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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

Latest News

posted October 20, 2016

All the outdoor rinks are still closed for the season. 35 rinks are scheduled to open on Nov.26. Another 10 are scheduled for Dec.3. There are 4 rinks marked as "delayed due to construction." 2 rinks are marked as closed for the whole upcoming rink season (Queensway and Riverdale). The city's outdoor rinks web page is here.

To read about the problems that challenge the city's outdoor rinks -- and some easy fixes -- see this CityRinks 2016 Outdoor Rinks Report. We presented it at City Hall on April 13, but the message we got from City Hall was basically "go away." More information here.

Find your outdoor rink

click for a map

List of Rinks and addresses.

Google Map of rinks and satellite map

Get Connected

What makes rinks run well? See our animation.


Dufferin Rink clubhouse: skating makes you hungry

skate loans attract new skaters

outdoor ice hockey in India

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City Skating programs

Information gathered from

For drop-in hockey and shinny times, see this schedule (shows arenas as well as outdoor rinks): drop in hockey and shinny.

For pleasure skating, see this schedule (shows arenas as well as outdoor rinks): leisure skating.

Special Programs

For women's shinny see this scheduleWomen's Shinny


Skating Lessons

Cityrinks Lists of Interest

Skate Rental.
Natural Ice Rinks.
Covered Outdoor Ice Rinks.
List of Unfenced Ice Rinks.
historical weather data

Editor's Blog by Jutta Mason

2016 -2017

Follow-up to Rink Report


March, 2016

Report submitted to the Community Development and Recreation Committee on March 23, 2016

The website

For the past thirteen years, our small charitable public space group, the Centre for Local Research into Public Space (CELOS), has run a website called It deals with Toronto’s unusually large number of compressor-cooled outdoor ice rinks (53), most of them municipally owned. More recently, our website has also documented a variable number of natural ice rinks, both community-built and on frozen water. We don’t write about indoor arenas. By now, this website is a richly-detailed archive of ice-making and skating and winter sociability in Toronto. We offer this report to share what we feel are the current challenges to the outdoor rinks, and what solutions are available. We'll start with the summary list, and then back it up with the detailed stories.

Summary list of what needs fixing:

Challenge: low attendance at many rinks

Fixes: make rinks more comfortable, have family-friendly social spaces, add snack bars, skate lending, better publicity, outreach e.g. to schools, places of worship, agencies with newcomer groups etc.

Challenge: rinks that have few public hours or are not well known in their neighbourhoods

Fixes: increase drop-in hours for rinks that are low, set up skate lending, put in direct phone lines for better communication.

Challenge: environmental, i.e. too much energy use relative to number of skaters

Fix: modify outdoor rink season to fit the sun (return all but Nathan Phillips and Greenwood rinks to mid-November/first-Sunday-in-March)

Challenge: costs

Fixes: use staff better, set up skate lending and food for income generation

Challenge: insufficient and uninteresting workload for staff

Fixes: restructure the job descriptions to be broader and more challenging, require better performance (e.g. get ice in on time at beginning of season, run more varied programming), allow staff to collaborate, acknowledge and reward successes

Challenge: central one-size-fits-all management

Fixes: experiment with modified local outdoor rinks boards of management, 50/50 decisions between staff and rink friends e.g. for timing of season, hours of operation, permits, programs. Evaluate according to user numbers

read more

November 26, 2015

The City of Toronto outdoor rink website says that 36 of the outdoor rinks will open on Nov.28. 14 others will open on Dec.5.

Both city hall (Nathan Phillips) and Harbourfront had plenty of ice already by Nov.23. That's because they started doing their night-time floods on Friday or Saturday, seven days before opening day. None of the other 35 city rinks started their ice-making before Nov.24 -- four days before the rinks were supposed to open.

In Etobicoke, there were some 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. ice-making shifts. So they already had some ice thickness on Wednesday morning. Some downtown rinks (for example, Ramsden) were just starting to put water down on Wednesday evening -- three days before opening day! -- and it looked like the staff all went home at 11pm. So on Saturday, many rinks may not be open, or if they are open, they'll have very rough ice. The blame will probably be shifted onto the weather, or even onto global warming -- not on substandard technique, which is the real problem.

Warm weather in late November has not been unusual historically -- see our almost-70-year temperature chart. Even so, for many years, the City of Toronto's municipal outdoor ice rinks successfully opened mid-November, after four days of night floods (no longer the practice). They always closed on the closest Sunday to March 1, when outdoor ice is no longer practical because the sun gets too high.

LeFrak Ice Rink in Prospect Park NYC has been open since October 31.

But whatever collective knowledge there was about ice-making in the 1990's seems to have faded out. Thursday November 26 was cloudy but the high was 15 celsius. It would have been good to have a bit more ice, and it would have been good, also, if that ice had been laid down and frozen in thin sheets instead of two or three massive floodings on Wednesday (that's what happened at many of the downtown rinks). "Many thin layers" is the standard. Pointing the hose straight down so that the water breaks up the new ice is not the standard. But that's also what happens a lot.

In the evening of Nov.26 it was still 15 degrees, but at Dufferin Rink the rink staff came around 8 pm and gave the rink a heavy flooding. So at 9 pm it was still mostly water. Meanwhile the forecast calls for lots of rain overnight and tomorrow in the daytime.

Is it possible that, after all these years of skaters trying to promote better ice-making, many of the next round of staff still somehow don't get how ice is made on compressor-cooled cement?

2012-2013 Editor's blog

2013-2014 Rinks users' blog

Media 2014-2015

Feb.10, 2016

From: CUPE Local 79 <>

Date: February 10, 2016 at 6:46:21 PM EST

To: Local 79 members

Subject: Bargaining update: Raise the stakes - Take your breaks!

Reply-To: CUPE Local 79 <>

Join us for a great skate on Family Day!

On February 15, Locals 79, 416 and 4948 are hosting skating parties at rinks across Toronto. It’s a great opportunity for you and your family to get a little ice time while showing the public our dedication and commitment to the quality public services that make Toronto a great place to live.

The skating events will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.on Monday, February 15, at the following rinks:

Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square, Scarborough Civic Centre and High Park.

There will be free hot chocolate, visits for the kids from some Minions and maybe even a Storm Trooper or two, and lots of fun.

Dec.11, 2015

CTV News: "Skating Ban to be lifted at High Park's Grenadier Pond"

Toronto City Council voted 28-9 on Thursday in favour of a program that will allow skating on a designated area of Grenadier Pond next year... Doucette proposed that the city allocate $50,000 to hire an "ice engineer" who would test the thickness and quality of the ice on a daily basis, for a period of eight weeks.

He or she would then post signs or flags to let skaters know when the ice is safe to use, and which parts of the pond are available for skating....Council voted in favour of the motion only after [Councillor] Doucette agreed to drop the funding request from $50,000 to $25,000.

Instead of hiring an engineer, city staffers will be trained to do the tests.

Weather permitting, legal skating will begin in the winter of 2016-17.

September 19, 2015, "Keep the Bureaucrats off the Pond" Chris Selley, National Post


"a one-time capital outlay of $192,000 and annual operating costs of $123,000, to cover “the services of an ice engineer and ice surveyor,” “de-naturalization of a portion of the eastern shoreline to ensure safe access,” “maintenance staff … maintain the ice surface,” yet more staff to provide first aid and keep skaters in their officially approved area, “purchase of required maintenance equipment such as a Zamboni,” “construction of a seasonal storage building,” a “safety perimeter boundary, a flag system, minor safety lighting and signage,” “seasonal washroom facilities and office space for staff.” So that people can skate on frozen water. Which they do anyway, every year it’s safe, without incident. It is beyond parody."

Chris Selley "Keep the Bureaucrats off the Ice"

Keeping rinks open longer

Feb.28, 2015

"For city hall, $200,000 for rinks is a stretch." Globe column by Marcus Gee. Some excerpts:

The city’s 2015 budget is close to $10-billion. Spending by the parks, forestry and recreation department alone stands at $437-million...

The city government has a staggering list of responsibilities. It issues 45,000 building permits a year and conducts 165,000 building inspections. Its paramedics answered 274,220 medical calls last year, while the year before its cops made 41,255 arrests. It maintains more than 4,000 emergency-shelter beds in 58 locations.

City hall is spending $162-million for new subway cars and $600-million for new buses, not to mention $1.6-billion to upgrade the Ashbridges Bay sewage plant and $88-million to build new bike paths. Its state-of-good-repair backlog – what it needs to keep everything from falling apart – stood at $3.7-billion for 2014....Within a few years, city hall forecasts it will bump up against its debt ceiling, which keeps debt-servicing costs to under 15 per cent of its tax levy....

The plain fact is that the city must either a) do fewer things for its residents, or b) ask them to pay more for what they get. On past evidence, it will opt to do c) neither, and get Tim Hortons to pay for ice rinks instead.

Comment from CityRinks: There is a fourth option: do some better housekeeping of the outdoor rinks program.

(1) Open the rinks as soon as the sun is low and people are excited about winter (mid-November).

(2) Turn the rinks into more hospitable places, so that they’ll get maximum use during the skating season. That includes keeping the change rooms and washrooms open on all the stat holidays, and having more skate rentals. Staff can move the focus from rule-enforcement to fostering people’s enjoyment of skating, of the outdoors, and of wintertime neighbourhood sociability.

(2) Then close the rinks when the sun gets too high for good ice, fuel costs go through the roof, and attendance drops off anyway (early March).

Feb.26 2015

Globe editorial "Skating rinks are an essential service."

Feb.25 2015

Globe: "Toronto moves toward making more outdoor rinks available." Excerpts:

Toronto’s parks committee has moved to address recent criticism over the city’s ice skating policies, approving two motions that aim to make more outdoor rinks available, and for longer.

On Wednesday, the committee approved a motion to create a contingency fund that would allow the city to extend its outdoor rink season in years when the weather is cold enough to do so. The committee also approved a motion that asks city staff to report back on the viability of allowing skating on Grenadier Pond in High Park.

Feb.24, 2015

Globe: "Last-minute donation needed to extend Toronto's skating season." Excerpts:

Waste management company Green For Life, which last Friday pledged $100,000 to keep additional rinks open through the March break, withdrew the offer after city staff flagged problems over the weekend. Tim Hortons stepped in Tuesday with a replacement donation, matching a $100,000 gift from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. The corporate funds will allow an additional 12 rinks to stay open for an extended season, taking the total in the city to 29. All others are now closed....

...Councillor Gord Perks said the rules on donations and sponsorship are clear and the switch could have been avoided if the sponsorship deal had been vetted by city staff before they were announced.

“In between the announcement and today, someone in the public service checked the rules and found that there was a problem with GFL,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing that members for the community want to step up and help out, but we have to make sure that we are absolutely spotless when we take that money.”

MLSE also has extensive dealings with the city, including a $10-million loan it received from the city last year for the expansion of BMO field.

Asked whether city policies were followed in securing the donations, Mr. Tory said the corporate donors approached the city and details were worked out by city staff. He agreed measures need to be taken to avoid such last-minute fixes in the future.

“I think we have to take a serious look at how many rinks we can keep open with city funds – knowing that they are not unlimited – through the school-break week,“ he said.

Feb.22, 2015:

The Star: editorial "Toronto should find money to keep its outdoor ice rinks open."

Feb.20, 2015

The Star: "Corporate donors keeping 12 rinks open"

Feb.27, 2015

The Star: "Eleven Outdoor rinks will remain open until March 16"

Grenadier Pond

February 18, 2015

The Star -- Councillor Sarah Doucette will ask staff for a report

January 25, 2015

The Star - a story about writer Richard Sanger's yearly adventures on Grenadier Pond

January 26, 2015

CBC story and poll about skating on the pond.

January 27, 2015

680 news story

Torontoist story

January 29, 2015

National Post editorial about skating on Grenadier Pond

"Get out there and skate" by Peter Kuitenbrouwer.

Star editorial about skating and tobogganing

Rules for a community rink

What is shinny hockey? A little film clip from Campbell Rink.

Our rinks are community rinks. All members of the community are welcome to skate, play hockey, or meet their friends here. Rink staff would be pleased to answer any questions you may have about the programs and policies.

Please observe the following rules so that everyone can enjoy the rink:

  • Respect programs and permit times in designated areas.
  • Do not use hockey sticks or pucks on the pleasure skating side.
  • Leave the ice surface or any other rink area when asked to do so by staff.
  • Put garbage in cans, not on the floor.
  • Do not smoke in the rink house or on the ice.
  • Be considerate of noise levels.
  • Do not use foul, offensive or racist language.
  • Do not fight or play roughly inside the building or on the rink surface.
  • Do not damage anything.

In case of a serious disagreement between rink staff and a rink user about any of these rules, the staff may ask the rink user to leave the rink until the matter is discussed with the Recreation Supervisor. If the rink user refuses the staff's request to leave the rink, a letter of trespass may result.

Ice Allocation Policy and Permits

posted November 12, 2013

City of Toronto website links



Helmets have lost some of their luster in both the medical and the sports media. It turns out that they have some important limitations in preventing concussions -- which is really their main purpose, as far as many skaters are concerned. The City of Toronto has hung on to its 9-year-old mandatory helmet policy, requiring all shinny hockey player to put on head armour. Little kids under 6 are also required to wear ONLY CSA-certified hockey helmets -- for pleasure-skating. Hockey helmets are designed to absorb impacts from pucks, sticks, and body-checking.

CELOS, the Centre for Local Research into Public Space (the sponsor of this website) has ollected quite a bit of material on all sides of the helmet question. Opinion

A Rink Safety Story

The approach of mandating hockey helmets for little kids effectively blocks families from using the rinks if they don't want to buy another set of helmets in addition to the bike (or trike!) helmets most kids already have.

Read this rink user's story

The Data

Noncompliance by shinny hockey players continues to rise citywide. The city's inability to enforce its own policy should be a flag to rinks management.

Data collected by Rule-Makers

Data collected by CELOS

Helmet Rules Across Canada

PFR Management

It's time to revisit the helmet rules, but with a different procedure than the last time. Instead of a staff decision made at a closed meeting at City Hall, the city should welcome wide-ranging rink-user input. Read our latest letter from Kelvin Seow, City Manager for PFR, and the latest letters to and from Jim Hart, General Manager for the PFR, City of Toronto.

Click on correspondence for everything we've received from city management through the years.

Problems with the City's Helmet Policy


City Rinks Special Edition on Helmets

Read the Special Helmets Issue and its References as published January 9th, 2014


"Restore CSA"

A Calgary group called RestoreCSA and their claim that the CSA’s monopoly on hockey helmet certification in Canada "appears to be in violation of multiple sections of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)"

On November 28th, the Federal Industry Minister, James Moore, made a declaration to Parliament that materials developed by the CSA and incorporated into provincial laws are merely "voluntary standards" whose character as independent of the law is unchanged by inclusion within the law. As noted previously, this action invalidates as a legal requirement all inclusions within law as furnished by CSA or other commercial entities." 178 specific CSA standards included within a wide variety of Federal laws.

Z262.1 is the identifier for the CSA standard for Ice Hockey Helmets.

Additional Web links


Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled rinks than any city in the world - 52. But our civic knowledge of the physics of ice maintenance hasn't kept pace with our collective rink wealth. Many people seem to find it amazing, even shocking, that outdoor rinks can be skateable when the air temperature is above freezing, as high as 11 or even 15 - during the low-sun months.

What's the surprise? Collectively, as taxpayers, we spend about $500 a day at each rink to fuel the compressors that cool the rink pad. The rink compressors vary between 100 and 200 horsepower each. You can hear their noise through the compressor-room doors at the sides of the buildings. These compressors push a brine (salt water) solution through a big tank of cooling ammonia, and then out into the extensive grid of PVC pipes underneath the concrete floor of the rink. The cold liquid brings the entire big concrete slab to well below freezing, so any water that's put on the surface of the rink pads sets up as ice right away. The brine liquid in the pipe grid circulates back into a large pipe in the "header trench" right next to the building, underneath where everybody stands when the zamboni is doing ice maintenance. From there the brine gets pushed back into the compressor room, where it passes through the freezing-cold ammonia tank, and out again into the pipes under the concrete, and so on.

The only serious match for this powerful cooling system is the sun. In the months on either side of the December 21 winter solstice, the sun is very weak. It doesn't get to spend very much time above the horizon, and that suits the compressors just fine. By March, though, the sun is getting much higher in the sky, and the compressors labour to keep the ice frozen at minus 4.

Even on a sunny day at the end of February, when the air temperature is minus 8, the ice gets really mushy near the reflective boards, and a bit soft in the middle. The compressors are losing ground as the sun prepares to bring on spring and summer. But on a low-sun Monday in November at 11 degrees, a thin film of water forms on top of solid ice, and the shinny hockey and pleasure-skating are brilliant.

It's not only rink users whose rink literacy is in some need of upgrading. The city's rink staff are also confused. In our travels around the city's outdoor rinks, we have heard some zamboni drivers say in low-sun November that they can't make ice because the temperature is above zero. Over the years, the city's Parks management has blamed a multitude of ice-making sins on the temperature, global warming, etc. Convenient - but most of the time, not true. The compressor-cooled rinks can do their job, and having all those rinks can take some of the sting out of the dark months of winter for Torontonians. But if the zamboni staff tell you that their zamboni sinks into the mush in early March, you'd better believe them -- or just take a look yourself.

Ice Maintenance

Unfenced rinks

Holiday Rinks

Rink ice conditions information

Rink-related injury claims against the City of Toronto, 2010 to 2014


Many of Toronto's 52 compressor-cooled municipal outdoor rinks are bare-bones sports facilities, but some are also important wintertime social spaces for their neighbourhoods. People expect to meet acquaintances there, to chat and catch up on news as well as skating together. Double-pad rinks are more likely to have this function, since pleasure-skating is anytime there, not only in restricted time slots. A few single-pad rinks have also become social spaces, either because of a particular location in a neighbourhood or because of programs (such as a weekly community supper) that maximize the friendship possibilities of the rink.

Double-pad rinks that are also neighbourhood social spaces (to widely varying degrees): Rennie, High Park, Dufferin, Wallace, Harry Gairey, Otter Creek, North Toronto Memorial, Hodgson, Ramsden, Dieppe, Greenwood.

Single-pad rinks that are also social spaces: Buttonwood, Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail, Valleyfield, Wedgewood, Ledbury, Campbell, Cedarvale, Christie Pits, Kew Gardens, Withrow.

Harbourfront's Natrel Rink (not municipal) is both an entertainment venue and a social space where friends often arrange to meet.

The wintertime social meeting-up function of rinks needs to be better recognized, and fostered, than it is at present.

The City of Toronto is almost always behind Harbourfront in getting the rinks open. Here's why:

The science is there, the history is there (pre-amalgamation), professionals say it can be done, Harbourfront is doing it, even volunteers have done it. This list supplies the fundamentals of ice making.

Questions or Comments?

Contact at to :
  • Ask General questions:
  • Share Rink stories or pictures
  • Report Problems at any of the rinks
  • Contact the editor
  • Discuss Technical website issues
  • Find detailed rink information including schedules at City Rink Details
Contact the City of Toronto
  • For individual rink schedules: dial 3-1-1
  • The City's rink hotline 416-338-RINK (7465) is no longer in service
  • A few rinks have a direct line. Go to the individual rink profile through the Quick Links.
  • For permit phone numbers see "Contacts to get Permits" in the Rules & Permits tab
  • City website for Skating & Rinks

Pond hockey as it's always been played: no helmets, no body armour, no checking, no slapshots - just the joy of the game

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Content last modified on January 09, 2016, at 09:59 PM EST