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Welcome to The Unofficial Website of Toronto's Outdoor Skating Rinks

There's nothing like outdoor skating

A project of CELOS (*)

City Hall/Nathan Phillips Square Rink Profile

Opened: Nov.22, 2014
Closes: scheduled for March 22, 2015

Rink change area: A new change area, with a snack bar too.

Staff: One to three rink guards at a time, plus a zamboni operator always on site.

Helmet use: only leisure skaters under six

Cityrinks.ca position paper: is the city's helmet in need of an update? Should little kids be forced to wear only CSA approved helmets?

Maintenance: The rink has its own Zamboni, and its own operator on two shifts. Very well maintained. However, during large events in the Square, the ice isn't cleaned because it's too hard to get the large crowd of skaters off the ice. 14 shifts a week.


Comments about this rink: e-mail us at rinkissues@cityrinks.ca.


a very popular spot for skaters -- how can they even move?

Rink Diary

 

2014 - 2015

Jan.8 2014

A skater pointed out that there is a change room at this rink. Somehow we never noticed it, so we went today to take some photos. There was a hand-lettered sign saying "lockers and change room" on an otherwise unmarked door to the left of the staff office. And indeed, through another door there was such a room. It's pretty small, though -- looks like it might accommodate 10 people, 15 in a tight squeeze, and on New Year's Day (and many weekends), the number of skaters on the ice was more like 200. So that must be why all those young skaters were crowded into the women's washroom to get warm.


hand-lettered sign: ""lockers and change room"

signs on inner door

north side of little change room

south side of little change room
 
Jan.1 2015 New Year's Day: Mayor John Tory's skating party

The mayor's skating party highlighted some of the shortcomings of Toronto's main civic rink. Hopefully the mayor and his wife didn't come down with pneumonia, from the chill.

There's nowhere warm to change into skates. The mayor and his wife were surrounded by people from the moment they crossed from city hall over to the rink. Neither of them was wearing a hat, and the wind was bitter. Winter.

As long as people kept moving -- i.e. skating -- they were all right. But anyone who stopped and stood still got cold really fast. The women's washroom was full of shivering teenagers trying to shelter from the wind. Skaters had to change into their skates on an outdoor bench -- but because the rink was so packed, there were no bench spots left. Many were sitting on the cold concrete on the edge of the rink.

Presumably an aide would have been able to persuade some skaters to vacate a bench on the side of the rink, for the mayor and his wife to change into their skates -- but by the time Mayor Tory had given various media soundbites and had posed for dozens of photos with eager citizens, did he and his wife have any feeling left in their fingers, to lace up?

We can't report on this puzzle, because the CityRinks visitor got very cold too. Before the mayor and his wife got their skates on, the CityRinks visitor cycled to the Osgoode subway, got her bike onto the elevator and into the train, and had a warm ride on the TTC to Dufferin Rink. The rink clubhouse was warmer still, and filled with people catching up with their neighbours -- and eating Mary Sylwester's spicy winter soup, being sold at the rink's zamboni cafe.

Better.


New Year's Day skaters, 1.45 pm, looking from the mezzanine

warning sign at the skate rental -- the point is?

the bell chimes 2: the mayor and his wife walk over to the rink

the mayor's speech: "have a safe new year"

big crowd around the mayor: where to change into skates?

skaters sitting on the concrete, not enough benches
 
Dec.30, 2014

Press release

Mayor Tory invites Toronto residents to his January 1 skating party

Toronto Mayor John Tory and City councillors are inviting residents to join them at the Mayor's New Year's Day Skating Party on Thursday, January 1. The family-friendly event at Nathan Phillips Square will give residents an opportunity to mix and mingle with Mayor Tory and other members of City Council on the first day of 2015.

Date: Thursday, January 1, 2015. Time: 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Mayor's welcoming remarks at about 2 p.m. Location: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W.

In anticipation of a large public turnout, a space will be reserved for media to the east of the event stage for the Mayor's welcome message. Due to safety considerations, cabling will only be permitted in the area reserved for media.

Media availability: There will be a media availability with Mayor Tory to the east of the event stage immediately after his public remarks.

Holiday Hours: the city's rink information website/311 says that Nathan Phillips (City Hall) Rink will be open (with access to the changeroom/washroom) every day of the holidays including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Dec.15 2014

a popular place to skate

It's mild and overcast, but even so, there are lots of people skating. The ice is excellent.

 
Dec.7 2014

The ice is excellent now.

Nov.25 2014

At 7.30 pm the rink was unlit and empty, although there was a beautiful sheet of ice. Two staff were in the rink guard booth. One explained very politely that the ice was too soft and not thick enough, and that they needed to build it up without skaters on it. He said that if it's cold tomorrow, they can open it, but if it gets up as high as 4 degrees, it will melt again. The rink visitor explained that artificial ice rinks don't work like that. The rink guard looked exasperated and said "every rink is different." He did agree that part of the reason for building the ice up more was the upcoming "Cavalcade of lights" event on Nov.29.

After thanking him for his information, the rink visitor walked along the ice and found that it was good ice. A loudspeaker came on saying "no skating."

 
Nov.21, 2014

The rink looks in good shape, ready to open tomorrow.


smooth surface, ready to open

washroom has mats right into the stalls
 

2013-2014

Dec.23 2013

The rink reopened in the morning.

Dec.22 2013

The ice storm coated the city with ice, and City Hall rink was closed down. The city's website doesn't give a reason, but in the long lineup across the street at the Sheraton (people looking for hotel rooms because their homes were cold and dark), somebody said that the strings of Christmas lights on the arches above the rink were so heavy with ice that the staff were worried they'd drop down on the skaters. So they got everybody out of there.

Read More >>

Views of the rink

From The City of Toronto Website 2014-15

For the skating schedule, go to City Hall, then click on Skating.

Notes

City Hall Rink

  • This rink is always opened first and closed last. Because it's in the shadow from a big hotel to the south, its ice is better than rinks that are in direct sunlight.
  • Parking underground in city hall lot (pricey but handy).
  • 5 minutes from two subway lines and 2 minutes from the Queen Streetcar.
  • Skate Rental: 416 304-1400. This is also the most reliable number to find out how the ice is.

Rink Diary 2013 - 2014

2014 - 2015

Jan.8 2014

A skater pointed out that there is a change room at this rink. Somehow we never noticed it, so we went today to take some photos. There was a hand-lettered sign saying "lockers and change room" on an otherwise unmarked door to the left of the staff office. And indeed, through another door there was such a room. It's pretty small, though -- looks like it might accommodate 10 people, 15 in a tight squeeze, and on New Year's Day (and many weekends), the number of skaters on the ice was more like 200. So that must be why all those young skaters were crowded into the women's washroom to get warm.


hand-lettered sign: ""lockers and change room"

signs on inner door

north side of little change room

south side of little change room
 
Jan.1 2015 New Year's Day: Mayor John Tory's skating party

The mayor's skating party highlighted some of the shortcomings of Toronto's main civic rink. Hopefully the mayor and his wife didn't come down with pneumonia, from the chill.

There's nowhere warm to change into skates. The mayor and his wife were surrounded by people from the moment they crossed from city hall over to the rink. Neither of them was wearing a hat, and the wind was bitter. Winter.

As long as people kept moving -- i.e. skating -- they were all right. But anyone who stopped and stood still got cold really fast. The women's washroom was full of shivering teenagers trying to shelter from the wind. Skaters had to change into their skates on an outdoor bench -- but because the rink was so packed, there were no bench spots left. Many were sitting on the cold concrete on the edge of the rink.

Presumably an aide would have been able to persuade some skaters to vacate a bench on the side of the rink, for the mayor and his wife to change into their skates -- but by the time Mayor Tory had given various media soundbites and had posed for dozens of photos with eager citizens, did he and his wife have any feeling left in their fingers, to lace up?

We can't report on this puzzle, because the CityRinks visitor got very cold too. Before the mayor and his wife got their skates on, the CityRinks visitor cycled to the Osgoode subway, got her bike onto the elevator and into the train, and had a warm ride on the TTC to Dufferin Rink. The rink clubhouse was warmer still, and filled with people catching up with their neighbours -- and eating Mary Sylwester's spicy winter soup, being sold at the rink's zamboni cafe.

Better.


New Year's Day skaters, 1.45 pm, looking from the mezzanine

warning sign at the skate rental -- the point is?

the bell chimes 2: the mayor and his wife walk over to the rink

the mayor's speech: "have a safe new year"

big crowd around the mayor: where to change into skates?

skaters sitting on the concrete, not enough benches
 
Dec.30, 2014

Press release

Mayor Tory invites Toronto residents to his January 1 skating party

Toronto Mayor John Tory and City councillors are inviting residents to join them at the Mayor's New Year's Day Skating Party on Thursday, January 1. The family-friendly event at Nathan Phillips Square will give residents an opportunity to mix and mingle with Mayor Tory and other members of City Council on the first day of 2015.

Date: Thursday, January 1, 2015. Time: 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Mayor's welcoming remarks at about 2 p.m. Location: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W.

In anticipation of a large public turnout, a space will be reserved for media to the east of the event stage for the Mayor's welcome message. Due to safety considerations, cabling will only be permitted in the area reserved for media.

Media availability: There will be a media availability with Mayor Tory to the east of the event stage immediately after his public remarks.

Holiday Hours: the city's rink information website/311 says that Nathan Phillips (City Hall) Rink will be open (with access to the changeroom/washroom) every day of the holidays including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Dec.15 2014

a popular place to skate

It's mild and overcast, but even so, there are lots of people skating. The ice is excellent.

 
Dec.7 2014

The ice is excellent now.

Nov.25 2014

At 7.30 pm the rink was unlit and empty, although there was a beautiful sheet of ice. Two staff were in the rink guard booth. One explained very politely that the ice was too soft and not thick enough, and that they needed to build it up without skaters on it. He said that if it's cold tomorrow, they can open it, but if it gets up as high as 4 degrees, it will melt again. The rink visitor explained that artificial ice rinks don't work like that. The rink guard looked exasperated and said "every rink is different." He did agree that part of the reason for building the ice up more was the upcoming "Cavalcade of lights" event on Nov.29.

After thanking him for his information, the rink visitor walked along the ice and found that it was good ice. A loudspeaker came on saying "no skating."

 
Nov.21, 2014

The rink looks in good shape, ready to open tomorrow.


smooth surface, ready to open

washroom has mats right into the stalls
 

2013-2014

Dec.23 2013

The rink reopened in the morning.

Dec.22 2013

The ice storm coated the city with ice, and City Hall rink was closed down. The city's website doesn't give a reason, but in the long lineup across the street at the Sheraton (people looking for hotel rooms because their homes were cold and dark), somebody said that the strings of Christmas lights on the arches above the rink were so heavy with ice that the staff were worried they'd drop down on the skaters. So they got everybody out of there.

Read More >>

Rink Diary 2012 - 2013

Feb.1, 2013 from skater Linda Sims

I am going to be skating at Nathan Phillips Square, and wondered whether there are lockers we can rent to hold our purses/phones/other valuables?

Feb.2, from cityrinks to Linda

Hello - there are lockers, it seems. See here: http://www.cityrinks.ca/wiki/wiki.php?n=CityHallRink.FrontPage#Diaries If you get a chance to let us know if they are accessible and what your experience was like - please do.

Feb.2, from Linda to cityrinks

Thanks for this information. I went skating and it was terrific good skates, plenty of lockers, and lots of fun!

March 8, 2013, from skater Fiona McAlister:

Your website says that the nathan phillips square rink closes for the season on March 10 but according to the city of Toronto it closes on the 15th. Normally that difference of 5 days wouldn't matter but it happens to cover March break so visitors to the city might want to know that the rink is actually opened. Your site is the one that comes up first when I google Nathan Phillips Square skating so I imagine that is true for other tourists too.

Response from cityrinks:

Thanks for pointing that out. Cityrinks.ca actually has individual pages for 56 compressor-cooled rinks plus 18 natural ice rinks. On the home page we wrote March 15, but I'll change the sub-page too.

If you look at the home page you'll see that we're the unofficial website, i.e. we're not a municipal site, we're outdoor-rink enthusiasts who want the rinks to work well. Outdoor rinks don't work at all well in March, the sun is too high already and has too much power: http://cityrinks.ca/wiki/wiki.php?n=HowToFixIt.OutdoorRinksAndWeather. Compressors are strong but the March sun is stronger :-)

Note today's "latest news" on our home page -- if the sun keeps shining during most of the day, the rinks will start to be mush by 1 pm, and will be mostly unskateable by 3. Some ice surfaces may come back for an hour or two by this evening, if they're not too rutted from people trying to skate on them.

So out-of-town visitors might want to leave their skates behind, no matter what the city's rink schedule says...

Read More >>

 

Diary 2011 - 2012, Diary 2010 - 2011, Rink Diary 2009 - 2010 Diary 2008-2009, Diary 2007-2008, Diary 2006 - 2007, Diary 2005 - 2006, Diary 2004 - 2005

Rink Capital Costs

Total cost of City Hall Rink reno was increased by $750,000.00 net of all applicable taxes ($763,200.00 net of HST recoveries), revising the current contract value from $1,935,019.00 to $2,685,019.00 net of all applicable taxes.

See here for Contract award details.

CELOS Estimate of Rink Operating Costs (2009)

posted January 07, 2009

We have gone to several disparate sources to arrive at an estimate of annual (seasonal) operating costs of Toronto's 49 outdoor rinks ("AIR's" - Artificial Ice Rinks).

Our best estimate of direct costs from these approaches is

  • maintenance staff $1.3M
  • rink guards $0.5M
  • energy $1.4M

Total direct cost estimate $3.2M (average about $65,000 per rink - 12 week season)

Read More >>

 

To see the (2007-2008) report card, click here

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Content last modified on February 20, 2015, at 06:24 PM EST