high 3, low -2
The usual size crowds, compounded by Friday Night date night and Friday Night supper. The ice is pretty thick already, a bit rough in places but most people seem satisfied with it. Tomorrow all the other city rinks are supposed to open and that will take some of the pressure off this one.
Sometimes, especially at the beginning of the season, the staff feel like they're babysitting -- only that the "kids" are between 10 and 16. And there are always a handful of youth who want to see how far they can go -- openly smoking weed and drinking beer, and then getting chased away and arguing: "what'd I do? what'd I do?" over and over again. It's amazingly boring for those staff and rink friends who have been around for a while.
When one of those guys comes back to visit years later, holding their own kids by the hand, the kid wearing new skates on their little feet, it all feels better. Or even when a mouthy youth from other years announces that this year he's grown up -- and proves it by being more calm and quiet.
Few and far between, so far this year, though.
high 6, low -4
Much less crowded today, since at least some of the other nearby rinks have opened.
Two of the main problem kids from last year are both working now. The staff say that last week they were flashing literally hundreds of dollars in cash and them to change a fifty for them.
Pretty crowded again, with many troubled youth. Some have been banned for a day already -- soon to be banned for longer. More and more kids playing hookey from school, or being expelled and then coming to the rink. Some of them work off their bad behaviour penalties with picking trash or doing dishes. Others seem to actually be incapable of doing any work.
From staff notes:
The rink keys were stolen tonight. Four of the usual troublemakers were getting a stick at the skate room counter, and when the lending staff left the room and the door locked behind her, she realized she didn't have the keys. She got somebody to let her back in, thinking that she had left the keys on the skate return counter. But there were no keys. She searched the whole room without success. Two of the kids watched her, and then they went away.
The staff stayed very late, padlocking various rooms with chains, so we wouldn't lose skates if the thieves came back in the night. Aargh.
The skate room was re-keyed, so that the skates are safe. The lending-staff thinks there's a very strong chance that one of the youth who were borrowing a stick took the keys. She just turned around for an instant, and that would have given the opportunity. The coordinator has asked the youth to come for a meeting, and bring their mothers.
One of the youth suspected in the loss of the keys was at the rink today. he was asked about the keys, and said it was none of his affair. He talks as though he might know who took them, but that it wasn't him and he won't say anything. The staff said that if he was there, he has to tell. He got very angry, was asked to leave, and got even angrier. He did eventually leave.
From the lead staff: Two of the four youths suspected of taking the rink keys reappeared tonight. We had talked to one of the youth on Wednesday and advised him to set up a get-together with us and management to discuss the issue, and a series of altercations that we've logged previously. Two of the four came this evening, without a pre-arranged meeting time. One of them brought his mother. We sat down to discuss the issue. At a certain point in the conversation, I suggested a follow-up meeting with the staff who were actually there at the time when the keys were taken. The mother felt that this was unfair and she became quite angry.
I said she would need to talk to management and that we would follow up with the police. At this point she asked if her kids could stay and play shinny hockey. However, the age group was 18 and over, and the two youth are not 18. The youth got even more angry at being prevented from playing, as did the mom. She wanted to talk to management immediately. I contacted the on-call supervisor, who advised me to call the police and/ or corporate security since the situation was stating to feel unsafe.
The mother called me a liar, the youth knocked over some boxes of our rink supplies, and started swearing loudly. I asked them to leave the facility, but she wanted to talk to the on-call supervisor herself. After talking for a long time to the on-call supervisor (on the phone), they left.
City of Toronto trespass policy document #1.
City of Toronto trespass policy #2.
The Forestry crews came today and took down the giant sugar maple beside the big oven, near the rink. People have been watching that tree die over the past five years -- maybe from all the compaction of the soil around the Friday Night Suppers, or maybe because many sugar maples don't seem to like the smog and the heat in a big city. Sad to see it go -- but there's wonderful firewood for the rink next year. (If the rink is still going then, and if there are staff to light the woodstove inside).
From Saturday rink coordinator:
From staff lead:
From weekday rink coordinator:
There's been lots of back and forth about the City's permission to a film company, to close the rink this morning until 2 pm, so they can make a margarine commercial. Despite lots of objections, the decision was made to let the filming go ahead.
In the end, the film shoot lasted until almost 5 p.m. Shinny players were really mad, and they said they'd be calling the city councillor to complain. But they probably won't. People rarely make their voices heard; they find it too frustrating, and nobody wants to get angry.
Film permits are free in Toronto, so the City doesn't make income off them -- but they encourage film production because it boosts jobs. The reasoning is smart (and ought to be applied to other community-building permits as well, ask the real estate people). But it makes no sense to use one of the busiest rinks in the city, displacing so many skaters -- when the city (sadly) has so many "orphan rinks" where a film company would displace very few people, filming in the daytime.
There was a big meeting about the key theft. The kids said they knew nothing about it, but after the meeting ended, the keys turned up at the front desk -- surprise!
But of course it wasn't a surprise. There had already been some hints dropped. The good news is that the City doesn't have to spend the $3600 that it would have cost to re-key the entire building with the special city keys. The bad news is that the four kids are still a big problem, and up to this point none have accepted responsibility. So now we start with the arduous meetings, separately and together, the monitoring of the community hours, etc. The standard way of treating this kind of thing is to push it under the rug. But then everybody else learns that you can get away with really bad stuff. So the kids will have to go through the steps. Maybe it will help them in the long run, who knows.
The recreation manager came to a meeting to talk about holiday hours. Most of the rinks are scheduled to be closed on Christmas Day and at shorter hours for Boxing Day and New Year's. We asked David Rothberg if we could use some of his donation to keep the rink open on some of those hours, and he said yes. The manager had to check with her boss, at 7 a.m. this morning. Then she came to the meeting and said, "it's all good" (her signature phrase). So in this neighbourhood, the kids with new skates get to try them out on Christmas Day, and nobody will have to leave the rink early on Boxing Day or New Year's. It's good.
The rink was full of school classes in the morning and kids out of school in the afternoon. The group in the photo were from Etobicoke School of the Arts -- they said that almost all the students had stayed off school today, and most of the teachers stayed away too. There was also a big group from a foreign students' language school. Many of them were first-time skaters, looking a little nervous but willing to try.
It was cold enough outside to make a fire in the woodstove. A very nice scene.
The rink was very busy today, which is a bit unusual on Christmas Eve. In this part of town, Christmas Eve is as big as Christmas Day, and people are often too busy to come skating. The Star article about David Rothberg's donation (to let the three Ward 18 rinks open on Christmas Day) may have attracted more people today. Global TV came and did a news item, too, for the 6 o'clock news.
One of the staff noticed that a kid who is currently banned from the rink is in the Star photo -- it's hard to keep track of all the people on the ice!
Today's the day the rink was meant to be closed. But thanks to David Rothberg's agreement, the doors were open from 10 in the morning until 6. It was slow at first, and then more and more people came. The mood was pretty good -- shopping is over, and there's time to enjoy semi-winter.
By early afternoon, there was a constant lineup of people wanting to borrow skates. About $380 was taken in skate donations -- at $2 a loan, and some people who didn't have money to donate, that's a lot of skates. The loans work particularly well for visitors from out of town. And -- always -- for the big groups of newcomers. Lately it's been Tibetans -- sometimes they make up a third of the pleasure-skaters. Shinny hockey, not so much.
The staff said it was painful shutting down the rink at 6 -- there were still a lot of people on the rink, clearly reluctant to give back the skates and go.
Boxing Day. The weather was nice, and from the afternoon onward the rink was very crowded until about 8 p.m. City TV came to do a story on David Rothberg's rink donation. He doesn't much like doing these interviews, but says he wants to tough it out because maybe other people will donate to keep a rink open that's currently scheduled to close on New Year's. Nobody likes this media stuff very much but it's important to remember that 15 minutes after the broadcast it will be the video equivalent of fishwrap.
Watching the cameraman was interesting for people. The reporter asked a couple of Tibetan boys to skate up to the camera, fast and close, and they did. They had to repeat the "take" at least a dozen times. They wore yellow loaner skates from the park, and they looked pretty proud -- would the Olympics be next?
Later on, they did dishes and other chores to earn some snacks. A good day all around.
From a staff report:
From staff notes:
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