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December 17, 2008

December 17, 2008
[Actually sent by email 3.20 pm Dec.18, after receipt of the second inquiry]
Dear Ms. Mason,

Thank you for your correspondence of December 10, 2008 regarding the operation of outdoor artificial ice rinks.

As it pertains to City-wide rink operations, I am happy to discuss and respond to your concerns as I would for any interested resident. While your program comments are welcome, as we’ve discussed, matters which pertain to direction to staff, clearly rest within my role as General Manager. As you are aware, the City of Toronto operates 49 outdoor artificial ice rinks for the enjoyment of residents. We are constantly reviewing and revising our protocols and procedures to ensure the continuous improvement of operations and service to all residents. The start-up this season has gone very well, with only a few minor disruptions.

Some of the specific items you have noted in your communiqué are areas where we continue to focus improvement efforts. These include the fine-tuning of rink operations and maintenance protocols, the Rink Hotline, and internal communication between various divisional staff.

Conditions at individual rinks are impacted by very local factors which range from plant capacity and age of the infrastructure to weather conditions. Operations, equipment and staffing levels are designed to be flexible and responsive to changing local conditions. In addition to forepersons, there are 80 parks staff members dedicated to maintenance of outdoor rinks. There are 36 maintenance staff assigned to the South district. This year’s staff training program is proceeding well. There are various levels of training offered, depending on staff experience, skill, and qualifications. This year, the majority of the training sessions were scheduled at rinks other than Dufferin Grove.

In regard to equipment, over the past number of years we have been increasing our equipment inventory for the outdoor rink program. Staff is pleased with the availability and assignment of equipment and believes it is more than sufficient to support the needs program across the city. As rinks come in and out of service, for a variety of reasons, often for very short periods of time, it can be challenging for staff to keep the public informed and the Hotline up to the moment; we continue to refine this element of our program. In regard to internal communication, staff members from all branches are collaborating well in regard to the outdoor rink operation, and I am pleased with their cooperative approach to addressing any glitches and unforeseen issues.

I appreciate your interest in our outdoor rink program. I hope any coming editions of your outdoor rink report will find the opportunity to acknowledge the on-going improvements and successes of the program, along with the efforts of staff.

Brenda Patterson
General Manager
Parks, Forestry and Recreation
cc. Councillor Janet Davis, Chair, Community Development and Recreation Committee
Paul Ronan, Director, Parks

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