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wood stove at Dufferin


November and December 2008

Friday November 21, 2008

At a community/rink staff meeting to plan out the coming rink season, there were lots of good ideas -- family Sundays with hot chocolate and a campfire, on-ice games for beginning skaters, arts and crafts to be run by the Friends of Christie Pits, healthy snacks made in the community kitchen and involving youth in the preparations.

But near the end of the meeting, when the wood supply for the wood stove came up, it emerged that the wood stove is considered an "unauthorized installation." The rink/swimming pool change area is not well-secured and has been the location of many break-ins over the years, and it seems that a small fire may have been set in the last break-in. Someone downtown seems to have concluded that the solution is to get rid of the wood-stove.

No one at the meeting was happy to hear that, and they asked the community centre co-ordinator to follow up.

The wood stove was installed in 1998, with funds brokered by Councillor Joe Pantalone, and with the support of Mario Zanetti, then the Director of Parks and Recreation.

Tuesday Nov.25, 2008

Lots of back and forth about the wood stove. Are community assets being destroyed? Is this kind of threat based on evidence of danger or just on the numbing power of the free-standing word "safety"?

From the city staff who look after the buildings: "The councillor may have funded and endorsed the project, but these types of installations have to be in compliance with all applicable codes. Our understanding is that it is a contravention of the fire code due to the building occupancy type, not the actual stove installation."

There is certainly much puzzlement about who initiates and follows through these frequent crises associated with community activities in parks. Again, from the "Facilities and Real Estate" staff: "Our direction for these buildings comes from Parks. We don't act unilaterally on issues normally and definitely not on sensitive issues such as this that have the potential to have a negative impact on the community."

To be continued!

Monday December 1, 2008

Monica Gupta, the president of Friends of Christie Pits, forwarded an e-mail from the recreation supervisor, about the use of the rink's community kitchen. The supervisor wrote that the kitchen will not be available for community use this rink season. No hot chocolate, no healthy snacks!

Back story: For the past (unknown number of) years the kitchen has been licensed to Jack Domenico, the owner of the Maple Leafs Baseball team. The amount of the license fee is not public, although it's rumoured to be about $2000 a year. In the summer, Jack is said to sublet the kitchen to another person for $1800. In the winter he keeps it locked, and the only snacks are chips and pop from vending machines (but they're often broken). There are lots of complaints from skaters.

In the past, the kitchen was used for a youth program preparing healthy snacks, and for many community events (the kitchen was put in at the request of a community planning group when the building was renovated in the early 1990s).

The supervisor's letter explained:

To enable non-profit community groups to legally operate our snack bars/community kitchens our general manager has directed business services to set-up agreements to be done via leases for below market rent tenants. In simple language this means that groups will not have to pay rent like profit making groups but they will have to show proof of non-profit status. PF&R will still have control who gets the contract. The snack bar operation for [the rink building] will be the first one done like this and it will take a while to draft, to go through Legal and then to post for groups to apply for it.

So here is what you can tell Monica:

1. They will have to show proof of not-for- profit status; if they do not have that they need to apply to get it or a charitable number as that takes a while.

2. Terry Webber is going to rush this but it will not be done and in place for this season's pleasure skate program but will be in place for summer pool season.

3. Once the RFP is done it will be on the city's website and we will let Monica know when it is there to apply for it.

Monica says the Friends of Christie Pits group won't want to get this complicated. So the rink house kitchen may be locked again this winter. An odd situation: a public facility built with public funds, locked because managers -- also paid from public funds -- say it can't be used. So here is the second "no" from the civil servants -- no to the wood stove and no to the kitchen, even though both exist and are paid for.

Tuesday Dec.2, 2008

The rink has a thick layer of hard ice on it, looks like 2 inches already. One of the Rec staff said the technicians were working on the compressors until 9 last night, but that they began making ice on the weekend or even earlier. The ice is there, but the rink is not scheduled to open to the public until this coming weekend.

Wednesday Dec.3 2008

warm woodstove

Good news about the Fire Code -- Bruce Scott at the Ontario Fire Marshall's office says there's NO rule against wood stoves in rinks. A point for common sense! Now there's just the health and safety committee. One of their questions is "Has anyone complained to the Staff about Eye/Nose&Throat Irritation, Headaches, Nausea or Dizziness from the wood smoke." Happily, wood stoves are designed not to smoke, and the excellent "Regency" model from Marsh's Stoves -- installed at Christie Pits in 1998 -- never does when used properly.

Good news also from downtown -- the wood stove is allowed to operate after all.


Friday Dec.5 2008

At noon there are about 25 shinny players using shoes to mark out nets. The guys need a net but there aren't any. The ice needs maintenance, but the rink isn't open yet officially.

Saturday Dec.6 2008

At 10.15 a.m. the entry to the public parking area is locked, with a sign that says, "staff parking only." When the rink was redesigned, this parking area was put there for rink users. But staff are trying to prevent parking by non-hockey-players who made all sorts of trouble at this rink last year.

"staff parking only"

some nasty divits and cracks in the ice

Christie Rink has had ice for many days -- apparently the compressors were started on Nov.28 or maybe even earlier. There was some rain after that and the rink has no drains, so the water just stayed on and froze. But when a big load of water freezes at once, ice gets very uneven, and that seems to be what happened here. There has been no zamboni since the ice went in. The first skaters left, saying the ice was too rough to skate.

The flying crew arrived with the zamboni at 10.30 a.m., and after that the ice was better. They also left the gate unlocked, so that people can park there again. Later, some Friends of Christie Pits arrived with Christmas wrap, a tree, and three easy chairs. They even wrapped the unused pop machine, which certainly looks nicer than when it had its chronic "out of order" sign.

Christmas tree from Friends of Christie Pits

former pop machine

December 8 1008

Ice maintenance: 1 pm and 6 pm

December 9 2008

Ice maintenance: 1.45 pm and 3.10 pm

December 10, 2008

Some of last year's goofs have returned, parking their cars in the rink parking lot, perhaps selling drugs to each other, certainly giving the rink a strange ambiance. A violent young man from last year, who has a letter of trespass against him, returned to the property against orders, and another young goof told the rink staff that it would not in their interest to report this visit. Threats! The supervisor has asked the corporate security staff to come by and "show the flag." And the gates to the public parking area are kept locked, so that the goofs can't park there. Neither can anyone else, of course. How long until the number of rink users begins to dwindle? One week? Two weeks?

Ice maintenance: 5 pm only.

December 11 2008

Ice maintenance: 1 pm, 6.10 pm

December 12 2008

Ice maintenance: 1.40 pm, 4.30 pm

December 13, 2008

E-mail forwarded to from Monica Gupta, chair, Friends of Christie Pits

[From the Recreation supervisor] Met with Lucky [recreation manager - ed.] today on the interim program scope for the Alex Duff snack bar that was discussed at our meeting this week. He and I are in agreement to proceed with following two programs for this season until we see how things fit with the new guidelines.

1. Sundays from 1-3 pm during the family skate program

2. One off special events that you will confirm with both Monica and the skating staff

Please work with the Friends volunteer group to coordinate these two pieces and work with their volunteers.

Right now we cannot support the expanded use of the kitchen for the other four days a week from 4-7 pm as there are many concerns with this; serving snacks and taking money is not part of BA's job description, Alex Duff is a satellite facility and does not have all the supports in place for staff taking money & to follow our procedures for cash control, do not have the new security system in place yet, we have existing security issues and do not want to put staff at risk. Also we cannot be expanding the use of the kitchen until we know it is in lines with the new guidelines.

Ice maintenance: 4.30 pm only.

December 14 2008

Ice maintenance: 10 am and 5 pm.

December 15, 2008

Meeting notice for Friends of Christie Pits, from Monica Gupta, chair

Please come to our meeting tonight at 7pm at Alex Duff Pool. Everyone is welcome to come and join in the discussion. We will sit by the fire and discuss issues for the new year. This should be a short meeting about 1 hour.


1. Parks Update- Tennis Courts, Benches, Vandalism and Homelessness. (Monica)

2. Events Update- Family Skate Days, Winterlude?, New Volunteers (Dawn)

3. Community Garden- New Volunteers and Coordinator needed. (Neil Dallhoff and friends)

Hot Chocolate will be served!

E-mail from Jutta Mason (for to Monica Gupta, chair of the Friends of Christie Pits

Hi Monica -- in [tonight's Friends of Christie Pits meeting] agenda you may want to add the coming "fork in the road" for the rink -- the Dufferin rec staff have the capacity to address all the problems of Christie Rink (safety/usage/youth outreach/family enjoyment/programming/work standards/consistency), but they have been hobbled so much by Kim's final instructions that my hunch is: their interest and support will not survive long. The rink may have to revert to the direction it's been taking for the last few years -- sad but likely. And a regrettable waste of existing rec staff experience and resources....

Several large school visits for skating have been cancelled this morning. The poor drainage of Christie Rink left a lot of water from the early morning rain. A zamboni could easily take that water off but there is no reliable ice maintenance schedule and the zamboni has not appeared.

4.30 pm: Zamboni came but the staff decided not to clean the ice. Rink users and rec staff tried to push the water off with shovels.

7 pm: the zamboni came and cleaned the ice.

Tuesday December 16

Rink guards made everyone put on a helmet because of the city's mandatory helmet rule. Frustrating for the rink guards --as soon as they turned around, the helmets were off again. Rink guards said that when they play shinny at unsupervised rinks, they never wear a helmet "shinny is not a game played with helmets -- you just don't raise the puck."

Lights came on at 4.37pm -- slightly dim already because of the approach of solstice (sunset at 4.49pm). Ice maintenance supervisor was asked to reset the lights to 4 pm but declined. Shinny players say they can see the puck okay, and in a week the days will start to get longer.

Ice maintenance: 10.25, 6 pm.

Wednesday December 17 2008

There were 2-3 inches of snow overnight. A truck with a plow pushed off the snow from the centre for about an hour at 12 noon, but there were snowbanks left all around the rink boards. The ice maintenance crew returned at 6.30 pm (plow-truck and zamboni) and finished the job. In between, there was enough bare ice that the kids could play, although losing a puck in the snowbanks at the rink edges was a bit of a problem.

trying to play hockey despite the snowbanks

mid-afternoon snowbanks

Thursday December 18 posters were ordered removed from the rink house.

Ice maintenance: 11 a.m and 5 p.m.

4.25 pm: 12 shinny players, none with helmets at this moment.

e-mail sent to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley, cc to Recreation manager Lucky Boothe

I have heard a rumour that the website posters are to be pulled from rinks -- can't get hold of Lucky to confirm -- please note that if there is any wrong information on any rink page, I will correct it as soon as I am told ([email protected]) -- but if it's a gag order not to talk about what's wrong, that seems unworthy of the City.

Would it make more sense to let your supervisors know how they can contact, to correct wrong information?

Friday December 19

Big snowstorm -- all the rinks are closed.

Recreation manager Lucky Boothe said that there is no citywide "gag order" to remove posters, and that he will talk to recreation supervisor Kim Brown on Monday to find out why she gave that order at Christie and Trinity rinks.

Monica Gupta (chair) sent out a news update to the Friends of Christie Pits

Family Skate Days

Every Sunday is Family Skate Day from 1-3pm. This Sunday there may be a surprise Skate with Santa...we just need to find a santa suit. If you have one please let me know a.s.a.p. As always there will be hot chocolate, donuts, cookies and hot dogs. Come in and keep warm by the wood stove and make snowflakes for the windows. We should have a fire pit going on outside the rink too!

With this great winter storm come out with your toboggans, skis and skates. The park is a Winter Wonderland and looks magical.

Snack Bar

There is a snack bar inside Alex Duff which was leased privately for the past five years. This year the Recreation Staff would like to take over the use of the space and offer a full time snack bar full of healthy snacks including fruit, sandwiches and juices during the skating season. However, the city is planning on inviting non-profits and community agencies to apply to use the space for programming and will have a Request For Proposal (RFP) in the spring of 2009.

This means no one will have access to the Snack Bar over this winter. Friends of Christie Pits Park supports the idea of having the space available to Recreation Staff over the 2008-2009 winter season and have made our position known to the Recreation Supervisor and to Councillor Joe Pantalone.

rink full of snow left over from Friday

Please email [email protected] and [email protected] and let them know "You want a full time snack bar over the winter season at Alex Duff run by Recreation Staff. Friends of Christie Pits Park (FCPP) represents 195 members who use the rink and park all year round and would benefit from having a healthy snack bar during the winter season." (feel free to cut and paste)

Saturday December 20

Christie Rink stayed closed all day -- two (or three?) plow trucks came around 8 pm but didn't get done. A zamboni was standing by but never got on the ice at all, there was still way too much snow left over from yesterday's snowstorm. At 9.30 they said they had to leave because of an emergency. This rink may be the last one to be cleared in the city.

Sunday December 21

Two plow trucks came in the morning and cleared off the snow piles by 12 noon. They were expecting the zamboni but it didn't come until 1.45 (went to Wallace Rink instead). The Friends of Christie Pits Park planned a special Family Sunday, with cookie dough for kids to make cookies, and even a Santa suit, in case anyone wanted to dress up as Santa. The snack bar was open and had apples and oranges, mini-pizzas, organic hot dogs, hot chocolate and packages of tasty-looking donuts. Food donations and skate rentals took in $64.49. There was a fire in the woodstove, but no campfire outside because the wind had picked up again and there were some heavy snowflurries too.

Monica Gupta, chair of the Friends, with Santa

Christie snack bar -- two hours a week

snowy path

snowy rink, 1.30 pm

The Rink program staff spent a long time shovelling the access path leading down from Barton Street. This path is not only the north access to the rink, it's also one route to the north toboggan hill. Christie Pits is famous for its toboggan hills, and today there were lots of kids there. Not many people skated -- too snowy -- but the sledding was fine.

cookie making with rink staff

Tobogganing on the north hill

Monday December 22 2008

Ice maintenance 5 pm only

Tuesday December 23 2008

Ice maintenance 10 am and 5 pm

Wednesday December 24 2008

Christmas Day - trying to skate, but too bumpy

There was snow and then lots of rain, and the plows never came. No ice maintenance at all.

Thursday December 25

No maintenance. A couple of people came to try to skate, but the ice was too cratered, and they went home again.

Friday December 26 2008

The plows came and the ice was resurfaced, and the rink reopened.

Saturday December 27 2008

No ice maintenance all day. Since this rink has almost no drainage holes, that means it was a lake, due to rain showers and mild weather.

Sunday December 28 2008

Some rain first thing in the morning, and then the temperature began to drop. But because Christie Rink has no drainage, the rain stayed on. The flying crew came by in the morning and lifted up the hockey nets so they wouldn't sink in. Then they left, without doing any maintenance. The rink program staff had brought up benches for the Sunday campfire, but the wind was too strong. Still, they set up the snack bar inside for the two hours a week it's supposed to be open. People came by but the ice was unskateable, so they left again. No ice maintenance happened until 4.30 pm, a short time before the rink was set to close. Then the crew came and pushed the water off, and the ice was excellent. Too late!

Monday December 29 2008

Ice maintenance: 12.45 and 6 pm

Tuesday December 30 2008

Ice Maintenance: 10 am, 5.30 pm. A busy day at the rink. Sadly, the recreation manager has said that staff are not permitted to rent out skates except for two hours on the weekend. The skates are there, but most of the week no one can use them.

Wednesday Dec.31 2008

Ice maintenance: 10 a.m. only.

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