In September, some recreation staff from Wallace-Emerson Rink (10 minutes downhill from Giovanni Caboto) and CELOS made a proposal to Parks and Recreation. We asked for permission to photograph the change rooms at Giovanni Caboto, and that led to several weeks of back-and-forth, since City staff first said they had no key. They said the police had the key in the summer and fall, since they liked to use the rink changerooms to relax during their breaks when there were special events in the park.
However the key was eventually tracked down, and we took the photographs for use in a bulletin. We made a mock bulletin showing the simple but nice things that could be achieved in the 09/10 rink season. Then we sent them the list of proposals. We also made a chart of the costs
Then we had a meeting with the two directors, Andy Koropeski of Parks and Malcolm Bromley of Recreation. However, Mr.Bromley was most concerned with a possible conflict of interest for the recreation staff, who might stand to gain more hours of work if this project went ahead. Despite the clarification that staff hours would not be increased, by October 21 it was clear that the only result of the proposal was more meetings planned, and that there would be no collaboration along the lines of our proposal.
October 15 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason
We have scheduled an all skate staff Management meeting for Monday October 19th at which time we plan to discuss the upcoming season. Andy and I both agree in principle with the plan for JJP and Wallace. Both the Parks and Recreation Branches are committed to improving the quality of the skating program. We will be conveying our mutual expectations to the staff on Monday. The ways and means of implementation will be sorted out by the Managers within a timely manner. Andy is following up on the immediate repair of the gate at Wallace. We will contact you after Mondays meeting to arrange a follow up meeting.
October 15, 2009, from Jutta Mason to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley
Re the programming suggestions for JJP: we would need to know by the end of next week i.e. October latest, i.e. October 23, whether you want to use your PT staff's experience to make this work. The senior PT staff who would be involved are already fully booked at Dufferin/Wallace/Campbell and they'd have to arrange for more junior people to step up and fill in the holes. Plus there's some detail work needed to make sure that there's no added cost. It will be tricky but the staff told me they'd enjoy putting their efforts into this.
I'm intrigued to see if you and Andy will decide to make this happen. If it has support from the top, it will work.
October 15 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason
Part of Mondays meeting will be to develop an action plan that factors in your ideas. We will consult with you asap once our staff develop the plan. This won't be a drawn out process. I want our staff to be allowed to do their work on this.
October 15, 2009, from Jutta Mason to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley
Not trying to rush you, just to be realistic. October 23 is realistic. If your managers/supervisors want to talk to us -- that would make sense, wouldn't it? -- rather than just going off and discussing with each other, there would be an even better chance that progress could be made.
We may have a better outdoor rinks overview than most of your staff. You will note that cityrinks.ca has this season's rink opening information whereas neither the city "rink hotline" nor the city website have been updated since last season. It's only a bit over a month from when the first 14 outdoor rinks open.
Time to take more action, for sure.
October 16 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason
Yes it does make sense. We will decide who is going to work with you on Monday.
E-mail from Jutta Mason sent to Malcolm Bromley, Wednesday Oct.21 2009
I called today to find out about our Giovanni Caboto/Wallace rink proposal. I gather that a supervisory meeting on the subject is planned for next week. Sadly, that's too late for us. The PT rec staff say that with so little lead time, even our simple suggestions would be too hard to plan for. I agree.
An opportunity lost, for that neighbourhood! However, perhaps the Giovanni Caboto Rink staff will be motivated to put out a better effort this year than last. I'll keep you posted, via cityrinks.ca.
October 25 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason
Andy and I don't think its too late to improve the skating program. For the first time ever we held an all management skating staff meeting for programs across the City. True we would have been better positioned if we did this earlier but I am still optimistic. Our message to staff was that we will work as one team in our pursuit of high quality outdoor rink services. Andy and I will be closely monitoring the work of our staff teams. We will welcome the assistance of you and Celos.
In late November, a Star article made reference to the proposal, and to general manager Brenda Patterson's rejoinder.
Sunday December 6, 2009.
The front doors were locked, and once inside (from the back), there's no staff in evidence, zamboni driver's door closed, no sign, bulletin board empty. However there were two rink guards out on the ice, and a rink coordinator who says he works at that rink "once in a while." The ice looks good.
front doors, locked like last year
side gate in fence is open, no sign
When asked about the locked doors, the zamboni driver at Giovanni Caboto says, "it's been like this for 25 years." But the message it sends may contribute to the lower rink usage at Giovanni Caboto. For comparison: On Sunday Dec.6 at 2.30 pm there were 23 skaters plus 4 staff at Giovanni Caboto. There were 86 skaters at Dufferin Rink plus 57 people inside, plus 4 staff. At Wallace Rink at 3 pm there were 71 total (outside plus rink house) plus 3 staff.
Dec.9 2009, e-mail from Jutta Mason to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley, cc Parks Director Andy Koropeski
no evidence of follow-up on the Giovanni Caboto front yet (referring to your October 25 note) -- I gather that a meeting last night with John Fulton had only one of their rink staff (five from Wallace) and resulted in no firm plans of any kind.
Even so, would you or Andy be willing to direct Giovanni Caboto staff to unlock the rink's front doors during the rink's hours of operation? I hope you agree that the "high quality outdoor rink services" you mention below would have open entryways as a starting point. West Mall Rink has the same peculiar problem.
Dec.9 2009 e-mail from Parks Acting Director Andy Koropeski to Jutta Mason
Regarding your question I am advised that John Fulton of Recreation has directed that the doors will be open when staff is on site. Mon to Fri 4 pm to 8 pm, Sat and Sun 9 am to 6 pm. Other times the gate entrance can be used.
Dec.9 2009 e-mail from Jutta Mason to Parks director Andy Koropeski
Thank you Andy, that's an improvement for Giovanni Caboto. But it sounds like you feel that during the times when the on-site rink staff is a Parks person, the front doors can still be locked. However, this approach is inconsistent (thankfully) with that of the other Etobicoke "major" rinks, and elsewhere. Those rinks are also staffed by a 416 operator/lead hand only, in the daytime, but even during those times they have both front and back door open and accessible for rink users. The exception is West Mall -- see below the rink diary excerpt from Dec.2, with the photo (same as last year, the front doors by the bus stop are always kept locked).
The concept of keeping the front doors locked on public buildings, at any time when there is a city staff person being paid to be there -- very peculiar, yes? Would you be able to direct West Mall staff to unlock the front doors, during the hours when a staff person is on duty? And to extend the open-door time at Giovanni Caboto to all day?
If safety for the Parks worker is an issue, they can just lock themselves in their office when they're alone. At Giovanni Caboto, they already do, or they go into the community centre (the other door out of their office).
Saturday December 12 2009
skating on a beautiful mild Saturday, 1.30 pm
the stairs have a path cleared of snow and ice
there's a sign announcing the unlocked doors
once you get inside, there is a door with no sign on it...
...and a long empty hallway with locked doors
but around the corner is the rink, hurray
E-mail from rink user R.F. to cityrinks.ca, December 12
Yes, I'm willing to sign on to the proposal being discussed in reference to the Giovanni Caboto rink status. In fact, I would be a perfect candidate as I have resided 200 metres from the Giovanni Caboto rink for the last 30 years!! Giovanni Caboto rink has maintained a culture that is sending too many families away, in search of a rink that is open and accessible, with an odd schedule, dark change rooms and a routine closed door policy. Giovanni Caboto is missing a crucial opportunity to engage its youth in a Ward that desperately needs its children and citizens to feel safe and welcomed!!
Giovanni Caboto has an unlimited potential when it comes to being a catalyst in fostering a healthy, vibrant community for all, with a great street front location and transit at its doorsteps, the possibilites are endless.
Open doors and well lit dressing rooms would be the first step in addressing a rink culture that must change if it is going to finally realize its potential.
Monday Dec.14, e-mail to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley and Parks Director Andy Koropeski
I've included your October 25 e-mail below, Malcolm, in which you wrote that both of you will welcome the involvement of CELOS in the improvement of the outdoor rinks. I would therefore like to come and see you again to discuss the following issues relating to our "test sites" of Wallace and Giovanni Caboto outdoor rinks:
1. cross-fertilization of rec program coordinators: since John Fulton's meeting with Rec workers only involved one Giovanni Caboto Rink staff, it would be good to try another approach. Suggestion: direct the rink coordinators working at both Wallace and Giovanni Caboto rinks to make a schedule of "shadowing" each other for 3 hours each. Wallace-Dufferin-Campbell rink coordinators (4 PT staff) can take turns working alongside Giovanni Caboto-Rennie-High Park-West Mall coordinators (I assume also about 4 PT staff). If every coordinator gets to see what goes on at the other district sites, that should get the conversation and good ideas flowing in realistic channels.
2. information on rink bulletin boards: CELOS would like to post our Wallace/Giovanni Caboto proposals at both rinks, for discussion by rink users. These would be clearly identified as proposals only. Andy, this would mean you directing your staff (Parks) not to remove the material after we put it up at Giovanni Caboto, which is what they have done to anything we posted in the past.
3. connecting with the JJP advisory council to discuss the two rink staffs collaborating on a Giovanni Caboto Rink "Fun Day" in later January. Such a day would involve, for example, a rink-side campfire with hot dogs and marshmallows and hot chocolate, music on the rink PA system, and skate lending. It would also involve doing broad publicity through the local schools, libraries, churches, the City Councillor, and agencies. A local donour has given a bit of money to help cover materials. The idea would be to make more people in the neighborhood aware of the existence of Giovanni Caboto Rink.
4. Addressing the unsolved ice maintenance disparity. Wallace Rink continues to have a schedule of half or less the ice maintenance of Giovanni Caboto rink, even when there is 2-4 times the usage at Wallace. Skaters at Wallace are very unhappy. It was our understanding that you promised this situation would change. This needs discussion.
Please let me know if you can make the time to follow up on these issues. One hour would be good, but it would be best before the Christmas holidays, since these rinks have their season now. If you cannot find the time to meet, please address these issues in writing. They need responses.
December 16 2009
Census and comparison, 6.30 pm:
Wallace Rink, 22 shinny hockey players, 10 pleasure-skaters
Giovanni Caboto: 8 shinny hockey players, 5 pleasure-skaters
E-mail excerpt from Parks Director Andy Koropeski to cityrinks, December 18 2009:
Earlier we had an exchange of e-mails and conversations about keeping front doors of the Giovani Caboto (JJP) and West Mall rinks open when Parks staff are dedicated on-site and in the buildings. While I don't think it is fair to characterize it as peculiar, as the staff do have some legitimate concerns based on experience about the need to deter vandalism/mischief within the building, I do understand the sentiment that we are providing a service to the public and want to make it as inviting as possible. I think it is also fair to acknowledge that other access points to both buildings are available so these buildings are by no means inaccessible, and we have not had any widespread requests about this before. Nonetheless, I am willing to give it a try and have instructed that when dedicated Parks staff are on these sites (JJP - Saturday and Sunday 7:00 am to 3:00pm, and 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, 7 days; and West Mall - 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, 7 days) the front doors be unlocked during the hours of rink operation. If problems do arise, we will revert back to the previous operation.
E-mail excerpt from cityrinks to Parks Director Andy Koropeski
Re "no widespread requests" for front doors being unlocked: With respect, how do you know? Nobody has been at home in the rink management for a long time. To track our monitoring: Giovanni Caboto
Insofar as people give you feedback (vote) with their feet, Giovanni Caboto and West Mall are both remarkably lower in usage than they ought to be.
This is the holiday time, and people want to get out and do something. It's interesting that they also want to hang out inside at Giovanni Caboto sometimes (see the "inside" count for the census). Even though, at this rink, they have only those skinny benches in the hallway by the lockers, people still want a winter clubhouse where they can talk and sit together. What a shame that there the two nice rooms at this rink, with lots of benches, are kept locked.
Tuesday Dec.22, 2009
7.45: 1 shinny player, 0 pleasure skaters.
8pm: 15 people inside, all together
8.30: pm 20 shinny players, 4 pleasure skaters
9 pm: 15 shinny players, 10 pleasure skaters
9.30 pm: 10 shinny players 8 pleasure skaters
10 pm: 8 shinny players, 0 pleasure skaters
Wednesday Dec.23 2009
12 noon 4 pleasure skaters, 2 shinny hockey (both with helmets) 2 rink guards
5pm 10 pleasure skaters, 8 shinny hockey (no helmets or staff in evidence)
Rink unlocked. 12 noon: a light snow on the both pads but there were still shinny players - 8 on the hockey side, using snow fencing for nets, none were wearing helmets.
1pm: there was a family of 7 coming to play shinny. All they would have needed was access to shovels and they could have played with ease.
Saturday December 26 2009
At 12.30 pm. the zamboni driver said he would not take the water off the ice because the rink has low points and higher points, and he wanted to use the rain to make it more level. There were 5 skaters on the ice, (4 pleasure-skaters, 1 shinny hockey w. helmet)
At 8pm, the lights were off and the rink was locked. There was no clue why.
Monday December 28 2009
Numbers at 3:10pm: 27 pleasure-skaters (5 helmets); 20 shinny hockey - all helmets, including the rinkguard who was playing along; 9 inside
Tuesday December 29 2009
Numbers at 7pm: 7 pleasure-skaters, no helmets, and 8 shinny hockey, all helmets
Wednesday December 30 2009
Numbers at 5 pm: 18 pleasure-skaters on one side, 4 shinny hockey players on the other side (3 helmets).
The coordinator says they now have skates available for borrowing, two in each size. They take the person's name and phone number, and don't charge for the loan. They haven't got a system for skate sharpening yet.
Thursday December 31 2009
At 4.30 the rink is open. Staff says he's on site till 8pm. He says that they have 50 new skates for rec. staff to lend out.
Numbers at 4.30: 4 shinny hockey players (no helmets) and 7 pleasure skaters.