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posted January 7, 2007

City of Toronto rink information line: 416 338-7465 (RINK)

TIP: PRESS 1 AFTER YOU CONNECT, AND THAT TAKES YOU RIGHT TO THE OUTDOOR RINK MENU

or call

City-Rinks live Hotline: 416 392-0913

Please note that the individual rink pages also carry the actual individual rink phone numbers, if you want to call your favorite rink yourself.

Progress reports on the hot-line experiment

Rink staff at Dufferin Rink have been doing an experiment for the past three years: they are a real voice to welcome and encourage skaters who call, as opposed to the informative but sometimes out-of-date recorded message provided centrally by the city.

This is still an experiment because this service is not official -- it was the idea of the Dufferin Rink staff, and it's carried out with the informal co-operation of the city rinks supervisors, and staff at other rinks. They call in any changes in rink conditions as they occur. Dufferin Rink staff Amy Withers gives a report on how this experiment is going:

Dec.27 2006, from Amy Withers

"The rink hotline (416-392-0913) is a hotline for inclement weather and day to day information service about the public outdoor (city run) rinks in the south district (old city of Toronto and East York).

We also answer many questions from new skaters including what it costs to skate, locations of rinks, schedules of rinks, contact information for rinks and of course the quality of the ice in rainy or snowy weather."

Dufferin staff kept a record for an hour to count the calls. On Wednesday December 27 from 10am to 11am, Dufferin Rink staff answered 31 phone calls.

Call Requests: Nathan Phillip Square: 51% Dufferin Rink: 19% East End: 16% West end (excluding Dufferin): 11% Skate sharpening services: 2% Etobicoke: 2%

Feb.23 2007, from Jutta Mason to all Dufferin Rink staff

Keeping the city hot line up to date in bad weather (for Toronto and East York) is certainly an interesting task. It's great that Kelly has now given Dufferin staff the password. The last two days were a good test: Wednesday with 4 degrees and bright sun, Thursday with that heavy wet snow for three hours in the morning.

The tricky bits: 1. staff couldn't get hold of Bill Coombs until he called and told her to press the "alert" button on the radio 2. Dufferin Rink staff hadn't all had a chance to find out the step-by-step 3. conflicting information. E.g. the first message said that Rosedale was one of the first rinks open, and that Kew was open from 12.30, but it turned out that the plow (or zamboni) broke down at Kew when it was only half done, and at 7.30 pm Dexter told me that Rosedale was still not open. 4. Plus it's maybe a good idea not to be too optimistic -- e.g. the 12.30 report said that Wallace was almost done and so it was listed as open, but Manny told me he thought they got done at 4. So it might be best to wait until a rink is really open, rather than try to predict the progress.

It's only been two days since the attempt to get bad-weather updates directly onto the City hotline, and I'm sure these bugs will be worked out.

The biggest boon would be if Kelly can gain the cooperation of individual rinks, to call Dufferin and update you. As you know, I visited quite a few rinks yesterday afternoon: Christie, Harry Gairey, City Hall, Ryerson, Regent South, Woodbine, Monarch, Withrow, Jimmie Simpson, Trinity, and Wallace. All of them had staff on site and all those staff looked like they would have time to call Dufferin. So if they get rink management's encouragement to call Dufferin, that would make the rink hotline information even more current. (Note also that Regent South's phone line is now partly repaired -- they can call out, but they can't get incoming calls)

Feb.23 2007, from Mayssan Shuja to all Dufferin Rink staff

From my end, I'm ensuring that 3 to 4 staff will be knowledgeable about how to change the city's message, with Lea as the lead. It's true that sometimes it's tricky to call Rink Supervisors every half hour to find out if a rink is done yet. It would be helpful for Recreation staff to get into the habit of calling us if there are delays to opening or if closing is confirmed. A reminder from supervisors might help.

Feb.25 from Amy Withers to all Dufferin Rink staff

It was my call to be optimistic about some of those rinks. With Kew I was told half the story and then later the whole story. I changed the message once I heard the whole story about the broken equipment.

I think that we need to recognize on snow days that a) staff say they are open when they are there being paid and there is snow on the rink so we have to ask "is the snow cleared" and b) DO we think a rink is 'open' when it is cleared of snow or when the zamboni has resurfaced it, I think that on a day like Thursday the ice was fine under the snow. ??

I called every rink more than 4 times and as everyone knows Scott and Bill were hard to get a hold of. We have the wrong phone numbers for Monarch and Regent North is somehow half a fax machine and we don't have the number for south regent and what do we do with the former-Toronto rinks (Otter, North Toronto, Rennie, High park, JJP)

Feb.24 from Jutta Mason to all Dufferin Rink staff

When the snow is wet and heavy as it was last Thursday, the rinks can't be opened after the plow has come, because the plow compresses the wet snow and then it freezes into very bad bumps. When I went to all those rinks on Thursday, some of them had been plowed hours before but they were truly bad, and closed. If those folks had gone out with green shovels the minute the plow was finished, those rinks might have had a chance, but it would have been a big job and talking to your friends on the phone is more fun. Plus that's pretty hard work for $7.83 an hour.(Time to do a bonus on pay if green shovels are being used?!!?)

So I think it would still be good to wait until the "all clear" before logging any rink as open. Now that you guys know the secret "alert" button on the east radio-phone, it should be much easier to get information, not so frustrating.

Maybe it would be good to do a real "pilot" after March 4, when there are only a few rinks left open and those staff can be instructed (by Kelvin?) to call you reliably.

CityRinks website requests (here!), by week, November 2006 - March 2007

posted April 02, 2007

About 41,000 page requests overall.


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