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By Jutta Mason, about a meeting with city management staff about the Regent Rink skate lending proposal:
Two of us (prospective donour David Rothberg and I) met with Matt Cutler, Manager of Public Relations and Issues Management and also in charge of Partnerships, and Trena Cesario, Business Development Officer. She took notes.
Matt said that staff are "aware that rinks are underused," but the problem is that skate lending is not part of the "core functions" that have been approved by City Council for Parks, Forestry and Recreation. He said that for that reason, skate lending would be much easier to introduce if it was done by a group like Daniels Corp or Friends of Regent Park.
I said that many on-site rink staff are underemployed and have enough time to do skate-lending, so that at Regent Rink, staff could easily be lending out skates for the holidays that begin on Dec.22. It could be an experiment, to see how such a program will work at a fourth neighbourhood rink. If staff lend the skates, the program would be available during most of the rink open hours when staff are in the rink building.
Matt said there may be objections by Health and Safety that the staff should not be busy with other activities (like skate-lending) in case a problem comes up and they are too preoccupied to deal with it.
There was no discussion of whether -- if skate lending is not a legitimate staff activity -- the existing skate lending program should be shut down at the three Ward 18 rinks, for consistency.
Matt said that it would not be possible to charge $2 for skate rental because Regent Rink is in a designated Neighbourhood Improvement Area. That means the city can charge no fees for any recreation program and therefore a city-run skate lending program cannot be sustained through even small fees. However, outside partners can charge fees.
Matt said that since it's Friday afternoon, there won't be much chance for him to consult his colleagues over the weekend, but that he would get back to us after discussion on Monday.
Note: In the 2017 PFR Operating Budget Analyst Notes, there is no mention of core functions but there is a list of eight "Purpose Statements" on page 7. Five of them could readily be seen as supporting skate lending.