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Heather the blades are sharpened as required they were all last done Tuesday Feb 19th.
I was at the rink today and had an interesting chat with the ice maintenance crew. I noticed that the ice was still pretty thick and I asked them if they were able to do any extra scraping prior to the party tomorrow, as there is sunshine in the forecast. I was told that they can't do extra scraping because a) they don't have time and that even if they did, b) they don't have sharp blades. They said they only get new blades on their machines once a month and this isn't enough.
Just a comment here -- nine inches of ice is not "normal," and thick ice is not a benefit, it's a problem. The energy retrofit company (sometimes called Cinergy Solutions, sometimes Optimira) specified in its agreements with the City that outdoor ice should not exceed 3 inches. The president of CIMCO (main supplier of ice rink construction and maintenance to the City) also wrote to us last year that any rink where the ice is thicker than 3 inches, begins to be a natural ice rink. So why bother with all the expense of running compressors, if the ice is so thick that the pipes underneath can't even freeze the top?
I believe that the City will bear a financial penalty if they don't comply with the energy retrofit agreement, i.e. they have to pay the extra energy costs to Cinergy Solutions.
The solution re outdoor rinks ice maintenance is for the operators to be trained to cut ice regularly and slowly -- to stop racing up and down the ice with quick-and-dirty floods, as we see them doing so often. Good sharp blades are a big help too. And they need to be called on it if they don't do the regular cutting, all season long.
The other part of the solution, of course, is to open the rinks earlier and close them earlier. Our ice at Dufferin is also quite thick (not 9 inches, though!), and we'll be closed all afternoon from now on on sunny days (for three more weeks!) even when it's not warm. Sun's too high.
Don't worry about the thickness of the ice, it's normally 9" thick at Jimmy Simpson this time of year, from precipitation. Other outdoor rinks are no different. Thick ice in late February gives a rink the ability to withstand sun load and fog. When the zamboni scrapes and floods the rink, the crew tries to cut down more ice than they put back. One day of rain will increase the thickness by up to 1". I will direct them to "cut ice" more, flood less, and to remove standing water with the ice-resurfacing equipment. We'll have the rink in good shape for the skating party. If it is mild and sunny, pylons can be put along the north boards to mark the soft areas. Better to have slush on top of good ice, along the north boards, than bare concrete.
1 shinny player enjoys good ice at JS tonight. Two staff stay inside to keep warm, they lock themselves in the newly labelled staff office. They say that the ice has been good all year so far. This rink is closed at 6pm on Sunday nights by recreation staff, despite the manager's directive to keep it open.
A rink staff person was injured and needed stitches for enforcing age groups. Only parents of little kids ever can be persuaded into helmets not adults not older kids, not teens. From now on staff here say they less inclined to argue with patrons since they don't want to get stitches...or worse.
This rink has no phone for staff.
6pm: The ice is in great condition. New signs are up on the staff office. 9 hockey players, are happy.
7pm: 5 hockey players, all wearing helmets. Ice fair to good, recently zambonied.
Staff at rink called all skaters off the rink 15 mins, before closing and when a patron asked why so early when the schedule says the rink is open til 6, the response was I don't get paid past 6pm. Why is a perfectly good ice pad closed on Sunday nights in the first place? Seems to this rink user, that this might be a more popular time to use the rink. There are after all "use at your own risk" signs, telling the public that this rink is not always staffed or supervised.
Light snow and the rain the night before led to really poor ice conditions in the morning for learn to skate classes and no maintenance was completed before 5pm. The first day of Hockey in the Neighbourhood was also nearly impossible for a very new and young group of hockey players. The word around the rink said that a zamboni would be by at 2pm, none showed up.
9.30am: No one skating. Rink house closed but rink not locked. No evidence of ice maintenance.
Last year when I needed an extra 10 feet of rubber to reach our Hockey in the Neighbourhood locker, I was told there was no more and its too expensive to buy, so I found an old floor mat in the basement of the centre, flipped it over and it worked like a charm. So I thought what the hell, and I called Universal Services and asked them what they do with the mats that are no longer in circulation, and offered them a creative way to recycle them.
I know these aren't the ideal mat for long term outdoor use on concrete or ashphalt, but I'm sure they will fill a void somewhere around the rinks, and allow us coaches, players and pleasure skaters to move around more freely with our skates on, at least until the City's stock of more appropriate rubber can be grown.
In the spirit of volunteerism, some of the mats have already been picked up and are being stored at Jimmie Simpson CC. The mats in question are the same style mat that you would use at a front door of a community centre. Rubber on one side carpet on the other. The ideal application would be that of an indoor changeroom or other area that does not have adequate rubber for skaters. (Withrow park for example did not have any rubber in their changerooms last season, and the tile floor and skates suffered for it.) Alternately they would also be good to line the floors of most rink player benches and penalty boxes. The wood in benches is ok but there are nails as well that can easily rip the edge off a skate blade causing a safety issue for skaters when they return to the ice (dull skates lead to injury). As of right now I have picked up 100 or so mats of various sizes (around 500 linear feet, with the potential for some to be cut down for more) and I'm told that there are more (up to around 400 mats) if we need them on the condition that they be used around the rinks. The operations manager at Universal Services is himself a hockey coach and I think that is what led to his sympathetic and overwhelmingly generous response.