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Lots of people are starting to think about ice skating (temperature at 10 pm: -2 celsius). The rink hotline says only that all outdoor rinks are closed for the 08/09 season -- no message about opening dates.
Still no update on the rink hotline. The new 3-1-1 service say they have received no updated information from Parks staff.
Cityrinks.ca sent e-mails to 14 councillors who have earlier-opening rinks, asking them if they planned to publicize the rink openings, and if they would urge Parks staff to do the same. Councillor Grimes' office said they would be publicizing this and Councillor Ford called to say he had been told by general manager Brenda Patterson that it was being taken care of.
Fourteen rinks are due to open in 8 days, but the rink hotline still has the closing message from last season. 311 staff have only the information that "outdoor rinks will run from December to March." One 311 caller told us that she was told that City Hall rink would be opening in mid-December. A guess?
The hotline is now updated to the point of telling callers which 14 rinks are opening on Nov.21. The message invites callers to press 1, 2,3, or 4 depending what rinks they want to hear more about, but pressing any of those numbers yields only "not a valid option."
The 311 people have still not received any specific update from PF&R, but they now read off the city web site to tell which rinks open when. They have received no individual rink phone numbers.
At 6.45 a.m. the 24-hour hotline does not allow the caller access to any outdoor information, just the general helmet information. There's no way to skip that message "sorry that's not a valid option," and when you wait to the end and it says press 1 for outdoor rinks, that yields "Sorry you're having trouble, please try again."
8 a.m. big improvement! The line again allows the caller to skip to outdoor rinks and then to select an individual rinks. The voice sounds pleasant, the information is clear and thorough for many of the rinks.
Individual rinks are updated for Toronto/East York and Etobicoke, not for North York yet. The message for Albert Campbell Rink in Scarborough is that they are now open -- a very friendly sounding message, but incorrect. At the end of the message there`s a silence. If you press 1 again, you get a different message, saying the rink opens Dec.1. But there`s still no mention of how to return to the main menu. (Hint: press star.)
At the very end of every updated rink message, there's a phone number. Some give the rink and some give the nearest community centre.
At 1.30 pm, 311 information said that all city outdoor rinks are closed. At 5.50 pm, 311 gave the same information. At 7.20, the 311 operator read off an e-mail sent at 7.48 a.m., saying that Nathan Philips Square rink would most likely be open all day. Confusion!
Although Dufferin Rink has been open and busy since last Sunday, and the same goes for Nathan Philips Square, the hotline message says that they hope to have City Hall open on the 21st and they regret that the other rinks will have to be delayed, opening as the weather allows. The 311 line has the same information, with only the additional piece that Hodgson Rink is closed.
The website rink pages have the same message as the hotline, also out of date. An e-mail to the recreation staff, to let them know their hotline message is out of date, elicits no response.
A hat trick today: (1) the old (and wrong) message about outdoor rinks is on the hotline, (2) the website, and (3) at 311 the operator said that Nathan Philips Square is open but the ice is soft because of the warm weather (6 degrees), but no other rinks are open. I asked to speak to a 311 supervisor about this but I just got voice mail.
It's Saturday, but the hotline message is still not updated from a week ago. 311 say they have had no updates either, but the pleasant operator tells me she's sure that Nathan Philips is open because she walked by there today. She thinks Hodgson is open, looking at an older message, but no other rinks. She gives me the phone number that she has for Hodgson, but it turns out it's just for the community centre in that area. The person answering the phone says that that she's sure Hodgson Rink is closed because the weather is too warm. I ask for the direct rink phone number, but she says she doesn't have it. Even if she did have it, she says, she would not give it to me because they are not allowed to give it out.
The city website page for rinks has also not been updated since a week ago. Remarkable.
The 311 operator switched me to their supervisor's voice mail and I left another message there, suggesting that she might want to give a nudge to Parks and Rec.
The city website is still from Nov.21. At 2 pm the rink hotline has no answer at all (still better than wrong info). 311 had been updated from the West region, i.e. they knew that both West Mall and Rennie have their hockey sides open. But they had received no information from the other regions, and they were still unaware that Dufferin has been open all week.
At 2.20 the rink hotline was back in answering mode -- but with the same out-of-date information as before.
E-mail to Malcolm Bromley, director of Recreation, with a cc to Brenda Patterson, general manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and to 311 Toronto.
"Hello -- despite my repeated efforts to let your staff know that the hotline and the city website rink info page have had the wrong information about the outdoor rinks for more than a week now, up to this moment no change has been made. The people at 311 also seem to be lacking information.
Who can address this?"
Within a few minutes, an email came back from Brenda Patterson's office: "I have asked for this to be reviewed and resolved"
At 7 pm, the 311 line was updated, and the out-of-date delay information had been replaced by a general message, also referring the viewer to the 311 line. The rink hotline still had the out-of-date message on it. But there's progress.
The 311 number refers callers to the rink hotline, which now gives information up to today and advises calling 311 "for current status of outdoor rinks."
The outdoor rink website page refers callers to 311, which refers callers to the rink hotline. For skaters who want to get an outdoor rink permit, there is no specific permit number but there is a link called "search for available ice time" which gets you to the "Fun Guide," giving another link called "Facility Availability Search." But that link only has indoor arena information.
The rink hotline has been updated to include Sunnydale Rink (open). It doesn't mention that only the hockey sides of West Mall and Rennie Rink are open.
Official opening day for all city rinks, but at 1 pm the rink hotline still has the information from two days ago. 311 have been told that Prince of Wales, Martingrove, Trinity and Rosedale are closed. They have not been told that Otter Creek, Campbell, High Park, Ryerson, College Park, Withrow, Glen Long, Irving Chapley, or Ledbury are closed, or that Ramsden and Harry Gairey are closed on the hockey sides. 311 recommended calling the rink hotline to find out more.
But at 9 pm, the same outdated message from two days ago is still on the rink hotline.
At 1 pm, the rink hotline has been updated. It says that "for current status of rinks, please call 311." However, the 311 line has information that does not entirely match the information from individual rinks. For example, it says that Glen Long and Irving Chapley are open, but those rinks said yesterday they would open on Monday. When I question the information, the operator suggests calling the rink hotline. But the hotline has no opening date information.
The hotline has schedules for Ryerson and College Park rinks, although both are said to be closed indefinitely. The hotline also offers an option for rink information for Robert Street Rink, which has been closed for about 15 years. It's no wonder, then, that when you press "2" you get "this is not a valid option."
In the last few days, as most of the rinks have opened, the information has been improving. But last night was a storm that involved both snow and rain. This morning all the rinks were closed, but during the course of the day, some of the rinks opened. At 7.30 pm the 311 line had what sounded like the right information for Toronto/East York, but there had been no updates for Etobicoke or North York since early in the morning.
According to the website, the buildings are closed at every outdoor rink on the three statutory holidays.
The 311 line says that only two city rinks are open, but Wallace, Dufferin and Campbell Rinks are also open (previously scheduled Recreation staff worked with volunteers to shovel the snow off).
311 says that all rinks are open except for some closed for the weather (Albert Campbell Square, Hodgson, and North Toronto). They also say that Christie Rink is closed, and that they received word on Dec.14 that it would be closed for all the stat holidays, despite what the Parks director wrote on Dec.18.
On Family Day (February 15) rinks and building are open 9am - 9pm at Greenwood, Hodgson, Rennie, Dufferin Grove and Wallace rinks. The rest of the rinks have their buildings open only from 9am to 5pm, but all rink surfaces are open until 10 pm.
Family Day - February 15, 2010
Artificial Ice Rinks and Arenas Schedule, the schedules for Dufferin,Wallace and Campbell are incorrect on the city's website. These rinks will operate regular MONDAY weekday schedules.
Final posting on home page (announcement in red) for Thursday evening: Outdoor rink ice conditions 7.30 pm Thursday: West Mall and all other Etobicoke outdoor rinks are OPEN. All west-central rinks are OPEN, ice is good. All East-Central rinks are CLOSED. Mel Lastman and all other NY rinks are CLOSED except for Otter Creek, which is OPEN, and Broadlands, which will be open at 8.45. High Park Rink and College Park Rink are CLOSED indefinitely for technical problems.
Otter Creek opened the hockey side at 7.30, ice is good. Irving Chapley is closed -- too much water. Broadlands -- water on but will be ready for the 8.45 and 10 pm permit. Glen Long: no answer.
The 392-1111 line person says that all North York rinks are closed "due to the weather." She seems surprised to hear that the rinks (below) are open. The person answering the North Toronto Rink line says of course it's closed, it's too warm. The person answering the Otter Creek Rink line says their zamboni operator is booked off sick and that the daytime operator was only able to get the pleasure-skating side clear of water.
All west-central rinks are OPEN, ice is good. East-Central rinks are listed as closed. Rennie Rink is OPEN, good ice. High Park Rink (compressor room flooded) and College Park Rink are CLOSED indefinitely for technical problems.
When you call Access Toronto, they connect you with the Parks and Rec information line, 416 392-1111, and that person calls the permit officer to find out which Etobicoke rinks are open. Answer: West Mall and all other Etobicoke rinks are OPEN.
A person at Ledbury Rink in North York answered their phone and said they wouldn't be open until Saturday because outdoor rinks are covered in water. Access Toronto said that Mel Lastman and Albert Campbell are both covered in water.
The rink "hotline" reports the following central-Toronto rinks are open (water removed, ice fine): Wallace, Campbell, Dufferin, Christie Pits, Trinity, Harry Gairey, Ramsden, Rosedale, and City Hall.
A bright sunny day, high of 4. A lot of the rinks began to get mushy by 2 pm, which is early in the season for the bright-sun effect. At 11.30 pm the "hotline" for central Toronto said that Monarch, Dieppe, Withrow, and Regent North rinks were all closed. "All other rinks are currently open. The hotline is updated daily."
But it didn't say the time of the recording. Ramsden was closed y 3 as far as we know. Hard to know about the others.
E-mail from Recreation supervisor Wendy Jang, in response to a cityrinks.ca comment that the "hotline" does not have current weather-related information.
I stand corrected: the rink hot-line does not have weather-related rink closure info on voice mail for the outdoor rinks.
However the rink hotline has been updated with telephone numbers on-site at each North York District rink. A skater who is in doubt can call the site and when the rink is open, a rink operator or building attendant will be able to provide current information about rink conditions and closures. This is a change in the previous voice mail information, and we hope that it will be helpful on those days when the conditions are in doubt (bad weather, warm weather, etc) Thank you for drawing this to our attention.
E-mail from Recreation supervisor Wendy Jang, in response to a cityrinks.ca forwarded e-mail about difficulty finding out North Toronto ice conditions:
If you are calling 416-338-RINKS, the rink hotline, you should....get current information. Any changes to ice conditions are recorded on the rink hotline voice mail.
Most rinks are snow-covered and unsuitable for hockey. The "rink hotline" just has its standard scheduling message, no weather-related updates. Very few rinks are answering their phones. Gone home?
The message from 6 pm last night was still on the city's "rink hotline" at 8 a.m. but it was removed soon after.
Rinks that are now open: Dufferin Grove (hockey side only), Ramsden (hockey side only), Campbell, Christie, Trinity, Kew. The city's "rink hotline" says Wallace Rink is also open but it isn't, and it doesn't mention that Christie is open, but it is. Rennie Rink (the Etobicoke ice maintenance standard) is open and all permits are going on.
The City "rink hotline" says that City Hall rink is open and all others in Central Toronto ("South District") are still closed for snow removal. No information available for rinks in Etobicoke or North York.
The City "rink hotline" had some day-old information for 1.30 pm on Dec.31, but no information about what rinks were open on New Year's Day (many were closed). So cityrinks.ca ran this announcement on the home page:
Looking for some outdoor skating for the holiday today? Here is the City of Toronto holiday schedule: outdoor rinks open on New Year's Day
Some of the information about individual rinks was wrong, but at least the city's web page said which rinks would be open.
According to the City's "rink hotline," all central rinks except Withrow were open. They said Withrow was closed due to flooding of the clubhouse.
However, many other central rinks were unskateable because they had so much water on them and it appears that only the Rennie Rink staff used the zamboni to remove the water.
4 pm: City's "rink hotline": Central-west has information: Riverdale, Jimmie Simpson, Monarch and College Park are closed for the day. But Campbell and Trinity are once again open. No zamboni for Wallace, plow only (partial).
12 noon: City's "rink hotline" has only normal scheduling information. Some west-central rinks that are not yet open: Trinity, Campbell, Wallace Rink. There must be more not open but no word about them.
City staff updated the message on the City's "rink hotline," giving some (not all) of the rinks that were accessible for skating.
Outdoor rinks that cityrinks.ca has visited or checked with front-line staff and confirmed OPEN:City Hall, Harry Gairey, Dufferin, Wallace, Rennie, Otter Creek, Hodgson, Rosedale, Ramsden, Ryerson, College Park, and High Park Rinks.
Although only City Hall has ice maintenance staff on duty, the compressors have frozen last night's rain into beautiful smooth ice. It's likely that many east-central outdoor rinks are also open but the change rooms are closed and there are no rinks staff to confirm.
The City's "rink hotline" still has yesterday's 'bad weather' information. The staff who have the password to update it are on holiday.
Rinks confirmed CLOSED: Trinity, Christie and Campbell (slush and snow frozen onto ice, none of the three were cleared yesterday) and Giovanni Caboto (excellent ice but rink locked).
Since neither the City's "rink hotline" nor the City's website tell which rinks are open for Christmas, cityrinks.ca tried other ways to find out. Access Toronto (416 338-0338) has a real person answering the phone from 8 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. At 1 pm on Dec.24, an Access Toronto agent said that he thought only City Hall (Nathan Phillips Square) Rink would be open on Christmas Day. But he wasn't totally sure, so he connected us to a direct Parks and Recreation line. That person said that NO outdoor rinks would be open in Etobicoke, North Toronto, or Scarborough, but that quite a few outdoor rinks would be open in central Toronto, in addition to City Hall:
Campbell, College Park, Dufferin, Christie, Greenwood, Harry Gairey, Jimmie Simpson, Monarch, Riverdale, Ryerson, Wallace Emerson, and Withrow.
This may only mean that the gates are unlocked, since it appears that there will be NO ice maintenance for any rinks except City Hall.
.....Unless it turns out that the original November plan is still in place, when the City outdoor rinks manager said that City Hall, Mel Lastman (North York Civic), and Albert Campbell Rinks (Scarborough Civic) would get maintenance at Christmas.
The rinks that will for sure have recreation staff present to welcome skaters on Christmas Day, besides City Hall, are Dufferin Rink and Wallace Rink.
Updates will be posted as we find out more.
According to the city hotline, rinks now open are all those below plus Harry Gairey and Wallace.
Rinks now open: Central Toronto East: Regent South, Withrow, Monarch, Greenwood, Kew, Dieppe. Downtown: City Hall. West: Dufferin, Ramsden. (Verbal communication from "hotline" staff or direct from rinks -- not posted yet.)
Closed for sure: High Park, Scadding (until 3 pm or later), Christie, Campbell, Trinity. No other information available.
According to the City Rink hotline, the following rinks are open: Kew, Greenwood, Monarch and Regent South.
No weather-related information is available from Etobicoke, North York, or Scarborough rinks.
Added on the city's rink "hotline": Kew, Dufferin (Hockey pad only), and Wallace Rinks are also open. Not on the "hotline" -- Campbell Rink got no maintenance but skaters shoveled out part of the rink themselves.
City rink "hotline" message: The following rinks are open: City Hall, Greenwood, Withrow, Regent South, Jimmie Simpson, Harry Gairey, Ramsden, and Christie.
A site visit showed High Park Rink open on the pleasure-skating side from 10 a.m, hockey pad still being cleared. Giovanni Caboto is open on the pleasure-skating side, with a big Case loader removing snow on the hockey side.
No weather-related message on the city rink "hotline." City Hall Rink is not open because the zamboni broke down and another one is being brought over. No other central city rinks are open yet, but staff expect City Hall, Kew, Regent South, and Jimmie Simpson to be open soon. Dufferin Rink is cleared but not resurfaced on one side, but the zamboni ran out of fuel so it will take time to open the other side. (Natural gas refills very slowly). No plows were available.
The city's rink hotline message is still the one from 5 pm, but by now all the rinks are closed. Two rinks not mentioned on the updates are:
Trinity Rink: cleared and resurfaced between 5 and 7, but so few people knew about it that there ended up being only a handful of skaters.
Christie Rink: started at 8.30 but they never got done.
The city's "rink hotline" says that the following rinks are open now in "South District": City Hall, Ramsden, Harry Gairey, Rosedale, Kew, Greenwood, Withrow, Dufferin, Ryerson, Regent North and Regent South.
Also Wallace and Campbell Rinks are open, but not mentioned on the hotline. The hotline updates are an extra task for a staff person who's off duty and preparing a Christmas banquet -- tough for her, but still better for rink users than the lack of weather information for the other districts.
The city's "rink hotline" says that the following rinks are open now in "South District": City Hall, Ramsden, Harry Gairey, Rosedale, Kew, Greenwood, Withrow, and Dufferin. There is no weather-related information for the other three districts, but an out-of-date announcement says that High Park Rink is "currently being flooded and will be open on Saturday, weather permitting."
We do know directly (not from the city rink hotline) that Rennie has been open since 11 a.m. There's a good chance that many other Etobicoke rinks and the North York rinks are also open by now, since they have more staff and more plows than central Toronto.
Dufferin Rink is only open on one pad, despite the "hotline" announcement. The pleasure-skating pad is still unavailable.
Although the City "rink hotline" says that in central Toronto (called "South District"), the rinks that are open are: City Hall, Ramsden and Harry Gairey, a call to Ramsden said that the plow is still at work and the rink is not yet open. A call to Rennie Rink says it's open.
City rink hotline says that in central Toronto (called "South District"), the rinks that are open are: City Hall, Ramsden and Harry Gairey.
Dufferin Rink is being plowed by a small truck. The zamboni tried to help but got stuck right away.
The city's hotline has no current weather-related information for any of the rinks in Etobicoke, North Toronto, or Scarborough. In order to hear schedule information, the caller has to listen to the entire city helmet information policy, plus all the options including how to register, how to get a skating job at the rinks, etc. Then the message begins again with the city helmet rule, but if you know enough to press "1" you can skip to the different districts (South, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough) and go through the prompts for schedule information. Some of the time, when pressing "4" for Etobicoke, there's a transfer to a program registration line.
This city web page http://www.toronto.ca/parks/recreation_facilities/skating/outdoor_ice_rinks.htm says that both Albert Campbell and Mel Lastman will open Nov.29, tomorrow. But here's what's still on the "hot-line" this morning:
1. It begins with an inserted announcement about South District, only mentioning City Hall and Dufferin, and saying that all other rinks will open on Dec.6. This is confusing. 2. Then the message goes back over to the general announcements, then it goes to the different districts. North District still has its 2007 message on for Mel Lastman, saying the schedule will operate from Dec.8. 3. East District still has an end-of-season announcement for last season, and says skating will return at Albert Campbell Rink "in December 2008."
1. only the South message explains up front which rinks are in which region. Internal codes like "district" and "region" are not useful to callers -- how would a rink user know which region to choose, when looking for a named rink? 2. Some of the district recordings don't allow the * for interrupting a specific rink message to return to the beginning. This is needed. 3. The High Park apology/explanation is so long that there is a disincentive to wait for the messages for other rinks to begin.
Please let me know for the cityrinks.ca website when Albert Campbell and Mel Lastman will open, so we can have accurate information on our much-used site.
Please consider mentioning the cityrinks.ca site on your hot line and linking it on your web pages, until your own information is easier to access, and accurate.
Thanks for getting back to me. It must be very frustrating if you're the person where the buck stops (in letting rink users know about rink closures), and you are not told something that's as big as City Hall Rink postponing its opening. Communication across a big organization is always tricky, but hopefully the bugs will be worked out soon.
They are both more "current" than the existing City pages. When Toronto changes the rink section of its site, they are welcome to "steal" our cityrinks.ca google map. How many cities in the world would actually need a map to show their outdoor A.I.R.'s? Most have only a few rinks. We're so lucky, to have so many. Might as well get the word out!
Thank you for bringing the error on the Rink Hotline to our attention. I was unaware of the change to the opening date until Friday and I neglected to change the outgoing message on the hotline.
In terms of the website, I will follow-up with the people responsible for updates and ensure that it is updated as well.
I will ensure that all future updates are recorded on the Rink Hotline in a timely manner and I apologize for any convenience my oversight may have caused.
This email is directed to you since Kevin Bowser is still on vacation. The city's "rink hotline" says that City Hall Rink opens Nov.22 "weather permitting." The weather is fine for rinks. But when I went down to take a pretty picture for the cityrinks.ca website, this is what I found: City Hall Rink Diary
So City Hall Rink is not open, despite what the "rink hotline" says.
The "rink hotline" says the caller can get more information here: City of Toronto web site
But there is no up-to-date information about City Hall Rink there. Access Toronto is closed, of course, so where does that leave skaters? I'm sure you will agree that this is not a good thing.
Problems with the "rink hotline" in the past led to the Dufferin Rink staff being given the password so they could update at least the South section at no extra cost to the rinks budget. However, city management have now stopped this helpful practice. So once again, a city of two and a half million has this kind of misinformation -- embarrassing!
Nor did anyone notify our website. When we found out today, we put a message on the home page.
Such a message is easy to post, even easier if city staff inform us by sending us an e-mail.
The city should immediately improve its rink information website. Here is a nice example from the outdoor rink in Central Park NYC, which opened on October 23 and posts its ice conditions as needed: Central Park outdoor ice rink
Could you let me know if such an improvement is planned for this rink season? Are there other outdoor rinks which won't be opening as scheduled?