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Overcast. 5 degrees. The rink was deserted. As I walked up I saw an orange-suited man inside who then disappeared into a door on the left. When I reached the door to the community centre it was locked, and the man (who was in a room right beside the front door with a frosted glass window) didn't answer my knocks. Hm. The ice was very think and in bad shape - the surface was very frosty. Wonder when it was last done?
The zamboni was just starting to clear last night's snow off the ice. Apparently there's a shortage of zamboni drivers in the Etobicoke district. Or rather, they need twice as many as downtown, because no zamboni driver maintains more than one rink per shift.
There was a rink guard and a rink coordinator, but both said their shifts were ending at 5.45 -- then it will only be the zamboni driver on-site until 9.30.
At 1.15 pm the ice was empty and some skaters were just leaving the building. They said, "it's closed for cleaning." The rink staff (one rink coordinator, one rink guard) were in their office having lunch. They said the rink is closed between 1 and 2 for ice maintenance. But apparently there wasn't going to be any ice maintenance because the zamboni driver had stepped out. "No idea where he is, when he's coming back -- they're Local 416, nothing to do with us."
The ice was okay but not great -- it had some ridges, shell ice, divets. The rink staff said that the zamboni had been in bad shape for a few weeks already, even before Thursday's storm -- no water, dull blade, and that there had been some hand-flooding.
"Why did you make the skaters leave when there wasn't going to be any ice maintenance anyway?"
"Because those are the rules, and we'll get in trouble if we don't stick to them."
6 shinny players (5 of them wearing helmets). Nobody on the pleasure skating side, 5 in building. No sign of staff, and rink users say they don't know where any staff are. Ice good.
3 pleasure skaters, 7 shinny players (no helmets). Building unlocked, no staff in sight. The "Staff Room" sign on the recreation staff door has been ripped down. In its place is a city sign saying "Women" and a female figure (with graffiti). Can not see anyone in the Arena Operator staff room.
There is real confusion amongst skaters about the schedule. There is only one handwritten schedule posted (on the main door) and the bottom is ripped. It says: Monday unsupervised from 6:30-9pm, Tuesday from 7:30-9pm, Wednesday from 6:30-9pm. We are told that Thursdays (6:30-7:30 12-15yrs, 7:30-9pm), Fridays (can't read), Saturdays (can't read)and Sundays (can't read) are supervised - so that is when helmets are enforced. There is a hand written sign above the schedule that says that helmets are mandatory for all players and at all times. Yet, Arena (Zamboni) operators are not obligated to enforce this even if they are the only ones at the rink.
When asked about the weekend schedule - some said that it was open all day long, others were not so sure. There was also discussion about if there was shinny on Sunday or not.
As a side not - we've been told that on Saturdays now, the rink is open from 2pm till 5:30. Then again from 6:30-10pm. Conflicts with the current schedule on the city website.
Lively rink, but no rink guards. The zamboni driver said there's usually no rink guards in the evening on his Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday shifts, so he locks the building between 5.30 and 6.30 while he resurfaces the ice. He thinks this is because of "cutbacks."
Since there was no supervision this evening, there were few helmets for shinny -- of 18 shinny players (all ages, but mostly over 18), only 5 players had helmets. There were also 12 pleasure skaters. The whole scene looked very law abiding despite the absence of supervision.
A rink user at Wallace Rink said that JJP doesn't open until 2 p.m. on Saturday. He was told that the reason is, they can't get staff. They don't leave the rink unlocked either.
In actual fact, the schedule for this rink calls for only three and a half hours of access for all of Saturday. Skaters say that the rest of the day this million-dollar rink is locked. They also say that they have to wear helmets there, that the rink boss tells them if anyone refuses to keep his helmet on, all players will be taken off the ice and the rink will be locked.
Ice was a bit puddly. No skaters on either pad.
There was one pleasure skater, two shinny players. No one wearing helmets.
Their ice is thick already! The on-site zamboni driver, the only staff around, told us of plans he has to even it out by adding more ice to the spots near the drains where there are little dips - dangerous for shinny players. Since the rink is in West District, it has its own RCO full time. - I'm not sure why there is always an RCO on site
The ice was pretty chewed up, and the zamboni driver warned us it would likely melt a little in the afternoon. As we were there someone came to fix the on-site zamboni which had a dead battery, which meant there had been no floods that day, though one scrape on the shinny side.
The schedule was posted - handwritten, since it differs slightly from the one in the city brochure - at the entrance to the building, though there were no copies around. A puzzle: the pleasure pad opens earliest at 2, and more often 4pm according to the schedule - why would it be closed so much of the time?
The zamboni driver said the rink has almost no permits. He was very friendly, and as we left was offering to look around and see if he couldn't find a puck for some of the skaters.
Washrooms were clean. There are lockers but you have to bring your own locks. There were mats to and from the rinks, and a few grey benches outside the building pretty close to the rink. Two working machines, one for pop, one for candy! The staff phone is far off, in the office at the front of the building, and a payphone likewise at the front door. Green shovels were on site (but where?)
Rink was closed and ice looked bad.