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2013-2014

Newsletter from City Councillor Josh Matlow, March 2014

Significant Progress Made Toward Keeping Hodgson Rink Open!

The Hodgson ice rink is closed this year as a result of two ammonia leaks in two years. Components at a facility like Hodgson have a life cycle of 15-20 years. The Hodgson rink is now over 30 years old. There is no doubt that the rink's infrastructure needs to be completely replaced.

With the rink closed, I worked closely with many dedicated parents to build a natural ice rink nearby. While this rink has been a great success, it does not replace having a reliable artificial rink in our neighbourhood.

The land on which the rink is located is owned by the TDSB. The City earmarked $2 million toward the Hodgson rink in its 2014 capital budget and is ready to begin construction. However, TDSB staff was only willing to commit that their property will remain a rink for 10 years to keep their options open for future uses, which is insufficient for a capital investment of this size.

I worked with Trustee Laskin to ensure that City and TDSB staff were focussed on arriving at a resolution rather than the obstacles in their way.

I am delighted to report that there has been significant progress made by the City and the TDSB toward an agreement. The City is now moving forward with tendering a contract to refurbish and upgrade the rink. The facility will continue to be located at Hodgson Senior Public School and, barring any unknown construction, the rink will most likely be ready for the 2014/2015 winter season.

To the parents and residents who have advocated for our local rink, I can tell you that not only were your voices heard, they were instrumental in what we've achieved.

Once again, when our community has been presented with a challenge we've successfully faced it together.

November 2013 Newsletter from City Councillor Josh Matlow and Parks Manager Bob Crump: Why Hodgson Rink is closed for this whole season:

Dear Residents,

I'm writing to you because you have expressed interest in Hodgson ice rink. Please feel very welcome to share this with your neighbours.

I have received an email from Bob Crump, a District Manager of Parks with the City of Toronto, about the state of repair and future of the Hodgson outdoor ice rink. Keeping you informed is a priority for me so I am sharing his message in full with you. I know this is not a reality that any of us would choose but it would be irresponsible to ignore the safety concerns raised by City staff. I am also very disappointed that the timing of the upgrades to the rink was impacted by the TDSB's inability to commit to a long-term lease with the City of Toronto earlier in the year.

Thank you to everyone who joined me at my public meeting on October 21. I look forward to meeting with a group of community volunteers soon to work together on creating a local natural rink for this season to ensure that our kids have a place to skate until the rink re-opens in 2014.Pl

ease feel very welcome to contact me if you have any questions, at 416 392-7906 or [email protected]

Sincerely,

Josh

From Park manager Bob Crump

Hello Councillor

Thanks for your call yesterday afternoon. I appreciate that the Hodgson outdoor rink is highly valued by your constituents and they are concerned about having it out of commission this winter.

Unfortunately, Hodgson AIR (artificial ice rink) has been living on borrowed time for quite a while and issues with the rink have finally come to a head. The rink was built in 1980. It is now 32 years old and most of its physical components have 15 to 20 year life expectancies. These components are beginning to fail and its deteriorating condition does not make it feasible to operate the rink in its current state any longer, for both financial and health and safety reasons. The rink must be rebuilt. PFR has earmarked approximately $2M capital funds for this project, with construction beginning in 2014. The City requires a minimum 20 year agreement from the TDSB in order to justify this investment.

The City originally scheduled reconstruction of the rink in its 2005 capital plan and requested a 20 year renewal of the shared use agreement for the right to renovate and use the AIR located on TDSB property at 282 Davisville Avenue. TDSB did not take action on the proposal. We asked again in 2008, again to no avail. We asked again in February this year after we experienced a minor ammonia leak (the second in two years - one from a leaking pipe in the floor) and were advised it would cost over $50,000 to remove and replace the 6,000 lbs of ammonia in the system in order to replace the major valve that had failed and caused the leak. The refrigeration mechanics who work on our equipment expressed real fear that they didn't know where the next issue was going to crop up and were concerned for both their safety and that of the public, particularly the children in the adjacent school.

After much foot dragging on the part of the TDSB, and much prodding from parks staff, it appears we finally have their approval to extend our shared use for another 20 years. However, we still do not have official confirmation that this has been approved by their board. Nevertheless, PFR staff have been diligently working on the design for the rebuilt facility with the expectation that it will be forthcoming and that we will be able to begin construction early in 2014.

But the fact of the matter is that we cannot continue to apply bandaids to this facility. The rink is the last of the antiquated, old style direct ammonia plants in the city. Piping in the floor is encased in concrete and its condition cannot be assessed. Given its age and the recent history of ammonia leaks, it can be assumed that the likelihood of another, possibly greater leak, is high. Something else could fail at any time. At worst, a dangerous ammonia leak could occur and pose serious health and safety risks to staff, school kids, area residents and patrons.

The new rink will offer residents a safe clean facility for many years to come. It's unfortunate that it took us so long to get here and that it will be out of commission for one winter but in the interests of public safety, I'm not prepared to run these risks and I don't think area residents should be either.

Regards

Bob Crump Manager, Parks


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