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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

Built in 1968
Two 75 hp compressors, Total hp 150. Recirculation pump #1: 40 hp, #2: 40 hp, brine
Current refrigeration system and floor installed in 1991. Contract for replacement awarded in October 2016

Opened: Nov.26, 2016
Closing: TBA

Rink change area: Outside benches, but not enough, plus a very small indoor change room with lockers.

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

 

2016 - 2017

In October 2016, the city awarded a contract for Replacement Of Refrigeration Plant, Pool Piping & Upgrades to Aplus General Contractors Corporation, for $4,240,000 (not including HST).

Dec.2, 2016

The rink has been listed as open every day since its scheduled opening on Nov.26. This website gets a fair number of inquiries for a phone number for skate lending. The company that runs the skate lending is private, not city-owned. They list this number 1-647-380-1921.


 

Rink diaries from earlier years:

2015 - 2016

March 19, 2016

From skater Nicole Fritz: "The ice was pretty gouged, but what a beautiful day to have our last skate of the season!"


skating at city hall, March 19. Photo: Nicole Fritz

detail: even stormtroopers like to skate
 
March 12, 2016

At 11.30 on a mild and sunny Saturday morning, the rink is holding up well, and it looks like before too long the sun will disappear behind the hotel, so that it won't be able to lick at the ice so directly anymore. Even though the ice is good, there are only 8 skaters on the rink. There are 4 rink guards chatting at the side, making a ratio of 2 skaters per rink guard. There's another city staff person inside the office. On a day of uncertainty about ice conditions, it would certainly be possible to spare one staff person to answer a direct phone line -- if there was one -- and let a few more prospective skaters know how the ice is.


ONE of these staff could answer the phone: "how's the ice?"

fake wheelchair button still in place

The fake automatic door opener is still in place at the public washrooms -- a picture of a wheelchair, but it's not connected to a mechanism. The meeting at which we told rink management about this problem -- which they were shocked to hear about, and said they would follow up right away -- was on February 3rd.

 
March 9, 2016

March 9, 2016

The rink has been watery all week but a few people still come to skate, and at 8.15 pm the skate lending is open. For a change, there is actually a customer at the Heros Burger food counter, although they seem to be chatting -- maybe a friend has come by to help the time pass more agreeably. There are two rink guards standing at the side. The usual radio station is on. The ice looks quite thick at the sides, with a layer of water. There are 8 skaters on the ice, two more sitting on the side.

 
Feb.3, 2016

The ice has some water overtop in patches, but people seem to have a fine time skating on it.


City Hall, 11.30 a.m. Feb.3, 13 degrees
 
January 16, 2016

Saturday morning: The washroom has been fixed, hurray. The rink has four green skate aids, which are being used by kids and their parents, with obvious enjoyment. The radio station booming out over the rink sound system is on a talk show, interspersed with commercials. Outside and inside the washrooms, there are fake disability buttons, just little screwed-on plastic plates. Eventually the real, operating mechanism will probably come, but when?


the wheelchair button by the washrooms is a fake -- just a picture

fake disability button inside the washroom too -- a wave won't help
 
January 12, 2016

At 1 pm, both, the website and 311 say all Toronto/EY rinks are closed, including this one, but that's unlikely. Harbourfront shows happy skaters on their webcam, and Dufferin Rink has been open since 9 a.m., according to their staff.

January 4, 2016, email from Haroon Qureshi, to City Councillor Kristin Wong-Tam

I have been attending the city hall rink shinny games regularly for the previous 5 winters. We have over 20 people out on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

I my self travel from Etobicoke to play shinny here, 45% of the crowd drives in from either Richmond hill, Markham and Scarborough.

Over the last 4 years the lights have always been on. There are 3 over head arches directly over the rink, this has lights and also holds those ornaments. These are the lights that stay on all night.

Now since the rink was closed for that one day due to warm weather the lights have been switched off regularly after 10.

This is an inconvenience as we choose to play hockey instead of indulge in drugs, alcohol, and other non safe activities. Not to mention unsafe due to the popularity of the location as well as the brand it reflects on the city it self.

I hope we can get these turned back on as I have called 311 the last 2 weekends and they have acted oblivious.

Not sure if this is result of budget cuts but this should be a non-issue here.

From Josh Smart (Facebook post): "I have been playing at city hall after 10pm for 20 years. I have seen many different attitudes to the game there. There was a time in the early 2000's when every single light that could've turned off was , including the spotlights on the top of city hall... One thing that has remained the same though... Is the inability to get any real answers about why these things are happening."

Dec.31, 2015

Nathan Phillips Square New Year's Eve dancing and skating.

Dec.25 2015

At 10 a.m.: City Hall rink is open.


happy skaters on Christmas Day

but identical washroom danger tape is still there, 20 days later!
 
Dec.5 2015

The Toronto sign is the new sitting place...

...otherwise people may change into skates on the ground

There's always a lineup for the skate rental...

...but not for the food -- there's nowhere to sit and eat.

The disabled button at the washroom door doesn't work...

...but a plugged toilet gets a lot of attention.
 
November 28, 2015

The rink opened on time and with very good ice. In fact, skaters reported that they had been skating (and playing shinny) at night for several days already. This is despite daytime temperatures of 15 celsius, and on Wednesday overnight, the same.

November 23, 2015, 2 pm

The rink is not supposed to open until 5 days from now but it has lots of ice -- more than in some other years on opening day. The rink staff were just putting the zamboni away -- obviously they've been using it already.


ice already thick

official opening sign in office window

bits of trash frozen into the ice

still installing Christmas lights

zamboni already in use

fandom
 

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

2016 - 2017

In October 2016, the city awarded a contract for Replacement Of Refrigeration Plant, Pool Piping & Upgrades to Aplus General Contractors Corporation, for $4,240,000 (not including HST).

Dec.2, 2016

The rink has been listed as open every day since its scheduled opening on Nov.26. This website gets a fair number of inquiries for a phone number for skate lending. The company that runs the skate lending is private, not city-owned. They list this number 1-647-380-1921.


 

Rink diaries from earlier years:

2015 - 2016

March 19, 2016

From skater Nicole Fritz: "The ice was pretty gouged, but what a beautiful day to have our last skate of the season!"


skating at city hall, March 19. Photo: Nicole Fritz

detail: even stormtroopers like to skate
 
March 12, 2016

At 11.30 on a mild and sunny Saturday morning, the rink is holding up well, and it looks like before too long the sun will disappear behind the hotel, so that it won't be able to lick at the ice so directly anymore. Even though the ice is good, there are only 8 skaters on the rink. There are 4 rink guards chatting at the side, making a ratio of 2 skaters per rink guard. There's another city staff person inside the office. On a day of uncertainty about ice conditions, it would certainly be possible to spare one staff person to answer a direct phone line -- if there was one -- and let a few more prospective skaters know how the ice is.


ONE of these staff could answer the phone: "how's the ice?"

fake wheelchair button still in place

The fake automatic door opener is still in place at the public washrooms -- a picture of a wheelchair, but it's not connected to a mechanism. The meeting at which we told rink management about this problem -- which they were shocked to hear about, and said they would follow up right away -- was on February 3rd.

 
March 9, 2016

March 9, 2016

The rink has been watery all week but a few people still come to skate, and at 8.15 pm the skate lending is open. For a change, there is actually a customer at the Heros Burger food counter, although they seem to be chatting -- maybe a friend has come by to help the time pass more agreeably. There are two rink guards standing at the side. The usual radio station is on. The ice looks quite thick at the sides, with a layer of water. There are 8 skaters on the ice, two more sitting on the side.

 
Feb.3, 2016

The ice has some water overtop in patches, but people seem to have a fine time skating on it.


City Hall, 11.30 a.m. Feb.3, 13 degrees
 
January 16, 2016

Saturday morning: The washroom has been fixed, hurray. The rink has four green skate aids, which are being used by kids and their parents, with obvious enjoyment. The radio station booming out over the rink sound system is on a talk show, interspersed with commercials. Outside and inside the washrooms, there are fake disability buttons, just little screwed-on plastic plates. Eventually the real, operating mechanism will probably come, but when?


the wheelchair button by the washrooms is a fake -- just a picture

fake disability button inside the washroom too -- a wave won't help
 
January 12, 2016

At 1 pm, both, the website and 311 say all Toronto/EY rinks are closed, including this one, but that's unlikely. Harbourfront shows happy skaters on their webcam, and Dufferin Rink has been open since 9 a.m., according to their staff.

January 4, 2016, email from Haroon Qureshi, to City Councillor Kristin Wong-Tam

I have been attending the city hall rink shinny games regularly for the previous 5 winters. We have over 20 people out on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

I my self travel from Etobicoke to play shinny here, 45% of the crowd drives in from either Richmond hill, Markham and Scarborough.

Over the last 4 years the lights have always been on. There are 3 over head arches directly over the rink, this has lights and also holds those ornaments. These are the lights that stay on all night.

Now since the rink was closed for that one day due to warm weather the lights have been switched off regularly after 10.

This is an inconvenience as we choose to play hockey instead of indulge in drugs, alcohol, and other non safe activities. Not to mention unsafe due to the popularity of the location as well as the brand it reflects on the city it self.

I hope we can get these turned back on as I have called 311 the last 2 weekends and they have acted oblivious.

Not sure if this is result of budget cuts but this should be a non-issue here.

From Josh Smart (Facebook post): "I have been playing at city hall after 10pm for 20 years. I have seen many different attitudes to the game there. There was a time in the early 2000's when every single light that could've turned off was , including the spotlights on the top of city hall... One thing that has remained the same though... Is the inability to get any real answers about why these things are happening."

Dec.31, 2015

Nathan Phillips Square New Year's Eve dancing and skating.

Dec.25 2015

At 10 a.m.: City Hall rink is open.


happy skaters on Christmas Day

but identical washroom danger tape is still there, 20 days later!
 
Dec.5 2015

The Toronto sign is the new sitting place...

...otherwise people may change into skates on the ground

There's always a lineup for the skate rental...

...but not for the food -- there's nowhere to sit and eat.

The disabled button at the washroom door doesn't work...

...but a plugged toilet gets a lot of attention.
 
November 28, 2015

The rink opened on time and with very good ice. In fact, skaters reported that they had been skating (and playing shinny) at night for several days already. This is despite daytime temperatures of 15 celsius, and on Wednesday overnight, the same.

November 23, 2015, 2 pm

The rink is not supposed to open until 5 days from now but it has lots of ice -- more than in some other years on opening day. The rink staff were just putting the zamboni away -- obviously they've been using it already.


ice already thick

official opening sign in office window

bits of trash frozen into the ice

still installing Christmas lights

zamboni already in use

fandom
 

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...

 

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)

 

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

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Content last modified on December 03, 2016, at 02:44 PM EST