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10 pm: Rink locked but seven guys playing shinny hockey. No helmets. They said they managed to squeeze in the crack of the fence, although it was locked.
8.30 pm: The zamboni driver is just coming off the ice, which looks good. The hockey side has two kids in helmets and one adult without. The pleasure-skating side is empty.
Both of the women's toilets are blocked, one with paper towels and the other with a whole roll of toilet paper. Otherwise the place is clean, and the broken lights have been replace din the corridor. But it's empty.
Later on a youth at Wallace Rink says he lives right beside JJP and he used to go there all the time. He remembers that lots of skaters were there when he was a kid, but now he and his friends don't go there anymore, because of the helmets and too many rules. They go to Wallace and to Campbell, he says, since they're both full of skaters and the game is good there.
At 9.30pm the building was unlocked but there was no sign of any staff. There were 17 players on the hockey side, only two with helmets on, and three younger kids on the pleasure-skating side, also with hockey sticks. Plus there was a women sitting at the side on a bench, looking cold and bored, perhaps the mother of the younger kids.
4:30pm There were 5 shinny players on the hockey side all wearing helmets and another one waiting on the bench for his father to bring his helmet. One player said that the ice had been flooded around noon. The pleasure side was empty.
Staff were locked away in the staff office watching television. When I was leaving the shinny player who was waiting for his helmet had just received it but opted not to wear it anyway.
filed by Corey Chivers
5:30-6:00pm The ice has been removed from the steps leading down to the front entrance of the rinkhouse which is open. A group of hockey players has just left the ice. The rink guard says the rink is closing at 6pm. The gates will be locked and there will be no unsupervised skating as has sometimes been the case in the past. The ice is soft and snowy. There are a dozen young skaters on the leisure side. There are three shinny players on the hockey pad.
diary entry by M. Monastyrskyj
3pm When I got to the rink I saw people on the pleasure skating side, but the front doors to the rinkhouse were locked. I knocked. A couple of hockey players who just happened to be leaving, let me in. Inside I found 10 teenagers in the hallway that serves as a dressing room. They were sitting on the floor chatting, which suggests to me Giovanni Caboto rink has the potential to be the kind of social centre Dufferin Grove has become. In wintertime ice rinks are natural gathering spots in parks that are otherwise pretty empty. (On snowy days tobogganing hills also attract people.) The 2 rink guards were sitting on a bench chatting to a couple of the girls. I asked the guards whether the front doors were supposed to be locked. They looked at their watches and said since it was 3pm the doors should be opened. They asked me to go to the Zamboni driver's office to tell him to unlock the doors. The Zamboni driver told me he just got there. He wasn't sure if the doors should be unlocked or not. He took a look at the sign that is posted on the door. He said people would have to go around back to get in. He said the front doors were locked because the steps leading to them were covered in ice. This doesn't make sense. The sign says nothing about ice. It just tells people to use the rear gate (not doors!) when the rinkhouse is closed during the day. Also, the only way to read the sign in the first place is to go down the steps, which were in fact very icy. (Why? Couldn't one of the rink guards clear the ice?) This is the exact wording of the sign on the front door:
ATTENTION ALL PATRONS/PARTICIPANTS
PLEASE BE ADVISED TO ACCESS THE GIOVANNI CABOTO OUTDOOR RINK DURING THE DAY 9:00AM TO 3:00PM MONDAY-FRIDAY PLEASE FOLLOW THE OUTLINED PROCEDURE.
"YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO WALK AROUND THE FACILITY ALONG ST. CLAIR THROUGH THE PARK/BACK PARKING LOT TO ACCESS THE REAR GATE OF THE RINK"
THE RINK BUILDING IS ONLY ACCESABLE (sic) FROM 3-10:00PM, MONDAY TO FRIDAY, & WEEKENDS FOR ALL OTHER TIMES PATRONS/PARTICIPANTS CAN USE THE JOSEPH J. PICCININNI CENTRE FOR WASHROOMS & WARMTH!
FOR ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS REGARDING THE OUTLINE, DIRECT YOU'RE (sic) CALLS TO PARKS DIVISION MIKE HINDLE 416-394-2677
The doors at the back have signs saying No Entrance, however, I have noticed some people using them in the past. When I got on the ice I found 10 skaters on the pleasure side and five on the hockey pad. The ice was in good condition except for chunks of hard snow scattered here and there. Also, I noticed that snow on the pleasure side was piled against the boards and against the fence. One of the rink guards got on the ice a few minutes after me but he didn't stay very long. Once on the ice I noticed that there was an open gate leading to St. Clair. Skaters coming from St. Clair can sometimes enter the rink through that gate but only if they already know it's there and only if it happens to be open on a particular day. If skaters don't know it's there they wouldn't see it because it's hidden behind construction trailers and there aren't any signs at the front doors pointing to it. When I left at 3:50pm, I noticed some teenage girls playing hockey on the pleasure pad. They were playing with a boy who wasn't wearing any skates. The rink guards were inside.
11:30am The rink was covered in snow. The dressing room doors were locked but two City recreation workers were letting people in. There were a dozen people there waiting to skate. A few children tried skating in the snow. At 11:40 two men came to clean the ice. They had just come from High Park and Rennie. They explained that the snow would make it hard to clean the ice with a Zamboni. They said it would take at least an hour. The rink is scheduled to close for the day at 2pm. However, this may simply mean that the building will be locked. There might be unsupervised skating later depending on whether the gates are left open or not.
Clearing the snow
Skating in the snow
9:50pm The building is closed. The pleasure skating pad is empty. The gate to the pleasure skating side is locked, but the gate to the hockey side is open. A family of four is playing shinny. At about 10 the Zamboni driver asks the family to leave the ice. As they are leaving two young men arrive at the rink to play. This is their first time here. They usually play at Queensway rink. They ask if it's too late to play. The family and two other players say they may be back later after the lights are off. The parents say it can be tough finding places where they can play hockey with their sons.
2 pm, Boxing Day: The rink was open even though the rink schedule said it would be closed both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Apparently there had been some confusion in scheduling, in that the zamboni operator was told to come from 10am to 6pm, but the rink guards were cancelled for the day. A rink guard happened to pass by and the zamboni driver asked him to work, so he did.
The ice was in good condition. There were six hockey players and two more putting on their skates, plus six pleasure skaters and three more putting on their skates. There's construction going on somewhere in the area and so the rink is sort of hidden behind construction trailers.
This rink works differently than the nearby City of Toronto rinks in that it has a zamboni operator on site at the rink for at least 8 hours a day. However the ice gets the same amount of maintenance as other double pads. This leaves the zamboni operator with a considerable amount of down time. The rink is also different in that it seems to close completely (be locked) for an entire hour while the rink maintenance happens.
There is an unused changeroom with a door leading right out to the ice, which is kept locked, plus another changeroom with another door that is used only as a staff room. The zamboni operator has his own unmarked office near the entryway but without any window toward the rink side. Meantime skaters must change in a hallway whose lights are not working right now. There is some light from the windows in the exit doors but it's still really dingy.
The rink is accessible for skating from 9 am to 3 pm from an outside gate leading off a kind of construction road that's quite hard to find. Meantime there's a gate leading from St.Clair Avenue right beside the rink building entrance, onto the pleasure-skating side. But that gate is apparently kept locked.
It was tricky to discover what exactly the hours of rink access are, but it did seem clear that there are some elements in the running of this rink that may discourage most rink users from coming very often, or at all. Too bad -- this is a relatively new rink with very good ice.
As we were leaving, an elderly man (who said he's lived in the area for 40 years) was asking the rink staff why the rink is so often locked. He was also unhappy about the lights being broken in the hallway where skaters must change.
5:15pm High 0 celsius, low -4. The holiday schedule says the rink will be closed on Christmas Eve and it is. The changeroom is locked and so is the back gate that leads to the ice surface. (This gate is sometimes left open to allow for unsupervised skating when the rinkhouse is closed.) The rink is deserted. The outdoor lights are on and the ice appears to be in good shape.
2:45pm There are two people in the changeroom taking off their skates. A woman is asking a city staffer about the skating schedule. The schedule says the rink will be closed on Christmas and Boxing Day. The staff person is asked whether the gate will be open allowing people to skate unsupervised on those days. The staffer doesn't know. The staffer is asked about the rink's helmet policy. Helmets with straps are mandatory for shinny players. Visors and face guards are optional. The helmet rule is posted at the bottom of sign listing all rink regulations.
There are a dozen shinny players. They are all wearing helmets. A game is in progress. The pleasure rink is empty except for two rink guards. The guards say the rink has been quiet all day. They say that so far that day there haven't been more than seven people on the pleasure side. They attribute this to the Christmas holidays as well as to weather reports forecasting rain. The ice is in very good shape. The guards say it was cleaned at the start of the day.
Over the next hour more people come on the pleasure side. At one point there are nine skaters, mostly young teens. There is one mother and father with two boys on the ice. There is also a father with his son. The father started videotaping his son at a point when there was only one other skater on the ice. The two guards are on the side talking to their supervisor. The superivsor tells the man he's not allowed to videotape unless there are no people on the ice. The only other skater, a CELOS researcher, comes over and says he doesn't mind being videotaped. The supervisor says she can't make any exceptions. The man says he understands and turns off the camera. He continues to talk amiably with the rink guards over the next hour. The guards ignore a game of British bulldog. (The only skater not playing is the CELOS researcher who doesn't object, because the young boys playing are careful to avoid bumping into him.)
Shortly before 3pm there is a fight on the shinny side. The guards go over and separate the hockey players. They ask a couple of young boys to leave the ice. The players say they were angry because another boy was bodychecking them. The rink guards and their supervisor are patient with the boys. They say there is a rule against bodychecking and that the boys should have come to them with their complaint instead of getting into a fight.
At 3pm the supervisor clears the shinny side, because it is the time set aside for parents and children under 8. She tells the boys she would have let the shinny game go on until the parents arrived, but decided to clear the hockey side because of the fight. When the CELOS researcher left at 3:10 no parents had showed up yet.
7:45pm A sign on the door says the rink building is closed weekdays 9am to 3pm. People who want to skate during that time period have to change outside. The ice on the pleasure side is in good shape except for one rough patch. There are twelve people on the leisure pad and eight people on the hockey side. The hockey players are various ages. There are a couple of middle-aged men, some teens and a few younger boys. Every player except for one teenager is wearing a helmet and visor. Most of the pleasure skaters are teenagers but there is a pair of older men as well. There is also a father with his young daughter. He says he lives in the area and used the rink last year. He says the rink does get busy especially during the Christmas holidays. He thinks the rink is quiet now because the skating season has just started. He sometimes takes his daughter to Dufferin Grove rink but he likes Giovanni Caboto better because it's not as busy. For the first fifteen minutes of this rink visit there are two rink guards on the pleasure pad. They tell a group of teenagers to take a puck off the ice. The guards leave the ice at 8 and are still gone at the end of the visit at 9.