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Community Development and Recreation Committee Meeting July 11, 2018

There were two deputants in favour of skate lending: Ismail Afrah, Access to Recreation and Hani Afrah, Access to Recreation.

The skate lending discussion portion of the video recording is here, 12.05 to 38.49.

PFR General Manager: The only skate rental that we have right now in the community is here at Nathan Phillis Square. That's been the standard for many years, and also at Dufferin Grove Park, which started from a group that was involved at Dufferin Grove Park...We did have a hundred pairs of skates donated in the Regent Park area last year, and we are putting them together as a pop-up opportunity where they can sort of rotate to a number of rinks for that lending opportunity, and happy to work with this group around when the right time would be to have them come to Regent rink.

'Councillor Michael Ford asks if the rental program are popular.

PFR General Manager: The Dufferin Grove program is much smaller [than City Hall], I couldn't really speak to the numbers, I think it's well-utilized...I think the report that you have before you indicates that it's not the sort of standard that we have nor are we funded for, and it certainly isn't something that we have in our strategy for extending. There's approximately 51 outdoor rinks as well as many many indoor rinks so it would be a fairly significant standard to be able to offer right across the city with a fairly expensive price tag.

Councillor Michael Ford: what about just Neighbourhood Improvement Areas?

PFR General Manager: I mean, there is a difference between skate rentals and skate lending..I should note that in those areas, all of our programs are free, so it would be contrary to council policy to have free skating lessons while then charging skate rental fees for the skates themselves, so what we're pursuing is the skate lending opportunity we have with these skates that have been donated, as a way to provide skates in areas of the city as needed so that there is not a fee attached to them. But other than that, skate rental itself could be a barrier from a financial perspective.

Councillor Michael Ford: Right. But lending is still on the table.

PFR General Manager: To be clear, we have a donation currently of a 100 skates that we're using as an opportunity to rotate around various rinks, as noted by the deputant they've been to Regent Park a few times, we're work with a number of community groups around where they should go, and we're happy to continue supporting that program.

Councillor Michael Ford: you'll work with community groups to do that. Is there a significant cost to the city to do this?

PFR General Manager: I'm going to ask Howie to answer that

Recreation Director Howie Dayton: For skate rental, similar to the current model we've got at the Dufferin Grove site there's a cost of approximately about a seven to eight thousand dollar subsidy a season from the city, because it's more a pay-what-you-can model, so to provide the staff, the infrastructure, the skates, the skate sharpening and all of the supports that go behind it, there's a net cost to the city.

(Ed.note: Mr.Dayton had not done his homework. His cost estimate was wrong. The real cost of skate lending at Dufferin Rink is here.

Councillor Wong-Tam: a hundred pairs of skates rotating around different rinks doesn't seem like a lot, and also not understanding what type of sizes, and what age, for children and youth, whether they fit girls and boys, are they getting equal time on the ice, can you tell me why we are not investing more, in a program that's more sustainable, that has far more city supports around it. There are three million people in the city.

PFR General Manager: it isn’t a program that we’ve ever been funded for so from a perspective of moving forward looking for additional services funding it hasn’t been an area that we’ve looked in. There are a number of opportunities in the city with various groups who support skate lending, funding for equipment…there’s a whole sort of array of groups. If we were to consider it, we would certainly put a budget request forward, but given the pressures that we’re under from an operating budget perspective, I’m not sure this is one that would be our first priority. All of the skating programs in these areas, I’m not sure there are any fees attached to that, there’s skate lesson programs that are also free, and I think we do our best in these areas to connect families with agencies that would be able to provide skates. I should say that we offer a number of different types of activities and sports across the city and have never ventured into providing the equipment for each one of those – such as soccer, hockey is another one, football – it’s just something that we haven’t been able to accommodate.

Councillor Wong-Tam: what about the rink at Barbara Ann Scott – be a way to use the rink house where the zamboni is kept. Would it be beneficial at that rink to actually build on a skate rental program especially because there are a lot of transient visitors coming through there?

PFR General Manager: I know that we are working closely with the BIA at that particular location, so if there’s an opportunity to offer that type of service through some sort of external provider on a rental basis, which is how it’s done at Nathan Phillips Square, I think we’re certainly willing to look into possibilities.

Councillor Wong-Tam: what about communities that don’t have a BIA, that may not have the larger corporate sponsors, what do those poorer communities do?

PFR General Manager: Just like participation in anything, they would have to look at either skate lending or skate exchanges or elsewhere, or in come cases as the deputant mentioned, they might not be able to have skates to participate in the program.

Councillor Wong-Tam: ....what programs are there for communities that are in desperate need for recreation?

PFR General Manager: If it’s council’s priority to make skates available and provide costs and all that, it’s certainly something that council could consider for next year’s budget….[some words missing]

Chair of CDRC (Councillor Pasternak): I don’t think we should terminate the discussion here at this meeting, I think we should forward this to council without recommendation. That’s the motion, it will hopefully have your support....

Councillor Michael Ford: ...I welcome Chair Councillor Pasternaks’ motion to go to city council to continue the conversations around this.

Chair of CDRC (Councillor Pasternak): We had a very wonderful experience at Irv Chapley outdoor rink. We had a one-day lending program on a beautiful January day maybe a couple of years ago, extremely popular. The name of the group escapes me but they brought dozens of skates, a great crowd there enjoying the use of the skates and the use of the rink. [Goes on to suggest a skate mobile like a book mobile.]

End of discussion. The motion to send the item to city council without recommendation was carried. Council's decision is here.

Note: The general manager's report for consideration at this meeting was cursory and did not suggest that PFR is taking steps to make skate rental possible. The report is here.

Jutta Mason, CELOS, sent a letter about the skate lending portion of the general manager's report: skate lending

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Content last modified on December 29, 2018, at 06:23 PM EST