For better use and better management. The UNOFFICIAL Website of Toronto's Outdoor Skating Rinks
The temporary access to the bleachers is muddy at the fence opening, changing to waterlogged in the middle, until people get to the bleachers that are the temporary skate changing area.
There is a long path made of rubber mats leading in the other direction, from the main path to the men's washroom. When asked if the mats leading to the washrooms could be lifted and put on the skating path instead, the Parks general supervisor wrote:
"the mats are there to provide access to the washroom building itself. This gives us a surface that we are able to maintain for snow and ice as we are unable to shovel or salt turf. This was the most economical and achievable solution until we are able to arrange for a more permanent pathway to the washrooms."
One reason why nobody at the park realized that the mats were meant to lead the washrooms is that the washrooms have often been locked this winter, for repair. So at the moment the path leads to nowhere.
From the Parks general supervisor: "Work orders have been submitted for the washrooms and I expect they should be fully functional again soon."
Opened today for the season.
The rink has ice and will be ready to open sometime after Feb.2, 2023
From Parks Capital Projects: "The rink is anticipated to open to the public the week of January 23, 2023, pending inspection sign-off and weather." read more
From parks manager "We have met with Parks Capital and it will not be possible to provide access from the south side of the rink." read more
The first rinkside campfire and oven bakeoff was today.
Re the campfire/oven: People gathering around the campfire had a lot of fun today and all the good food that came out of the outdoor oven was eaten up. NaMeRes bakers gave lessons on how to make the perfect bannock on a stick -- and we've saved the greensticks they whittled for the next campfire.
Re the rink: for about two weeks the rink construction has appeared to be all done -- but no sign of opening. The city's website has no up-to-date news -- it seems to have got stuck at "installation of dasher boards and spectator protection fencing," which finished weeks ago.
update sent out by project management
From Jutta (CELOS) "Your narrative does not specify the reasons why the rink opening has been delayed into or even beyond the holidays." read more
Rink diaries from earlier years:
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. read more
Rink diaries from earlier years
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
The contract for the rink reno has just come up on the city's Bid Award Panel agenda for next Weds. Oct.14. The capital projects 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.
The contract for the rink redesign has been approved.
After much effort by Ian Merringer, Mary Wood, Abi Pugh, and Don Kerr, plus some help from Lori Cullen, 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.
Ice-making is ongoing and it looks good.
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.
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.
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.
Rink diaries from earlier years
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. read more
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. read more
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.
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.
"It's of utmost importance to me that my students are afforded the same opportunities available to children who are growing up in more affluent neighbourhoods in Toronto. One opportunity that they miss out on due to their living conditions is skating. I began the process of trying to plan a class trip to a local skating rink and have been met with many obstacles standing in the way of getting them on the ice. One of these obstacles has been access to skates."
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.