can't have the ice to themselves.
The staff person, who is new, doesn't know if that's true or not. However, this permit group does have twelve players. The local shinny player asks the permit players if they will share the ice. The permit group says no. There is no trouble, but the local player is very unhappy.
Ice maintenance: once only.
Ice maintenance: twice.
Campbell is mainly used by hockey players. Although there are times on the schedule set aside for shared use, pleasure skaters find it hard to share the ice with fast-moving hockey players. As part of an effort to make pleasure skaters feel more welcome, rink staff have set aside two hours each Saturday (4-6pm) exclusively for pleasure skating. Park workers light a campfire near the gates. They give out free chocolate and sell hot dogs for a dollar.
Last Saturday the weather was bad and no pleasure skaters showed up. This Saturday was a little better. A grandmother came by with three children. She rented skates for the children. The children had trouble skating at first because their skates were too loose, but after rink staff helped them tighten their skates they had a great time. The young boy, Joey, was very proud of the fact that he had skated from one end of the rink to the other.
A father came by with his child. He said his wife had come by the rink earlier in the day to ask about pleasure skating.
After grumbling about not being able to play hockey, some of the younger players also went pleasure skating. A few of the older players also took a few turns around the ice.
After an hour the pleasure skaters had gone. As soon as they left the hockey players who had been waiting on the benches jumped on the ice and started to play hockey. A rink staffer started to stop them. At first he didn't realize all the pleasure skaters had gone. After making sure everyone left on the ice wanted to play hockey, the staffer relented.
This is always a dilemma at Campbell. On the one hand, it seems silly to leave the ice empty when so many boys want to play hockey. On the other hand, allowing them to play discourages pleasure skaters. If people interested in pleasure skating walk by the rink during pleasure skating hours and see hockey players on the ice, they get discouraged. From time to time, pleasure skaters have complained to rink staff about the hostile reception they get from hockey players. Even today, one of the young hockey players complained within earshot of the three grandchildren that it was unfair to keep a large group of hockey players off the ice so that a small group of pleasure skaters could use it.
Rink staff make a point of telling pleasure skaters that nearby Wallace-Emerson is double-pad where pleasure skaters have an ice pad all too themselves, but some people who live near Campbell don't want to walk that far.
Ice maintenance: once only, at 2.30.
Ice maintenance: two times.
At 4:45pm there is a lively game of shinny at the rink. However, the dozen or so players can only use part of the ice, because at the west end the net had sunk into the soft ice leaving two deep horseshoe-shaped grooves. Staff have placed a pylon and a bucket near the groove to warn players to stay clear. Meanwhile at the east end a messy combination of water and slush covers a layer of still hard ice below. The Zamboni is at the rink, but doesn't go on the ice. The rink coordinator, Sarah, makes some calls. She is concerned because a permit group is expected to arrive at 7.
There's a lot of slush at the east end. A park worker wonders if there's a problem with the pipes underneath. However, one of the regular players says the east end always melts first. A little after six, another park worker arrives at the rink. By this time it is colder and the ice at the east end has frozen again. The Zamboni driver does a scrape and flood at 6:15.
The regulars who play shinny complain that it is taking too long. They are already unhappy because the permit group is coming and are frustrated that the scrape and flood are eating into the open shinny time still available. A few make catcalls. They say things like "Go a little slower" or "What's the matter? Are you just learning to drive?" By the time the Zamboni leaves, there's twenty minutes of open shinny left.
Members of the permit group start arriving at about quarter to 7. At 7, the rink staffer tells the shinny players they have to leave the ice. There is some grumbling and the players are slow to leave. However, they do go. One of the local boys complains that one of the permit players aimed a slapshot at him. However, the rink staffer didn't see what happened because he was busy getting players to leave.
At 9, the rink staffer tells the permit group that their time is up but they are free to continue playing so long as they understand it is now open shinny. However, at 9 none of the local players are at the rink. One of the players in the permit group can't find a pair of white shoes. He's not sure what happened to them. Another player complains that a pair of skate guards were stolen from his hockey bag.
Ice maintenance -- no record, maybe one time, maybe twice.
There was 2-3 inches of snow overnight so the rink was not good for skating. The plough and Zamboni came at 4 pm and did the ice, just once for that day. Lots of shinny players came after that but by 8.30 the ice was too snowy and everyone left.
Ice maintenance: 7.15 p.m.
The rink staffer (building attendant) arrived at 10 and spent two hours clearing snow on the front path and around the rinkhouse. Shortly after noon three local teenagers asked if they could clear out part of the ice. The building attendant went out with them and told them not to put any snow against the boards, because that would make it harder for the Zamboni to clear the ice. He also warned them not to lose any pucks in the snow, pointing out that a puck can damage a Zamboni. The three teenagers cleared out a section in the middle of the ice and began playing. Later a man and a woman came and cleared out a second section and began playing there.
The building attendant made some hot chocolate which he gave out to people who came by to see if the rink was open. A grandmother who lives up the street stopped in with four children. The children had rented skates before during a Saturday pleasure skate. They were anxious to go skating again. The rink staffer said that Sunday afternoon was shared use, which meant they would have to skate while people were playing hockey. He pointed out that Wallace-Emerson was open and that it had a separate pleasure-skating pad. The children, however, didn't want to walk to Wallace. The grandmother finally decided to rent three pairs of skates. By that time the first group of hockey players had left and the children were able to use the patch of ice the players had cleared. The children also spent time in the rinkhouse eating hot dogs and looking at the rink's small collection of children's books.
Some local hockey players also stopped in. They didn't bother bringing sticks or skates. They just drank hot chocolate and hung out for a while. Later the building attendant got a call from Christie Pits asking if there was any shinny at Campbell. Two men had come to Christie to play hockey, but couldn't because that rink only had pleasure skating at the moment. The building attendant explained that there had been no ice maintenance but that two sections of the ice had been cleared by rink users.
A little while later two men showed up at Campbell. They wanted to play shinny and asked if there was a charge for using the ice. The building attendant said skating and shinny were free. He asked the men if they were from out of town. The men said they had come from Brampton looking for a place to play shinny. Staff at Christie had directed them to Campbell. The building attendant told them Toronto operates 49 compressor-cooled outdoor rinks. The men said they had just learned that by going online. They thought this was sick quickly explaining that sick meant good.
They asked if they could borrow shovels to make the cleared section of the ice larger. The rink staffer said if they were willing to push the snow to the main gates at the west end of the rink, he would clear the snow from there. The building attendant also warned them about not losing any pucks in the snow. The men cleared a very large section of the ice. It took the building attendant two hours to clear the pile of snow they left at the gate.
After the men from Brampton left, a group of four players took their place on the the patch of ice they had cleared. When the building attendant left at 6, the four men were still playing. Like the previous groups of players, they were warned not to lose any pucks in the snow.
Ice maintenance: one time only.
Another snowy day that called for lots of shovelling. Some of the regular shinny players started their Christmas holidays today. When the rink staffer (building attendant) arrived at 3pm, he found thirty players on the ice. Some had been there since 10am and were unhappy that the rinkhouse wasn't open earlier. They told the rink staffer that the Zamboni had been by at 9:30.
By 4pm it was snowing heavily and the players asked for shovels to clear the ice. The rink staffer brought out the two large green shovels. The players pushed the snow to the two rink gates while the staffer cleared the snow from the gates. By 5pm, 10 players were left on the ice despite the snow. After a while the remaining players left leaving the ice empty for a while.
At around 7, a local man brought his two nieces for pleasure skating. He said they had been by earlier, but didn't go on the ice because of the hockey players. 7pm is shinny time on the schedule, but since there were only three hockey players on the ice, the rink attendant let the girls skate. Their uncle asked for a shovel to clear the ice. Once again the building attendant brought out the big green shovels. The uncle and two of the hockey players pushed the snow to the gates which the rink attendant cleared. The rink attendant hadn't quite finished clearing the west gate when the Zamboni arrived. After the Zamboni had scraped the rest of the snow, the ice was in good shape. But the snow kept coming and the rink was soon covered again.
The weather didn't stop people from coming the rink. Some of the boys played hockey despite the snow, while others stayed in the rinkhouse and played checkers.
At about 8:30, Grace, who has a regular Tuesday-night permit, stopped by to make sure the rink staffer knew about the permit. A little while later, the first of the permit group arrived. They played checkers while deciding whether to go ahead with the game in the snow. The rink attendant offered to bring out the green shovels again.
Since the permit group was short-handed, they let the local players share the ice. Together the permit group and the local players cleared the ice using the green shovels, while the rink staffer cleared the snow from the gates. That done, the people on the ice put their sticks in the middle of the ice, and chose sides in the time-honoured way. Sticks were thrown left and right. Which way your stick went determined which team you were on. Despite the snow there was a lively game of shinny.
Normally, the rinkhouse closes at 9 and Grace's group takes off their skates outside. However, looking at the snow piling down, the rink staffer didn't have the heart to lock the players out. He stayed later so that the hockey players could change indoors.
Colder and sunny. However the rink had to stay closed because the piles of snow left by the ice maintenance crew yesterday were frozen and stuck to the ice. The only skater today was a young boy who came with his mom in the morning. She said her son wanted to try on his new skates and that there was enough good ice for him to that.
The rink was ploughed out at about 2:15 and then the Zamboni finished repairing the ice at 4pm. The staff said the nets couldn't be put on the ice because it was "soft," but the skaters rightly pointed out that the ice was not soft, so the staff let them bring the nets back on. "Three days without ice, and then no nets for shinny! It's too much. "
At 10am the ice was a little softer than it had been last night and the nets had started to sink slightly into the surface. The air was warm and there was a light drizzle coming down. The ice was hard enough for skating but no one was there. At a quarter to eleven, a couple came by with their young daughter. They asked if the rink was open. The building attendant said it was. They skated for about fifteen minutes. Afterwards they asked about pleasure skating times. The building attendant gave them a schedule and mentioned that Wallace-Emerson was a double pad where they could go pleasure skating anytime. The couple said Campbell was better for them, because they would only be skating with their daughter for fifteen minutes at a time.
At 11 a plough came to the rink. The driver put the hockey nets up and left. At 12:30 the Zamboni came by. By that time it was raining fairly heavily and the rink had become a lake. The Zamboni driver used a hose to wash down the high ice that had been left by the west gate.
The ice underneath the water was hard enough for skating. An hour later the steady rain became a brief downpour. When the rain let up, the rink was covered in water and fog. The rink was very quiet most of the day. A few people stopped by to check the ice or to pick up a schedule.
At 7, a father stopped by with two of his sons to play shinny. By this time, the ice was in pretty good shape. Most of the water had either run off or frozen. After the first group started playing, a second dad came by with two younger boys to ask about playing hockey at Campbell. He said they usually play either at Dufferin or inside at McCormick where they have to pay. He asked if his boys can play here for free.
This is a surprisingly common question at Campbell this year. Maybe it has something to do with new people moving to the neighbourhood from places where there aren't city-run outdoor rinks. Campbell, like all of Toronto's municipally-run outdoor artificial ice rinks, is paid for by taxes. With the exception of people who reserve a permit time, there is no charge for skating and playing hockey here.
At 8, the first father leaves the ice with his sons. He says the ice is good in the middle, but is high along the edges. He suggests this needs to be taken care of. At about the same time the second father comes back with his two boys. Then another father arrives with two more boys. The four boys play shinny while the two fathers look on. One man is from Portugal. He says he never learned to skate but likes watching his boys play.
At 10am it is warm outside. Nobody is skating or playing hockey. The nets, which had been put up on the benches last night, were back on the ice and had left grooves in the soft surface. The grooves were deeper at the east end, which confirms what a hockey player had said previously about the east end of the rink going soft before the west end does. The ice surface was very smooth and looked like it had been cleaned but there was a lot of water at the ends and on the north side.
A little after 10, a driver and another worker arrived with the Zamboni. They put the nets back on the benches. After putting up the nets and looking around, the two workers left. They did not bring the Zamboni on the ice even though there was a lot of water on it.
At 12:30pm, a man comes to the rink, looks at the ice and says it looks good enough for skating. He says he'll be back with his boy. The first skaters of the day, a father and his teenage son here to play hockey, arrive at 1. A few of the local rink rats, four teenage boys, also come by. They don't have their skates with them and just want to hang out. The building attendant offers them hot chocolate but they aren't interested. When the city staffer suggests they get their skates and play some hockey, one of the boys says it's too cold.
Then a second father and son come to play hockey. Then the dad who said the ice was good enough to play on came back with his son, so that there were three father and son pairs playing a fast-paced game of shinny. One of the men said the ice was pretty good except there was a lot of stuff stuck in it. He said it could use a good scrape. Also, there's still a lot of water at the east end.
While the fathers and sons were playing, some of the regular shinny players arrived. A slow, but steady stream of players came and went during the afternoon. There were six-seven players on the ice at a time. At around 5, a couple of moms came to the rink with their sons. While the boys played, the women kept warm in the rinkhouse, drinking coffee and chatting with each other in Korean.
The Zamboni did a flood and scrape between 3:30 and 3:45pm. The Zamboni came back at 8:10pm and did a second flood. At 8:30, the rink lights went out. Some of the hockey players ran after the Zamboni driver. One of the players used to work at the rink and knows there's a timer in the compressor room. He asks the Zamboni driver to check it. The driver agrees. When he comes out, he tells the players the timer had been set to 8. He turned the lights back on and re-set the timer to 10:30.
It was a busy evening at the rink. Maybe the players were making up for the days lost to bad weather and poor maintenance.
At 4 o'clock there were thirty hockey players on the ice. Two fathers and their young boys were practicing at the west end behind the net, while most of the other players played a very fast game of shinny. The young boys were wearing full equipment, which is rare at Campbell.
According to the schedule, 4-6:30pm is reserved for children under 17 and their caregivers. The building attendant approached the fathers and asked if they had enough room to play. The fathers said they were alright, except for the fact that the game sometimes went into end zone. The building attendant offered to speak to the older players about this, but the fathers said that wasn't necessary. They said the older players had been OK. One of the older players overheard the conversation, looked at the rink staffer and nodded his head to show he understood about the need to keep the game out of the end zone.
At about 6, it started to rain. A hockey player complained about the ice and asked if the Zamboni would be coming back. At 7, there were twenty players on the ice and another ten lacing up skates in the dressing room. When a few of those players came off the ice, they stayed in the rinkhouse to drink juice and play checkers. A number players complained about the ice and were unhappy when the building attendant said the Zamboni might not be coming again. They were very happy when the Zamboni arrived after 8 to do a flood and scrape. After the Zamboni left at 8:30pm, there were fifteen players on the ice.
Ice maintenance -- plough at 8 a.m., Zamboni at 3:45.