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Here's a look at the running of City Hall Rink at Nathan Phillips Square during the rink season of 2005/2006. Toronto has 47 neighborhood compressor-powered outdoor rinks (that's not counting the big outdoor rinks in central squares). The rinks range from lively meeting places for their neighborhoods to squalid hangouts for very troubled people. The rinks are also demonstration sites of the joys and troubles that beset city staff. Jutta Mason visited some rinks every day, some just occasionally.
Sunny, 8 degrees 3.40. Hard to see the ice because the rink has hundreds of skaters on it (Winterfest). Zamboni driver says the ice is fine, why wouldn’t it be? He says he’s surprised to hear other inks are closed. He thinks the ice thickness is about 1 ˝ inches; it gets done every hour and a half. I ask about safety precautions when the zamboni does the ice, with all those people standing along the edge of the rinks without barriers. He says, the rink guards are there, no problem. I see two rink guards – he says a third one is on break. Rink guard/skater ratio is about 100 people per rink guard, maybe more.
5.45. Still full of hundreds of skaters, ice fine.
9.30 p.m. Quite a few skaters, music by a d.j., the ice tent (Winterfest) is open, but the whole scene looks a bit listless. Ice looks fine.
10 p.m. There were maybe 15 pleasure-skaters on the ice, about the same as at Dufferin Rink. Plus there were six hockey players at the sidelines. Two of them told me they were just waiting for the lights to shut off, and then the nightly hockey game would begin. I asked about light. They said there’s enough from all the tall buildings around. I asked them if they ever play at Ryerson – “sure we do. Wherever there’s hockey, we play.”
It’s 4 degrees celsius and the sun was out for a while. Now it’s clouded in. 3.45 p.m. Good condition, maybe 15 people skating. The zamboni driver told me it was last done around 1.30. Then he went on with the zamboni, tried to flood it but stopped after the first round. The rest was just a scrape, but it looked a bit rough after.
1 p.m.Minus 3 celsius, with sun and cloud. Ice good. One of the Dufferin Rink on-site staff went down to learn some more, but the zamboni driver there said they’ve been told not to answer any questions from anyone who comes from Dufferin Rink.
Bright sunshine today, and 2 degrees celsius. 3.40: rink full of skaters (really full). Ice looked fine. Zamboni had just come off. The Sheraton Hotel is just to the south and that must protect the rink from some of the sun. By the afternoon it’s in full sun, though.
bright sun and a high of 2 degrees.
5:30pm, Lots of skaters. Ice in good condition.
(Sunny, high of 10 celsius.)
City Hall is open and the ice is fine, presumably because they actually got scraped. All the other City rinks are closed. The zamboni driver says he didn't want to use the zamboni on the other rinks today because it might stress the machines.
(Cloudy in the morning, then two hours of sun, then cloud again. High of 15.) 1 p.m., sunny on half the rink, shaded by hotel on the other half: ice is hard, but with a thin film of water everywhere. Skate rental is closed. About 20 skaters.