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CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION
The natural ice rink worked well for some weeks, thanks to the efforts of Ian Merringer especially -- now that time is over and the grass is returning where the ice was.
There have been a few good days for skating but today the sun shone and Ian sent out a message:
From Ian: "Credit for those great 'Rink Closed' signs goes to Kurt Swinghammer. Eight 2'x4' hand-painted signs done the same day I dropped off the plywood. They will come in handy this week (though a few people Tuesday had trouble getting the gist of them)."
A warm-ish spell, 3 celsius, plus rain today. Signs at all corners of the rink, put up by Ian. The forecast is dicey -- rain mixed with snow, then 5 cm snow, then very cold. Will the whole city now turn into an ice rink? Will the snow be fused to the softened ice and make it permanently bumpy?
Hopefully not. People have been skating on this rink so much, late into the evening. The big expanse of snow is lighting up the ice even without rink floodlights.
A visit from a zamboni might be nice, in a day or two....
Message from Ian Merringer, 6.51 p.m., after the blizzard:
Calling all skaters, shinny players, curlers and Dufferin Grove do-gooders: Your skating rink needs you.
The rink should be ready for this weekend. But we have a few feet of snow to remove. We will need 20-30 neighbourhood volunteers with 20 minutes to spare (many hands make light work, etc). Please bring your own shovel and defibrillator.
Please come (or send a kid) to the park after dinner at 8pm tonight and we can throw some snow.
The good news is we got full ice coverage last night so will be shovelling ice, not turf.
From Ian, 10.55 p.m.: 20-25 people, young and old moved 6,000 cubic feet of snow in an hour.
After a slow start the city is now allowing local volunteers to help with the flooding of the natural ice rink taking shape in Dufferin Grove. It will take a number of days for a slab to take shape. Please be patient, and refrain from skating on the rink if it has been recently flooded (or if it is a warm day, which shouldn't be a problem for the next two weeks). We will post signs (when we make them) and make an announcement here and on Facebook when it's ready for skating.
The city has given us a key to the field house and said have at it.
They actually put in quite a system, with two huge tanks and a pump to feed a two-inch hose (pressure was insufficient before). Why they weren’t making good use of it is another question.
We will start flooding tomorrow.
From Ian Merringer: Flooding of the rink area has started. I was by Tuesday morning and there was an unattended hose emptying out into the lower end of the rink area. Half of the hose was buried in the new soft ice but it came out when pulled (another section of hose was frozen fast in one of the patches of ice that had formed outside the boards where the water was leaking out downhill).
Trying to flood with a loose hose will take a while, since the water thaws the ground and the water seeps in. It will also take some time to build up the ice if they are hoping it will spread from the low corner. It really needs a person on the end of a hose with a spray nozzle (or at least a sprinkler). I will email the counsellor’s office again, but given that they didn’t reply last time I’m guessing they want me to mind my own business. Except for tomorrow the forecast looks pretty good for the next two weeks.
From: Michael Jacoby <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Volunteers for Dufferin Grove natural ice rink
Date: January 11, 2022 at 4:34:55 PM EST|
To: 'Ian Merringer' <[email protected]>, Councillor Bailao <[email protected]>
Cc: Michael Giles <[email protected]>, Nicholas Gallant <[email protected]>, Lucas Granger <[email protected]>, Marco Dezi <[email protected]>
Good afternoon Ian,
I have reached out to the Parks lead and will advise as to your interest in coordinating volunteers to help support the natural ice rink.
From Ian Merringer: I emailed Nick Gallant in Ana’s office about the rink, asking if they planned to have shinny hours, and asking if they could put me in touch with someone in the parks dept who is involved with it. No reply.
Friday I was by the rink and they hadn’t yet sprayed a drop on it. Someone on Facebook just said it looks ready to go, but either it’s a very thin layer of ice, not helped by the weather today, or else the person saw the boards and got overly excited.
City staff were marking out the dimensions of the temporary natural ice rink, to the east of the field house.
Rink diaries from earlier years
COVID-RELATED RESTRICTIONS: To find out how to book a skating time, go to the city's outdoor rinks web page.
All shinny hockey has been removed except for Greenwood (and only children and youth are allowed there). The city's opening rules are described here and our rinks blog is here.
At 10.40 a.m. Dufferin Rink had skaters (almost all parents with kids) on both pads (the two pads are separated, gate not open). Masking was again the default (skaters' choice), and again the playground had no masks.
The rink opened for the season at 10 a.m. At 11.30 a.m., there were skaters on both pads -- not yet 25 on each. They looked like all kids-and-parents and were 100% masked. Meantime, the Dufferin Grove playground was full of kids and parents as well, and they were 100% NOT masked. Different cultures, for now.
Ice-making is ongoing and it looks good.
After much effort by Ian Merringer, Mary Wood, Abi, and Don, plus some help from Lori, the general manager of Parks and Rec reversed her position and said that the Dufferin Rink demolition won't begin until after this winter's rink season.
The contract for the rink redesign has been approved.
The contract for the rink reno has just come up on the city's Bid Award Panel agenda for next Weds. Oct.14. The staff are recommending Frank Pellegrino General Contracting -- it's the lowest bidder at $6.4 million, of which $2.3 million is for demolition and rebuilding/reorienting of the rink pad (contract finishes Dec.31, 2021) and $4.1 million is for the renovating of the rink house (contract finishes June 20, 2022).
(The original budget was for $4.5 million.)
$200,000 is assigned to 2020, starting from Oct.14, but only involving the rink building (including presumably the removal of the cooling equipment). But it looks like until Oct.14, the city has no contract for the rink project, and no penalty for postponement.
There has been correspondence on a local listserv that since the rink demolition was postponed for so long (covid), some skaters would like the city to run the current rink for one more season and not demolish it until March. The thread was started by shinny player Ian Merringer. Read more
Rink diaries from earlier years
At the end of this rink season Dufferin Rink will be closed for an unspecified time for reconstruction. There has been a great deal of community discussion about this project -- our record is here.
At 4.45 p.m. there were 18 shinny players on the rink (youth: 12 -15 time slot). None of them were wearing helmets. The rink guard said it's not her job to require people to wear helmets.
Announcement on the local listserv, from a neighbour who really likes the Friday Night Suppers:
Hi Neighbours, It's the most wonderful night of the weeeeeeek:
Friday Night Suppers at Dufferin Grove (winter edition) are back!
They started last Friday and run until March 20, 5:30 to 7 pm.
Sausages, scalloped potatoes & salad.
Veg option available.
Vegan soups available.
Skating is optional (but always fun!)
5 staff at the rink at 5 p.m. -- rain just starting.
Art 9 a.m.the temperature was -14C. One of the staff lit the woodstove and kept it burning all day. First time for using the woodstove this year.
There seems to be a shortage of trained bakers, so skate sharpening was replaced by bread baking, otherwise the dough would have had to be thrown out.
There's also only one staff person who knows how to sharpen skates. On days that are not busy, staff sit and chat a lot -- mostly with each other, not so much with skaters.
At 8 p.m., there were 21 shinny players having a game. 9 or them were wearing helmets, the rest not.
Good news: the east lift gate has been repaired. Newsletter signs are still up. Bad news: The lockers that were modified from coin-op to needing private combination locks are still not being used. Two welders worked on the conversion for about a day -- a waste of money. Why would people who are renting skates come with their own combination lock?
At 8.30 p.m., despite the mandatory helmets policy, there were 18 skaters on the shinny ice and only 2 were wearing helmets. The outside newsletter posters had been cut down, but none of the 5 staff who were indoors knew who might have done that. New posters were put up. Several staff said they would make sure no January park newsletters are thrown in the trash in future. The newsletters contain some rink-related news items.
A zamboni operator tried to get the east lift gate up but it got stuck. The mystifying caution tape at the fence has been removed.
City management has a remedy to solve the crowding here at Dufferin Rink: enforcing the city’s helmets-for-shinny-hockey rule for any age. The new rink coordinator at Dufferin Rink has said that this is the season rink staff will apply the rule at Dufferin Grove “to have consistency.”
From rinks supervisor Donna Densmore: "Parks staff are waiting for a lift truck to inspect the gate. Unfortunately one is not available at this time."
Caution tape has been put up along the hockey fence, perhaps because of the bit of ice that extends beyond the boards into the walkway. This used to be no problem because the benches were put along the boards at the beginning of the season and they just froze into the ice and no one tripped. No one trips anyway, although since the benches are now placed on the other side of the walkway, it gets narrower and harder to get by when it's crowded.
Might the caution tape be a little suggestion to rink users that the rink really is dangerous and needs to be demolished....?
The lift gate signs (for who to call to get it fixed) have been removed.
Tech Services staff came to inspect the gate at Dufferin Grove AIR, to see if it is possible to repair. But they did not have access to a broom truck to inspect the gate, so they went away.
The east lift gate that allows Sunday pleasure-skating in the round is broken. It won’t lift up, so Sunday skating is not a round anymore, but rather a squashed figure of eight with a bottleneck in the middle. Apparently the gate stopped working at the end of last season and someone told the rink staff it couldn’t be fixed. So if any skaters asked, the staff said that they were sorry, the city had done its best but nothing could be done.
But when the same problem came up in 2013, rink users complained and CELOS sent in a group photo of skaters posed in front of the lift gate.
Today we put up the same photo and a sign at the rink:
The east lift gate needs fixing.
This rink will be closed for construction next season and maybe the season after.\\ If you want to write to the rink supervisor and ask Parks&Rec to “fix the east lift gate at Dufferin Rink, please do not spoil the Sundays of the last season before construction”: [email protected]
or you can call 311
The rink house is cluttered with little separate tables with table cloths, mostly askew. This is a rink not a restaurant! There should be one communal table for people who want to have some soup, and the rest should be for the skaters.
The rink compressors have been turned on, one can see from the steam above the roof and hear the motors. The rink looks cleaner than it's been many a year -- two days ago (on Saturday) a city street sweeper truck came by and brushed off the dirt.
Oddly, the individual Dufferin Rink schedule still says that the rink opens on Nov.23. It seems that no one has been able to fix the mistake yet.
Opened: Dec.11, 2018
Closed: March 17, 2019
The rink has been marked as open until yesterday and then it was listed as "snow removal in progress" (with over 25 cm of snow). At 11 a.m. it was again listed as open.
The first Friday night supper of the rink season. At 7.20 there were lots of staff, tables with odd tablecloths set up all over both rooms, and not much evidence of eaters. Hard to know where the skaters could fit.
The cooks gave me a taste of the chicken and pea curry they had prepared. It was very good. But still the look of the room is more like a restaurant down on its luck than a rink with a snack bar.
First time skate sharpening today since the rink opened (Dec.11). The staff say they've never seen the skates this dull. The rink has been crowded with skaters on many days -- and no one sharpening! Another amazing example of "nobody home."
The last day of the two-week holiday was not too cold, and partly sunny. The rink was packed, and lots of people looked like they were enjoying themselves -- but more outside than inside. Inside was a problem. Half the room was cluttered with tables, positioned in such a way that they blocked people from getting to the benches to change their skates. The tables had various unmatched tablecloths of different sizes, and as the day wore on these were pulled crooked and stained with spilled hot chocolate. The viewing counter was blocked by more tables and rickety chairs. So people who wanted to sit at the counter to watch the skaters out the window couldn't really get there.
As has now become the custom, only one of the double doors into the change room was open, so there was often a jam at the door. The garbage containers were close to overflowing but no one was changing the bags. The glass inserts in the front and back doors have partly ripped posters and old tape marks. Most of the lockers are still broken. The impression is one of a slightly out of control, cluttered and run-down storage room. Tearing the rink clubhouse down and building it new won't help, though -- the newer, expensively redesigned change rooms at Christie Pits, Greenwood, Dieppe, Cedarvale, and Riverdale all lose their glamour within a few years and revert to looking like nobody loves them. These community places need mature, experienced on-site oversight. That's missing everywhere. And in the case of Dufferin Rink, staff need to learn that this is first and foremost a rink, not a shabby restaurant.
Lots of people have been coming to the rinks -- the lack of snow and mild temperatures mean that the ice is good and people are not shy about being out of doors. The scene in the rink clubhouse is very friendly, with lots of people having hot chocolate with marshmallows, or a bowl of Mary's chili, and catching up on the news with their neighbours. The counter stools are mostly too low, though, which makes it quite awkward to sit there.
The Star's Fixer wrote a piece about the broken lockers at the city hall rink. It's no better here. Almost all the lockers are missing their coin-operated mechanisms. Only 8 still work. These are the lockers Tino got for the clubhouse 15 years ago, when it started to be so crowded, and thieves stole people's shoes and back packs. Somehow, this past summer all the locker mechanisms disappeared. Mysterious. Hopefully they can be found and fixed. People deserve to have somewhere to lock up their shoes.
From Councillor Bailao to the dufferingrovefriends list:
Although the rink had enough ice by Dec.9, it only opened for the season on Dec.11.
At about 3.30 pm, the mechanics turned on the compressors, asking the rink staff "is that a sound you like?" Indeed it was.
Five CIMCO workers were grouped around the end of the header trench, and then went back into the compressor room. Does this mean that more active work is being done? We'll see.
There were two CIMCO trucks at the rink at 11, then one left and the other stayed. Later on the news was that although the first problem -- whatever that was -- had been fixed, a new problem had arisen, involving a broken brine line. It sounds like that can't be fixed until the weekend -- why? Is it because CIMCO people are running all over the city trying to fix rink problems, so they have limited time to figure out the problem here? Or do they have to send to Chicago for parts? Nobody knows, because there is such a shroud of silence over all of this.
A city workman who was coming out of the compressor room thought we should be able to open next week. He said they were waiting for another ammonium alarm. They said that the compressor needed a new condenser. The man said the problem had to do with ammonia leaking into the brine that flows through the pipes. As far as he knew, that problem is fixed and the compressors could be started up now except for the missing ammonia alarm. He said the CIMCO guys were gone.
There were two workers on the pleasure pad blowing off leaves.
CIMCO workmen in the compressor room.
At 1 pm the rec staff person was going through contact lists to inform school classes that their bookings at Dufferin Rink might not be possible and they should look at taking their classes to other rinks. But most other rinks don't have skate lending, which the schools rely on. The rec staffer had not been told about Raymond Thomson's suggestion that the rink might be fixed by the end of the week, so that she might be sending out a false alarm.
There were two city vehicles parked outside, and two city staff in the compressor room, but they were from Facilities and Real Estate (FRED), not tech services, and they said they were not there to fix any problem related to the rink being closed.
By 9 pm there had been no word back from Raymond Thomson giving more information. But Peter Didiano, who works for Capital Projects, gave a little speech at the Community Resource Group meeting, about how the rink is pretty well on its last legs, just in time for being replaced by a new rink. He did not want to say what the current problems are, so we'll just have to continue asking.
Today was the first appearance of a CIMCO worker that anyone has noticed. He didn't stay long, and took away a barrel, but didn't talk to any of the rec staff. Nor did any of the managers talk to the onsite staff. But the Parks PR staff Raymond Thomson sent a response to yesterday's follow-up email:
It's interesting that he says city staff are working hard at the repairs. There's no sign of any repair crews other than the short contract visit by CIMCO -- city repair staff must be coming in and out under cover of darkness....
A city staff worker coming to inspect some element of the rink had not been told that the rink has no ice. So he went away again.
Follow-up letter to Parks PR staff Raymond Thomson:
"Is it conceivable that no one pre-checked the rink functions in October? And is it possible that CIMCO is only making their first assessment/repair visit tomorrow?
Please let me know. Also, I would appreciate getting to talk to the tech supervisor before Wednesday when my park newsletter comes out and the capital projects community meeting takes place."
From Carol Kidd:
I find it very odd that the Park staff wouldn’t have discovered the mechanical problems at the rink earlier, in advance of the scheduled opening of the rink. Surely staff would have been assigned the task several weeks ago of checking the machinery involved to ensure that everything would be up and running for the opening day....
From Gene Threndyle:
If there were no problems noticed last year and the system hasn’t been started up this year, it must be the compressor that is the problem or some part of the compressor system. It’s really just a big fridge and somebody should be able to explain the magic or why the magic doesn’t work to regular people.
Dufferin Rink is now marked as "delayed opening" for "mechanical issues."
Email from Jutta to Raymond Thomson ([email protected]), Nov.23, 2018:
Councillor Ana Bailao told me this afternoon that she had not heard back from staff about what's wrong with Dufferin Rink either. It sounds like now the prediction is that it will take a month to fix whatever the problem is.
I see from the staff directory that you are Mr.Ubbens' project advisor. Could you arrange for me to meet with the tech rinks supervisor the next time he's coming to the rink anyway (sometime in the next few days, I assume) so that s/he could explain the mechanical problem, and I can write up an accurate account for the December park newsletter? It's a puzzle that until yesterday the city's website still claimed the rink would open on time.
Response from Raymond Thomson, Nov.26, 2018:
From Matt Price: "I called Councillor Bailao's office and the person told me the reason the rink is not open is that it's not supposed to open until Saturday. I tried to explain that I was calling to say that the rink would not be able to open on Saturday because no ice had been made yet: but I don't think I made myself clear, because they just repeated that I shouldn't expect the rink to be open yet."
The "opening delayed" message has now been changed back to opening Nov.24. That's in two days but there is still no ice being made. Staff says that no one has seen any repair trucks either. The 311 information service says all they know is that the rink is set to open on Saturday -- the day after tomorrow.
The new supervisor of rink program staff was surprised to see no ice, and said she'll look into it.
At 11 pm, there was no one making ice.
The rink has no ice nor are the compressors running. Program staff have been told nothing. At 4 pm, the city's website changed the Dufferin Grove listing from Nov.24 to "opening delayed."
In 2016, City Councillor Ana Bailao announced a project called the "Northwest Corner Revitalization." The community was to be consulted about the rink clubhouse -- should it stay the same, be renovated, or replaced with a new building? The budget for this was unknown.
The city hired a consultant to do the community consultation, but after two meetings of a city-formed group called the "community resource group" (CRG), the project stalled.
Then in April 2018, the project got going again, but this time with a budget of up to $4.5 million and an intention to rebuild the rink pad as well. The community resource group was summoned for its first return meeting on Oct.17,2018. The city's summary of that meeting is here. The CELOS summary is here.
To test whether this rink needs to now be dug up and rebuilt, CELOS has assembled historical operating and maintenance material for Dufferin Rink here.
Rink diaries from earlier years:
On January 15, teacher Jessica Naves Gladman contacted CELOS because she had heard about our skate loan collection. She wrote: "I'd like to take my first graders on a skating trip. With the exception of one student, nobody owns skates. Are you able to help out?"
The school is in Scarborough, but there are no rinks nearby with skate rentals. I suggested contacting Dufferin Rink to book a time, since they have skate rentals.
Jessica booked Feb.27, but she was worried about getting her class there, over such a long distance. CELOS offered to pay for a school bus, and she said that would make the trip work. She also sent a letter to the Community Development and Recreation Committee of City Council, which was considering skate lending at city outdoor rinks. She wrote that the school where she teaches has the third highest rate of poverty in the city.
A few days before the class came, Jessica wrote: "The kids are so excited (nerv-cited, more accurately- excited to try skating, nervous that it will be hard!). I'm so glad to hear that DG has some skate aids. I won't tell them yet, but it's good for me to know that they exist."
Today, when the class arrived, Jessica told us that the visit had some longer-term good consequences. When she put out the announcement that she was taking the whole class to Dufferin Rink, some skate donations came in. The phys ed teacher who came along said that as donations continue to trickle in, they hope to have enough skates to take the whole class skating again to an indoor rink near them. And the kids liked it so much that they said they all want to go again.
Dufferin Rink still gets lots of school classes, including during the couple of weeks every winter when the Queen Victoria School classes come. They ave a very interesting and ambitious skating program -- a link is here.
Sounds like staff are being assigned to do a Caribbean-themed Family Day event at all three Ward 18 rinks (Dufferin, Wallace, Campbell) -- no posters yet.
At 1 p.m. the rink has lots of kids playing shinny hockey on the hockey side. About half are without helmets. They look like they're having a good time. City staff were putting up "helmets mandatory for shinny hockey" signs at different rinks today. Should the kids be be ejected? Back to their screens?
At 12.30 noon both rink pads are covered with water -- it's 11 celsius and the sun has melted the top layer. A few people are skating on the shinny hockey side, some more on the pleasure-skating side. The ice is still smooth under the protective layer of water, but it's obvious that the heavy metal frames of the nets are sinking into the ice. The staff person assigned to the skate room is sitting on a stool reading. When asked whether the staff plan to take the nets off the ice she says, no, they have not been directed to do so.
At 4 p.m. the nets have been put up off the ice. More than half of the city's outdoor rinks have been closed, but this one is still open. The layer of water is no longer enough to protect the ice -- gouges are starting to appear.
Two photos sent by Catherine Hsieh:
At 8.45 p.m. there is not one skater on the ice! And only two non-staff in the building. The Women of Winter tourney was today, and the staff said that after they all left, there was no one. Nice temperature, nice ice, a Saturday night -- why?
The rink opened at 9 a.m. and the first skates were rented out by 10.30 -- with I.D. despite management's concern that taking I.D. amounts to an "invasion of privacy."
E-mail on the Dufferin Grove list: "I'm taking 3 Syrian kids skating tomorrow afternoon at the rink -- this will be their first winter activity ever, which is kind of cool. I was planning on renting skates for them at the rink but when I was there this afternoon there were VERY few pairs available, and I'm worried we won't be able to get on the ice!"
It turns out there are 8 helmets, plus a few gloves and some tired-looking hockey sticks. The young kids' "try-out-shinny-hockey" program is no more. The staff have been told that there will be no hockey gloves or sticks to replace the many that disappeared last season. Some of the same staff who ran that program into the ground last years have been scheduled to work again this year.
Three workers are cleaning off leaves with hot water. All three are wearing helmets, so the health and safety rules have gone to this level for the first time ever. The workers say that this year ice making will happen in the evenings, not in the daytime.
The piles of leaves that were never removed at the other end of the rink seems to be mostly gone. However, all the leaves that got stuck on the pad when the compressors were turned on are still stuck there. Lots of remediation left to do, just because the leaves weren't blown off or raked up when it was the right time.
In the evening there were no more rink workers, and no ice making either. The hot water from the attempts to get the leaves off had frozen into rough ice puddles but otherwise the rink showed no evidence of ice-making, and was still snow-covered in places from yesterday's small snowfall. In the rink house there was one staff person doing dishes. The skate lending room is tidy and ready to go, although the collection has started at the point where it left off last season, with many skates missing and only four helmets left (out of 40).
The compressors are on and the skateboard equipment has been moved off the pad, but there are plenty of leaves in piles near enough to be carried right onto the rink pad -- where many are already frozen onto the cement.
The hockey side of the rink is clean but the pleasure-skating side has lots of leaves. Both sides have equipment standing on them (bike polo nets, skateboard ramps). Compressors are not on.