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Welcome to The Unofficial Website of Toronto's Outdoor Skating Rinks

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This rink is not operated by the City of Toronto

Harbourfront Natrel Rink Profile

200 hp compressor power plus 50 hp brine pump. Still the same compressors from 1983, but new chiller in 2015.

Opened: November 24, 2016
Closing: TBA

Rink change area: Locker rooms with plenty of seating and skate rental area. Clean, simple. There are rubber mats leading to a restaurant (rubber flooring throughout) above the change rooms, with a big selection of food and drinks. Many people change outside on benches or sitting on the long ledge that surrounds the rink. There's also an outdoor warming area with wind shelter and fireplaces, but the fires are only lit on weekends, no matter how cold the weather.

Staff: Polite and attentive.

Helmet Policy: None.

Maintenance: Excellent. Olympia ice resurfacer goes on the ice frequently. Webcam

Here is a Youtube video/slide show about why the ice maintenance at Harbourfront works better than that done by the municipal crews.

Public Skating and shinny hockey:

Pleasure-skating: All the time during open hours.

Shinny hockey: Only after the rink change area closes late at night (there's no fence around this rink). But security staff will stop any games they find -- pucks have broken a window here and there, and it's too expensive.


Comments about this rink: e-mail us at rinkissues@cityrinks.ca.

 

Rink Diary

2016 - 2017

Dec.1, 2016

At 9 p.m. it looks like a fair number of people are skating, somewhat in the dark -- lights not turned on. Odd.

Nov.25, 2016

The website lists the rink as open. Now they just need to clean the webcam lens :-)

Nov.24, 2016,

Although the website still says the rink will open mid-to-late November, the webcam at 7.30 a.m. shows skaters, looking like they're having a good time. A phone call at 10 a.m. confirms that their rink is open and the ice is good.

Nov.23, 2016, 8 pm

The machine is out making ice.

Nov.22, 2016

They write that they hope to open by Friday. (Really? Not until then, with this cold weather?) Ice maintenance happening after dark. Note that Mississauga's main outdoor rink downtown is open and has lots of skaters. Is Harbourfront losing its edge? Today their web page still has an old message saying they'll open mid-to-end of November, and their phone message says "closed for the season, see you next year."

Nov.21 2016

From Russ Minaker: "at the Harbourfront Natrel Rink, they made an attempt in early November. At the time they were saying they were going to try to open Nov 15th. I saw their Olympia machine working on it on November 4th I believe it was. But then we got that warm spell."

Tonight their webcam shows a good sheet of ice in, Olympia flooding at 11 p.m.


 

Rink Diaries from earlier years

2015 - 2016

March 3-10, 2016

The rink closed on March 10. It struggled during the last week in particular, with parts of days, or near the end the whole day, being closed. The zamboni did hours of ice maintenance on the 9th but you could see the coolant lines in the ice pattern. So on the 10th, right after a school class that skated in the rain, the closure announcement was put up.


March 9, 8.30 pm -- zamboni trying again

temporary "closed" sign turned into closed for the season
 
Feb.20, 2016

Last DJ event (first one was Dec.19). Smart scheduling, given the likelihood that the ice will be affected by the higher sun as March approaches, and the fact that people's enthusiasm for skating wanes as winter nears its end.

Jan.11, 2016

Since the rink closed for one day, it has not been closed again (during regular hours), even though the weather has given some challenges.

Dec.29, 2015

The rink has been closed all day and will not re-open until tomorrow. The zamboni has been cleaning the ice all day, and the staff say it's still too soft for skating. At 10 pm the webcam still shows the zamboni grooming the ice.

Dec.27, 2015

The rink was closed again for a few hours on Dec.24, but open for scheduled hours since then. Ice was fine.

Dec.23, 2015

This afternoon, it looks like the rink was closed (bright sun, 14 celsius). By 7 pm there were skaters, and at 10.30 pm there are more skaters, in the dark.

Dec.22, 2015

At 11 pm, the rink's webcam shows a lot of people skating in the dark.

Dec.19 2015

First DJ skating party of the year.

Dec.18 2015

Today the rink was filled with skaters, even though it was cloudy and windy.

We found out that not only the skate lending, but also the restaurant, are run directly by Harbourfront, not outsourced. This is the opposite of the rink at City Hall (Nathan Phillips Square) where both food and skates are outsourced. And at City Hall there are not enough places to sit, either outside or in the tiny change room. In contrast, Harbourfront has large numbers of benches outside and also skate-friendly flooring in its restaurant. That room was full today too, youthful skaters (also from schools?) eating and talking and just lounging on the available couches, in their skates. Like a comfortable clubhouse.


lots of menu items, rubber flooring

comfortable couches for watching the skaters
 
Dec.12 2015

The rink was sparse under dark skies in the morning but then by evening it was full of skaters -- and again at 11.45 pm there were many people skating around in the semi-dark.

Dec.11, 2015

Even though it was a warm, sunny day, this rink kept its ice very well. Just before midnight after the zamboni was done, it appeared from the webcam that there were at least 40 people skating, in the semi-dark. Very nice.

Dec.5, 2015

rink guard said: "sure, take pictures!"

An article in the Toronto Star says that on Dec.4, a Star reporter was barred from taking pictures of his own children skating at Colonel Sam Smith skating trail. But happily, no such rule exists at Harbourfront's Natrel Rink. Neither does it exist at City Hall's rink. They have a sign saying that people can film or take pictures there. But all other city rinks treat cameras as contraband.


friendly skate loans

skating lessons

Everything seems easier and less rule-bound at this non-municipal rink. Helmets are not mandatory for anyone, but helmet rentals are available. Staff who are good enough to teach skating don't wear helmets, although the learners do. At municipal rinks, helmets are mandatory for all on-ice staff, sending the message -- "skating is dangerous."

The in-house skate loan program (outsourced at City Hall) used to pay for the entire rink operation. That may not be true anymore; we'll ask the manager and report back.

 
Dec.4, 2015

The webcam showed people skating on Friday Nov.27 (opening day) after the rain had stopped. And it's been very well attended ever since.

Nov.23 2015, 2.30 pm

lots of ice already

The ice is already good and solid, thicker than on opening day in some other years. Mats are not out yet, and it looks like there's still maintenance going on in the skate rental room. Staff said they started flooding on Friday night. They were getting ready to install some propane heaters in the former firebox areas -- they said it's cheaper to buy propane than to buy firewood.

Sadly, the webcam is still broken -- something the rink staff only realized yesterday.


mats not out yet

maintenance still going on in skate room

The staff said they hope to open the rink on Friday afternoon after they've had a chance to push off the rain that's forecast for Thursday night.

 

Views of the rink

 

Schedule 2015-2016

Hours of operation:

Monday10am - 10pm
Tuesday10am - 10pmWednesday10am - 10pmThursday10am - 10pm Friday10am - 11pmSaturday10am - 11pmSunday10am - 10pm

posted December 10, 2014


check out the website for updates
 

posted on December 09, 2009

Synthetic ice means year round skating at Harbourfront Centre

New Toronto rink has eco-friendly and cost-effective benefits

By: Nicole Mcisaac
Published: 04 December 2009
Source: The Daily Planet

Harbourfront centre in downtown Toronto is installing a synthetic ice rink that will not only last 20 years, but will allow for summer skating. Robert Hodichak, Artifical Grass and Landscaping (AGL) sales rep said there is a 98 per cent resemblance to real ice.

AGL is the company that is installing the polyolefin rink today. The compressed plastic comes in one by two metre panels that have a tongue-and-groove construction and a notched hole that will keep the panels in place and prevent expansion or shifting.

Read more >>

 

Harbourfront Rink Diary 2014 - 2015

2016 - 2017

Dec.1, 2016

At 9 p.m. it looks like a fair number of people are skating, somewhat in the dark -- lights not turned on. Odd.

Nov.25, 2016

The website lists the rink as open. Now they just need to clean the webcam lens :-)

Nov.24, 2016,

Although the website still says the rink will open mid-to-late November, the webcam at 7.30 a.m. shows skaters, looking like they're having a good time. A phone call at 10 a.m. confirms that their rink is open and the ice is good.

Nov.23, 2016, 8 pm

The machine is out making ice.

Nov.22, 2016

They write that they hope to open by Friday. (Really? Not until then, with this cold weather?) Ice maintenance happening after dark. Note that Mississauga's main outdoor rink downtown is open and has lots of skaters. Is Harbourfront losing its edge? Today their web page still has an old message saying they'll open mid-to-end of November, and their phone message says "closed for the season, see you next year."

Nov.21 2016

From Russ Minaker: "at the Harbourfront Natrel Rink, they made an attempt in early November. At the time they were saying they were going to try to open Nov 15th. I saw their Olympia machine working on it on November 4th I believe it was. But then we got that warm spell."

Tonight their webcam shows a good sheet of ice in, Olympia flooding at 11 p.m.


 

Rink Diaries from earlier years

2015 - 2016

March 3-10, 2016

The rink closed on March 10. It struggled during the last week in particular, with parts of days, or near the end the whole day, being closed. The zamboni did hours of ice maintenance on the 9th but you could see the coolant lines in the ice pattern. So on the 10th, right after a school class that skated in the rain, the closure announcement was put up.


March 9, 8.30 pm -- zamboni trying again

temporary "closed" sign turned into closed for the season
 
Feb.20, 2016

Last DJ event (first one was Dec.19). Smart scheduling, given the likelihood that the ice will be affected by the higher sun as March approaches, and the fact that people's enthusiasm for skating wanes as winter nears its end.

Jan.11, 2016

Since the rink closed for one day, it has not been closed again (during regular hours), even though the weather has given some challenges.

Dec.29, 2015

The rink has been closed all day and will not re-open until tomorrow. The zamboni has been cleaning the ice all day, and the staff say it's still too soft for skating. At 10 pm the webcam still shows the zamboni grooming the ice.

Dec.27, 2015

The rink was closed again for a few hours on Dec.24, but open for scheduled hours since then. Ice was fine.

Dec.23, 2015

This afternoon, it looks like the rink was closed (bright sun, 14 celsius). By 7 pm there were skaters, and at 10.30 pm there are more skaters, in the dark.

Dec.22, 2015

At 11 pm, the rink's webcam shows a lot of people skating in the dark.

Dec.19 2015

First DJ skating party of the year.

Dec.18 2015

Today the rink was filled with skaters, even though it was cloudy and windy.

We found out that not only the skate lending, but also the restaurant, are run directly by Harbourfront, not outsourced. This is the opposite of the rink at City Hall (Nathan Phillips Square) where both food and skates are outsourced. And at City Hall there are not enough places to sit, either outside or in the tiny change room. In contrast, Harbourfront has large numbers of benches outside and also skate-friendly flooring in its restaurant. That room was full today too, youthful skaters (also from schools?) eating and talking and just lounging on the available couches, in their skates. Like a comfortable clubhouse.


lots of menu items, rubber flooring

comfortable couches for watching the skaters
 
Dec.12 2015

The rink was sparse under dark skies in the morning but then by evening it was full of skaters -- and again at 11.45 pm there were many people skating around in the semi-dark.

Dec.11, 2015

Even though it was a warm, sunny day, this rink kept its ice very well. Just before midnight after the zamboni was done, it appeared from the webcam that there were at least 40 people skating, in the semi-dark. Very nice.

Dec.5, 2015

rink guard said: "sure, take pictures!"

An article in the Toronto Star says that on Dec.4, a Star reporter was barred from taking pictures of his own children skating at Colonel Sam Smith skating trail. But happily, no such rule exists at Harbourfront's Natrel Rink. Neither does it exist at City Hall's rink. They have a sign saying that people can film or take pictures there. But all other city rinks treat cameras as contraband.


friendly skate loans

skating lessons

Everything seems easier and less rule-bound at this non-municipal rink. Helmets are not mandatory for anyone, but helmet rentals are available. Staff who are good enough to teach skating don't wear helmets, although the learners do. At municipal rinks, helmets are mandatory for all on-ice staff, sending the message -- "skating is dangerous."

The in-house skate loan program (outsourced at City Hall) used to pay for the entire rink operation. That may not be true anymore; we'll ask the manager and report back.

 
Dec.4, 2015

The webcam showed people skating on Friday Nov.27 (opening day) after the rain had stopped. And it's been very well attended ever since.

Nov.23 2015, 2.30 pm

lots of ice already

The ice is already good and solid, thicker than on opening day in some other years. Mats are not out yet, and it looks like there's still maintenance going on in the skate rental room. Staff said they started flooding on Friday night. They were getting ready to install some propane heaters in the former firebox areas -- they said it's cheaper to buy propane than to buy firewood.

Sadly, the webcam is still broken -- something the rink staff only realized yesterday.


mats not out yet

maintenance still going on in skate room

The staff said they hope to open the rink on Friday afternoon after they've had a chance to push off the rain that's forecast for Thursday night.

 

Harbourfront Rink Diary 2013 - 2014

2013-2014


looking west
Dec.21 2013

At 8.30 pm, it's pouring rain, and still there are lots of skaters.

Nov.22 2013

No matter what the weather, there always seem to be skaters on the ice at Harbourfront.

 
Nov.18 2013

Despite that warm weather yesterday, up to 14 degrees, and the heavy rains last night (12 mm), the ice is fine this morning and the rink is open.

 
Nov.17 2013

Forecast is for lots of rain and the high today was 14 but even so, at 6.45 there's a goodly number of skaters on the rink. Rain hasn't begun yet and the rink never had to close down even for a short time.

 
Nov.16 2013

The rink opened this morning but shut down for the afternoon -- 10 degrees and sunny. However by 6 pm it was open again. Packed with skaters all evening.

 
Tuesday November 12 2013

Ice-making is going well. Staff said they started on Sunday.

There is a big sign for a new activity this winter: Thursday skate/wing/beer nights. So European, the idea that people could drink a beer in a public place and not fall down drunk or cause a "safety hazard" for other people. On a chilly night, a beer and some wings upstairs from the restaurant, and then an exhilarating skate to follow up -- that might become very popular.


ice-making well underway

Sign: Thursday wing/skate/beer nights

most mats already laid out

skate rental room
 

Rink Diary 2012-2013
Diary 2011 - 2012
Diary 2010 - 2011
Diary 2008-2009
Diary 2007 - 2008
Diary 2006 - 2007
Diary 2005 - 2006


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Content last modified on November 26, 2016, at 07:46 PM EST