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This rink, along with most other outdoor rinks, has benefited from the calm winter weather this season -- until yesterday. But after the big snowfall that began early on Monday morning (more than 26 cm), the rink did not reopen until 3.30 Tuesday. Many rinks opened sooner. Was the extra cost for the roof worth it?
Rink diaries from earlier years:
The councillor's assistant responded to the teacher's letter from yesterday:
Jessica Naves Gladman, a teacher at a school just a bit east of Greenwood Rink in Scarborough, cc'd us on this letter she wrote to the councillor:
Eastview Community Centre is advertising a "Winterfest" event, and it's also on the city councillor's website. The poster says there will be face painting, hot chocolate, and skating lessons.
September 11, 2017
A letter was sent to the city councillor, offering a donation of a complete skate loan collection for this rink.
* people love to borrow skates: newcomers, school classes, kids and youth who grew out of their skates
* we have 110 skates, 20 hockey sticks, 20 helmets to donate
* this kind of program has been done by city staff for 12 years at Dufferin Rink, 9 years at Wallace and Campbell -- lots of experienced staff, each one teach one
* staff often have time on their hands to lend skates and also to maintain skates
* the city has insurance that can cover this (the city is self-insured under $5 million anyway), but skate lending programs are rarely threatened with a claim if they do responsible skate maintenance.
First big snowfall. At 12.30 p.m., 17 of the city's rinks are listed as open, but Greenwood is still listed as closed and "snow-covered."
From Michael Kavluk, 12.15 p.m.: "The hockey rink is in very good shape today. The change rooms super clean. The young staff seemed excited to begin the season.
The "track" however is half closed with a large City truck is parked on the ice for no apparent reason!
Last year the Zamboni would work on the hockey rink, then drive across the park to the ice track to get to the garage, leaving mud-filled ruts in the track's ice surface, making it treacherous for anyone skating that part of the ice surface."
For the last week, Greenwood's pleasure-skating trail has been closed due to poor ice.
Eastview Community Centre held a skating party in the afternoon, which worked out well despite sunny weather (5 celsius) and slushy ice toward the end. They borrowed skates and a few sticks from CELOS, helmets from Wallace Emerson CC.
An evening skating party for the Greenwood ESL students. The teachers rented the party room ($50 for two hours), and despite the cold weather warning, lots of kids came. Almost none had skates. The school has a skate collection, and we brought Randy's loaner skates, so there were enough for everyone. They looked to be having a very good time, and the teachers had provided doughtnuts, cookies and hot chocolate from Tim Horton's a well -- a real party.
There was some chance to talk to staff as well. The staff tend to gather around the large front desk, to chat amongst themselves and with their friends. They are courteous to skaters who come and ask for information, but quickly revert to the social scene. And indeed -- what else is there to do? The job of the zamboni operator is to resurface the ice twice or three times on an eight-hour shift. In between can be pretty boring. The other staff pass half the time playing cards or chatting, with the rink guards taking a few rounds on the skating trail, and then back in again. There is no snack bar or skate rental to keep the staff occupied. There's not even a public phone line that would require staff to talk to parents or to people who want to find out how the ice is. The only urgent tasks are negative: to make sure nobody takes a picture, that kids under 6 are wearing CSA-label hockey helmets, and that even when the skating trail is empty, nobody can play pretend-hockey with their little kid (see the Dec.11 2015 entry).
A big problem with rink staff is the question of whether they have agency. Creative action, being an agent of change rather than just following orders, is discouraged by management. The rink staff have ideas, but they don't have the feeling that they can try things. They were saying, "can you imagine that they rebuilt this place without a sound system?" I said, "at Dufferin Rink they hook an old city amp/speaker up to the staff's playlist, and it works fine." They said, "we could never do that here."
They said, "there's a possible route for the zamboni to take when they maintain the hockey ice, that doesn't require the driver to cut across the skating trail. When the driver has to cut across the trail, the other staff have to stand guard to make sure nobody is run over. But if the city were to join two parts of an existing concrete path with another ten feet of concrete, the problem would be solved. We all know it, but they'll never listen to our opinions."
Giving up before they even begin.
There were plenty of people at the rink on New Year's Day, mostly families with kids. A very cheerful scene, and a big difference from last New Year's Day when the building was closed. This year every bench in the rink change room was full, even the benches in the giant women's washroom. People had to line up to get in and out of the door but nobody seemed impatient -- there were lots of neighbourly "happy New Year!" greetings.
There were four staff seated at the big front counter. They took turns going outside to check on the ice, but without skates -- the lead indoor staff said that none of their rink guards had shown up. No problem -- the mood on the rink was friendly.
Despite the addition of the new Quonset garage, the zamboni was still inside the old tarped-fence enclosure, heated with strong space heaters. The problem, the zamboni driver said, is that there's no water supply in the new garage, and going back and forth between the new Quonset garage and the water supply at the end of the rink building is cumbersome and time-wasting. Apparently that's only one of the frustrations -- the other is that the zamboni has to drive back and forth across the pleasure-skating trail to resurface the hockey rink, and the drivers find it nerve-racking to be constantly worrying about kids running out. Poor planning.
Certainly at the time of the community meetings about the rebuilding of the rink, the zamboni crew couldn't get the attention of the planners about the rink's maintenance arrangement. A garage was not even put into the $3 million plans, and the afterthought of the Quonset garage hasn't really fixed the problem. Next time, hopefully.
The fire pit is new and staff didn't think it had been used yet this year. It will be fun once the fence comes down, but for now the fence is there, said the zamboni driver, to prevent him from dumping snow on that area. There are various access anomalies, including the absence of an access path for the drivers to get from the rink house to the zamboni area. The driver has to walk through the landscaping, squeezing in between bushes. Looking at the full half of the glass -- it's sort of a nature trail.
From Chrisinte Holman on Facebook: "Well, yea, it was nice to see so many families out there. BUT, the ice, at least in the a.m. when I was there, SUCKED!! There was a good 1/2 inch of snow all over it, at least, and some nasty cracks & holes (presumably from somebody's picks on their figure skates..) underneath it. I asked whether the ice would be cleaned, and the staff told me that they had no Zamboni crew & it had to wait until a "fly" crew got there, but no idea when. Couldn't somebody figure out it would be a busy day & make sure there was a crew there???? Stupid."
Another warm day, already over 10 celsius at 11.30. I ask the building staff how the ice has been since they opened, have they had lots of skaters, etc., and he asks me, why do I want to know? I say I do a blog on cityrinks.ca. He tells me he can't answer any questions because he's not allowed to talk to the media. I take a picture of the zamboni quonset garage and he says photography is not allowed. My response, that I'm taking a picture of a building, not a person, seems to make it all right. But he can't tell me whether the garage is in use this year, for the zamboni, "call my supervisor." I say I totally understand, he's just following his training as directed. He says he appreciates that I get it.
It's possible, of course, that he really doesn't know, since most rink program staff seem to have no idea of how these rinks work or what the zamboni staff do.
There are very few people at the rink, nobody at all on the pleasure-skating side, until a man arrives with his little girl and her grandparents. The Dad gets his daughter set up with her skates, then brings out his hockey stick and a little one he's brought for her. The building attendant goes over quickly, and tells them, "no hockey sticks allowed on the pleasure-skating path." The man puts the sticks away; the grandparents look glum.
When the building attendant comes back over to me, I say, "now you're being a bit too bureaucratic. Can you let them play just for a few minutes? It's a good way for little kids to gain confidence on their skates." The staff says, "no, if somebody comes...." I say, "you can tell the Dad that he has to put the stick away if somebody else comes." I say, "your training should help you make skating enjoyable for the people who come."
Maybe the "somebody" he's worried about would be his supervisor. Maybe his supervisor would also feel that following the rules, any rules, is job one.
Rink diaries from other years:
At 12.30 the temperature is 2 celsius under a bright blue sky. The rink has five people on the pleasure-skating path (including two little kids) and 8 people skating but not playing shinny on the hockey side -- one of them smoking a cigarette. The building attendant says there was a permit for some classes at the rink early in the morning -- about 100 students, using the covered side. Other than that, he said, attendance has been sparse, even when the ice is good.
The new Quonset garage never did get any use from the zamboni over the winter, although the building attendant said there have been a lot of visits from an electrician. But utilities weren't signed off, the same as at Dufferin Grove.
The rink building was closed, presumably to save having to pay a building attendant the $77.00 holiday bonus. There were many skaters, and the zamboni was resurfacing the ice during our visit. Meantime, in Etobicoke on that same day, other destination rinks like Greenwood (e.g. High Park, Rennie, and Col. Sam Smith) had their buildings open, with rec staff as well as zamboni drivers. The Etobicoke hockey rinks also had their buildings open, without staff. It seemed to work fine. Why the double standard?
City Councillor Paula Fletcher sent out a link in her Ward 30 newsletter, giving the rink's holiday schedule. The notice said that the Greenwood Rink building would be closed on all three stat holidays. But happily, the city's holiday schedule turned out to be wrong. Today at noon the rink building was OPEN and even though there was no staff person in sight, people were free to go in and out and change wherever they chose.
A problem with the HOLIDAY HOURS: it appears on the city's rink information website/311 that almost all of the city's rinks will have their changerooms/washrooms locked on the three main holidays: Christmas Day, Boxing Day (yes!), and New Year's Day. You can skate on most of the rinks but you can't get your kids out of the cold to change their skates and you can't take them to the washroom. This is true for Greenwood Rink.
What's the message here -- "you should be drinking, not skating" -- ?
8 pm: Good ice, lots of skaters. There's a big, lively youthful social scene inside the rink house -- lots of young guys chatting with the rink staff, lots of people lingering after a skate. The rink staff are asked if Kew is open -- they say it's not opening until this coming weekend -- obviously their world is centered around Greenwood Rink! But they are very friendly, and when reminded that Kew opened at the same time as Greenwood, that rings a bell. But still they have no information about their neighbouring rink. Youth "turf" is pretty local all over the city.
The outside shell of the new garage is up, just the smaller door needs to be installed. Progress.
The rink is basically ready to go. The ice looks a bit thin on the hockey side but that may be an illusion because you can only look through glass. The skating trail is rough in places but definitely skateable. The new garage is going up.
Yesterday it snowed and rained alternately. So the snow is stuck on top of the pleasure-skating trail, but the covered hockey rink is clear and ready for ice-making. We assume that the trail will be hard to recover -- a tractor has obviously been on it, but the compressor-pumped cold brine pipes have stuck the snow on like glue. However, a man who had stopped his car to take a look at the rink said with satisfaction -- "there's an excellent base on the rink already." Maybe he used to build natural ice rinks, and thinks that brine-cooled rinks go by the same rules. But they don't.
When Greenwood Rink was built for over $3 million, they ran out of money before they could build zamboni garage. So they put the zamboni in the same chain-link cage it always had, only that they put up tarps and some insulation, and put in heaters. Even so, last winter was cold, and the zamboni was often frozen. Today there were workers moving in the metal prefab parts of a zamboni hangar-style garage. Some contractors were ready to start assembling, but they looked pretty cold -- minus 9 with freezing winds gusting to 70 Km. The rink is scheduled to open in four days -- getting the garage ready will be tricky.
The ice was excellent on both the covered and the uncovered side. Paths were full of unshovelled snow, though. One very young-looking rink guard outside, skating around the path, apparently not concerned about the usual large group of un-helmeted shinny players. Inside, one tired-looking young building attendant, working her cell phone behind the desk. Change room tidy but women's washroom quite messy.
Rink neighbours have been made very unhappy -- and sleepless -- by a lot of late-night hockey at Greenwood. As at all rinks, there is an automatic timer that turns the rink lights off at 11 pm, and the rink doors are padlocked shut. However, it appears that some staff or persons who got keys from staff have been returning to play hockey. The lights are turned back on and the doors are unlocked. The slapshots hit the boards and sleep is over for the neighbours. Time for the rink supervisor to lay down the law to his/her staff!