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Shinny hockey players at Dufferin Rink have often complained that Glen Long Rink, up Dufferin Street north of Eglinton, "always seems to be closed." Time to go and see. At 2 pm on a pleasant Friday in December, the gates to the rink were locked and the ice was empty, with some light snow on it, but no skate marks.
There's a small community centre right next to the rink, with big "No Loitering" signs leading up to a side door. The door was locked, but I slipped in past an older man who was just coming out. Inside the centre there was a young recreation staff person, just leaving; an empty gym, and another large room full of elderly men playing cards. The staff person said, on being questioned, that indeed there are only very limited public skating hours but she didn't know when. She suggested talking to the rink maintenance staff, who -- it turned out -- was the man just going out the door when I came in. I said -- "but where is he now?" She suggested knocking at side door of the rink.
The door had no signage on it, but a knock brought the appearance of the maintenance staff. To my question -- "how come the rink is closed?" -- he answered, "it's not closed, it's open from 9 am to 9 pm." I said, "but the doors are locked..." He said, "I have to keep them locked because otherwise dog walkers go in there. But the rink is open." I asked, "how do people know the rink is open? There's no sign." He said, "they know."
I asked when the ice had been zambonied, and at first the maintenance staff said 7 a.m., but then he said he had flooded the rink only an hour ago. I said it didn't look like it had been cleaned, because of the snow on the ice, and he said, "there's no snow on the ice. What you're seeing is from the sun."
I asked him if I could put up a cityrinks.ca poster on the public bulletin board. He said there's no public bulletin board in the rink area but that if I asked the community centre supervisor, I might be allowed to put up the sign inside the centre. I asked if she was there, and he said -- "no."
Then he went back inside his office and shut the door. I taped a poster to the door, but it may not be there anymore, since he crossed back into the rec centre as I was getting into my car. Perhaps he was supervising the card players.
E-mail to Kevin Bowser, manager of City Outdoor Rinks, from cityrinks.ca
Some of the youth who like to play pick-up shinny hockey at Dufferin Rink told us that they want to play closer to home, at Glen Long Rink, but that rink is often locked. A visit last Friday afternoon confirmed that.
Were you aware of this situation?
North York did not do well on public access last year, and we'll be visiting all those rinks from time to time this year to monitor progress. The two exceptions that we know of in North York are Ledbury, because it has no fence, and Otter Creek, because it was part of the former City of Toronto and therefore has retained more of a culture of public access. Here's what was happening at those rinks at the same time as Glen Long was empty: Otter Creek Ledbury
I'm hoping that you will monitor this situation, since the considerable cost of staffing and cooling a locked rink does not really make sense. Assuming that there is some local history to this, I am sending the report to Councillor Moscoe's office as well.
Here is a copy of an e-mail sent by the cityrinks.ca outdoor rink monitor [in the case of this rink, me] to the City's Outdoor Rink manager, Kevin Bowser. The rink is in your ward, I think, and it has a problem that needs to be addressed (described in the link to the Glen Long rink diary).
Steve, Dec.11: r the still permits avalible at glen long or dufferin grove outdoor rinks?
cityrinks.ca, Dec.11: Not at Dufferin but I bet there are some at Glen Long -- call Andrea Boylan at 416-395-6055.
Steve, Dec.11: is it possible to book it thro email cause im busy during the day and i tryed calling last year and noone is there at the time i was able to call and i left messages and i never got a call back
cityrinks.ca, Dec.11: I will look into it, and e-mail you back.
It turned out that cityrinks.ca had listed the wrong number for permits for Glen Long. I called the right number: Titti at 416 395-6025, and there was no answer so I left a message. She called back soon after and said she could remember no messages to book permits for Glen Long, but that if Steve called her she'd be sure to call him back. So I called Steve and gave him the right number.
Steve, Dec.15: hey, umm i called that number u gave me on thurs or fri and left a message n i called back everyday since and i still havnt got a call back. so is there anyway i can just do it throw email, like can u or anyone else get me avalable times i can just do it throw here??
cityrinks.ca, Dec.15: the permit staff don't work weekends so you only have a chance of getting them on weekdays. There's another problem too, which is that Glen Long is often locked when it should be accessible.
Do you have a big group you want to play an organized game with, or do you and your friends just want to play pickup shinny hockey? You should be able to do that for free -- let me know and maybe we can help you go that route, without the permit hassle.
Steve, Dec.15: ya i have a group of guys liek 10-20 that wanna play n that would b way to much to play regular shinny cuz with the normal like 20 guys that would b there it would b to packed n no fun
cityrinks.ca, Dec.15: Okay I will try that number tomorrow and see what the problem is, and whether you can do any of this by e-mail.
Steve, Dec.15: alrite thnx alot
cityrinks.ca, Dec.16: Titti Dunn at Permits said it's fine to e-mail her -- [email protected]
At 2.30 pm the rink was open, the ice looked good, and there were two guys shooting a puck around. Inside the adjacent Rec centre, the recreation staff accepted a cityrinks.ca poster and said they'd put it up on the bulletin board. The centre has a newsletter called Winter 2009 News Flash which tells about indoor golf, ball hockey, indoor soccer, basketball, dance, cooking, music, etc. It also includes a few free drop-in programs "subject to availability and staff discretion." Then at the bottom there's a chart of the skating schedule, giving the very limited public skating hours customary at North York rinks. The recreationist pointed out a sentence underneath the schedule: "The outdoor pad is open for unsupervised free skate outside of regular program hours and scheduled permit times." A skater would see it if they read carefully. I suggested that maybe, since this is a change in policy from years past, they might want to put up a few colourful posters around the centre advertising this fact. He said his supervisor would have to approve, and gave me her name.
Out by the rink I asked the ice maintenance staff, who introduced himself as Sam, where I could put up a cityrinks.ca poster in the actual rink area. He said there's no public bulletin board but he would call his supervisor and ask. The supervisor said he didn't want anything taped to the wall in the change rooms but he would approve a poster going up in the window of the staff room, which is also a kind of gatehouse to the area -- a fine location. There was another rink staff person there too, who said his name was Roland. Both were friendly and both pointed out a city sign about "Unsupervised Skating" which didn't mention shinny hockey, but did urge all skaters to wear helmets. There are so many cautionary messages at rinks that it seems like Parks and Recreation may find recreational skating, and shinny hockey in particular, a bit regrettable. Don't people realize they could slip and fall? And yet the actual rink injury claims against the city over the last ten years are....two -- both related to full-equipment body-checking/fighting in indoor arenas.
This is a follow-up to my report last Friday, about Glen Long Rink being locked during the daytime. I did not receive a response to that email, neither from your office nor from Parks staff, so I went back yesterday and was pleased to find the rink open with good ice and a couple of skaters. Rink staff were friendly and helpful. Now all that's needed is to get the word out to skaters in the neighbourhood, who may be unaware that the outdoor rinks in North York are now available for free public drop-in skating during the day.
I am one of the supervisors in North York District working with the outdoor ice rink leisure skate staff. I am responding to your note to Kim Hussey regarding the lack of signage at Glen Long AIR (and at all the rest of our outdoor rinks as well)
We are in the process of having some permanent signs made that will be installed on the fencing at each of the rinks (except for Mel Lastman square, which doesn't have fencing). The signs will feature a) a program schedule for both supervised and unsupervised activities b) a note about the priority use of the rink c) contact numbers for program information or for emergency repairs, etc.
If the sign shop is able to make these signs a priority, they will be created and installed before the end of this year.
These signs will not "advertise" the existence of the open access to the rink however, which is what your note also suggests. I would agree that this is a critical missing piece to our service, as North York residents are not accustomed to unsupervised skating opportunities, and would not be expecting to have this service. I will check into the cost to have some all-weather banners made. Due to the year end closures of our 2008 cost centres, I may not be able to have them made until 2009, but the initiatives can been started now. Thank you for noting the lack of signage and for suggesting the promotional signage as well.
If you have any other questions or suggestions about outdoor rinks, please feel free to contact me by telephone as I recognize the wealth of experience you bring as both a community animator and user of our services. I welcome any ideas that will make our services more relevant to the residents.
Thanks for writing back. That's great that you're having signs made. The immediate concern is letting people know the skating possibilities during the holidays. Did you see the e-mail reply I sent Kim Hussey re holiday posters? I noted yesterday that you already have paper posters up in the window of the Glen Long Rink office, so maybe your staff could put up a few friendly posters about free unsupervised skating, that can bring a nice holiday surprise to people in the neighbourhood of Glen Long.
If your cost centres are so full up that they can't cover paper posters in time for the holidays, we'd be glad to print any colour pdf you e-mailed us, free. Or if you sent the text, we could get a nice photo of the rink and get our design person to put it together as you want. You could even have "did you know" as the start, like in the cityrinks.ca poster.
And thanks for your friendly invitation to have a chat -- that would be a very good thing, since outdoor rinks are one of the few outdoor social gathering places during the dark, cold winter. Toronto has an incredible treasure with all these rinks -- it's too sad if they're not well used.
The City's holiday rink schedules showed many outdoor rinks in Etobicoke and central Toronto open for New Year's Day. But it said that North Toronto outdoor rinks, except for Mel Lastman, would be closed.
The North York rinks were as good as their word. Despite the nice weather, and despite outdoor rinks in other parts of the city being lively with families and "Happy New Year" wishes exchanged among neighbours, Glen Long Rink was locked, with a new sign: Rink Closed. There was no other sign explaining when the rink would be open again.
In the afternoon the rink is open but there is still no outdoor sign re hours, "welcome to the rink," etc. No evidence of any skaters or rink staff either.