See also Site Map
This page includes this year's recent rink diary entries for Toronto's outdoor rinks. In the individual rink folders you can also find (particularly the south District rinks) entries from previous years. See the individual rink folders for details.
If you have stories, pictures, rink condition updates, a family or community event, etc. to share, send us the material at [email protected], and we'll post it in the rink diaries (subject to editing of course).
For more detail, and complete diaries, see the individual rink details.
In this section:
The City's "rink hotline" says that this rink will open on Dec.13, but it's open on Dec.6. A rink attendant there says he's noticed that there is no compressor sound but there is ice on the most of the rink. College Park has very little drainage, and it's cold, so the water that collected there has frozen. Red pylons mark the cement strip along the edge. The opening sign, still from last year, says December 8. Inside it's cold, but the mats are laid out and the bathrooms are being cleaned.
The rink attendant says he was not told that his shift was cancelled, and the rink coordinator said he never heard about the delay in opening either.
A "girls in science" event has brought an instructor and two volunteers to have a "science of skating" demo at the rink. There are more people at the rink than usual anyway (it's a beautiful sunny day) but the ice is not great, wherever there's sun.
The "rink hotline" says that College Park Rink is closed for the rest of the season due to technical problems. So the bad ice must have been the sign already. Now there's only a big dirty puddle with a bit of ice floating in it. Sad.
Some rain first thing in the morning, and then the temperature began to drop. But because Christie Rink has no drainage, the rain stayed on. The flying crew came by in the morning and lifted up the hockey nets so they wouldn't sink in. Then they left, without doing any maintenance. The rink program staff had brought up benches for the Sunday campfire, but the wind was too strong. Still, they set up the snack bar inside for the two hours a week it's supposed to be open. People came by but the ice was unskateable, so they left again. No ice maintenance happened until 4.30 pm, a short time before the rink was set to close. Then the crew came and pushed the water off, and the ice was excellent. Too late!
Ice maintenance: 12.45 and 6 pm
Ice Maintenance: 10 am, 5.30 pm. A busy day at the rink. Sadly, the recreation manager has said that staff are not permitted to rent out skates except for two hours on the weekend. The skates are there, but most of the week no one can use them.
The rink is open, just in time for the Cavalcade of Lights, which starts tomorrow. last year the ramp had a "danger" sign on it, and people had to step way down off the overhanging edge to get on the ice. This time the ramp has no such sign. Good!
City Hall is one of the few larger rinks that doesn't have a garage for the zamboni, so they've made a little plastic tent for it. The zamboni driver says they have a heater in there, and that it's seldom that the zamboni freezes up.
At 1pm the rink is packed with skaters who seemed to be enjoying themselves. There are 70-80 people on the ice, with more skaters sitting and standing by the side of the rink. Roughly a third of the skaters are wearing rentals. There is a lot of laughter on the ice. The ice is smooth and hard, but starting to get snowy. At 1:25 the two rink guards blow their whistles and ask people to get off the ice so the Zamboni can clean it. After the skaters leave, the Zamboni waits a minute so that a figure skater can do a few twirls for a CITY TV cameraman.
There's no bulletin board anywhere near the rink. There's an information counter, but it's a private venture and won't take a cityrinks.ca poster. Nor do they give out the city's own rink schedules for other rinks in the city. Inside city hall there's no bulletin board either.
At 1.45 pm on Christmas Day, the rink was very full of skaters.
All the stores in malls, and all the community centres and libraries, were closed. So the rinks were packed (a sunny day).
Friday had 15 cm of snow and the rink closed. On Saturday the hockey rink got cleared by early afternoon but the pleasure-skating side didn't get done completely until Sunday. Pleasure-skaters skated in the 15 cm of snow all day Saturday. The zamboni came twice but couldn't get it done and it wasn't enough and the workers got pulled to another rink. There was no plow.
In early afternoon there were 15 hockey players, 20 people in the rink changeroom and 8 people pleasure skating. Only 4 cars in the lot so it must be walk-ins. Hockey pad looks like it hasn't been scraped in a few hours of serious use but otherwise is in good shape. The pleasure-skating side still had snow around the edges and corners and mustn't have been resurfaced since Sunday because the rink has snow tracked and caked onto the rink from the zamboni wheels. It seems the zamboni only does the east 3/4 of the rink. The rink guard is concerned about 4 places in the ice where there are deep grooves. 2 are from skates that must have been extremely sharp, and 2 are from "vandalism" (kids whacking the ice with their skates making "potholes"). These holes have gotten worse through a lack of maintenance.
The change room still has a couple of problems that are easily fixable: soap in the washrooms. Fixing the wall in the women's washroom. And the men's bathroom may have a problem - the smell of pee was very strong, you can smell it as soon as you walk in.
At 7.50, the rink was quite full -- 26 pleasure skaters, 13 shinny hockey players (just under half in helmets), 18 people changing in the very brightly electrified change room. The building attendant said that earlier in the afternoon he had counted over 100 people on the ice and in the building. This rink is known to be very popular.
There were signs up urging rink users to "respect women's hockey," but the staff said there has never actually been a problem (maybe because they only have an hour and fifteen minutes on Saturday at suppertime). Their problem is slow ice maintenance because their water hose is connected to a narrow (one-inch) pipe and it takes forever to fill the zamboni. However they do have an on-site zamboni and their own driver, so the staff said they don't really use their ice scrapers to clean off the rinks, together with users. But they have two scrapers.
E-mail from women's shinny hockey player M.G.:
I will follow up with the staff to ensure that the time slot is committed to women's programming.
Staff say there's been a great improvement to the facility - same for ice maintenance. The recreation boss has a great reputation around here. In his tenure the rink got repainted inside and outside. Staff say he schedules them fairly, he got new benches for skaters and always has extra schedules (even holiday schedules) for people to take home! Now that is community minded! Best of all for skaters: new mats have been laid down and a new floor inside Greenwood so that the ante-room part of the changeroom area is totally accessible with skates on. Staff are friendly as usual.
Ice looks excellent - as it should, with a Zamboni driver on-site at all times 6-2pm and 2-10pm. Anytime the staff want a flood or scrape they just need to ask. While the driver is very accomodating the zamboni itself is not always so helpful- it breaks down frequently. Staff say it is the worst machine in the city. Apparently the Local 416 zamboni driver reads in another part of the building during the day, when he's not running the machine. A little more thorough shovelling would be great, especially in the path between rinks to the hockey pad.
On Friday the rink shut down with 15 cm of snow but by Saturday at 12pm it was open again on both sides.
At 7 pm the rink was in good condition with lots of people on both sides. The staff said that they've never has ice maintenance as good as this year, and that they even feel confident now about permitting out the rink sometimes, knowing that the ice won't be bad.
The rink has a big new sign at the entryway. Inside it's painted purple -- the staff said that according to the rink names, Monarch should have been painted purple and they should have been painted green. Good point.
There were several big signs, "Respect Women's Hockey." This rink has three women's shinny time slots -- Wednesdays 8 to 10, Saturdays 10 am to noon, and Sundays 11 am to noon. The staff said, "it's only fair to the women, to make sure they get to play and don't get bothered." So the struggle earlier in the season must have been worth it.
A perfect day to open -- minus 6 celsius and weak November sunshine. A lively scene at the rink, with a new addition: a little warming campfire in an outdoor wood stove. One of the staff said the fire was an idea that came down from management. It's a bit off to the side, near the pizza oven, maybe hard to find -- easier if the restaurant decides to serve hot chocolate there. There was a musician playing a guitar, and staff said a storyteller would be coming around five. The only problem was the women's washroom -- on opening day, two toilets had an "out of order" sign on them, and the third was hard to close.
The rink was open and busy from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It was a sunny day, and the rink was really, really full.
Mild, 9 degrees, earlier rain showers that left a layer of water on the ice. At 7 pm the rink was fairly dry, even though the zamboni operator said he had only gone on a few times, since he was worried that he might hurt the ice.
The ice has been good here for most of the day. At 4 pm, the zamboni operator had just put on a flood, which was surprising given the amount of rain in the last 24 hours. But he said the ice would be shaved down a bit in the next few days to keep it low. And it looked great, with lots of skaters on the shinny hockey side.
At 9.30 there were two pleasure skaters, with two more getting their skates on, and sixteen shinny hockey players in a game, plus nine more waiting against the boards. The zamboni driver reminisced about his days working on natural ice rinks in Scarborough, ploughing and then hosing at 3 in the morning. Scarborough has only indoor arenas, with the single exception of the outdoor civic rink at the Scarborough Town Centre. The driver said they kept on making the outdoor natural ice rinks until a few years after amalgamation, and then it ended.
Bright sunshine, a beautiful day. At 2.45 pm the rink was a bit mushy but not bad, and there was a good shinny game going on, with a fair number of pleasure skaters on the other pad. The zamboni driver said that since he has a small zamboni for this rink, it takes him longer than usual to clear snow off the ice after a snowfall and it also takes longer to flood because he has to go and refill in between.
From shinny hockey player Craig Pardey, about Beginners' Shinny at Hodgson: The good news is that you don't have to sign up or pay a dime; you just show up and play :) The only requirement is that you wear a helmet although most people also wear hockey gloves.
The City usually assigns an instructor to help out with some drills for the first 1/2 hour, and then we play for an hour or so.
There are also other times at Dufferin Grove and Ramsden - both also free and require no sign-up.
Hodgson opens Dec 6, so the first game will be Sun Dec 7 @ 8.30pm Ramsden opens Dec 6, so the first game will be Fri Dec 12 @ 6pm Dufferin opens Nov 29, so the first game will be Wed Dec 3 @ 10pm
Hodgson Rink was open and staffed on Christmas Day.
At 7 pm the rink was drying up but still damp. Four skaters. The zamboni driver said he had gone on the ice a few times, but not cutting the ice, only using the cloth to sweep the water.
E-mail from a young rink visitor:
The "Hockey in the Neighbourhood" program is held every Saturday. Yesterday there was a big snowstorm. The program staff asked the maintenance supervisor if they could be dug out first on Saturday. By 12 noon they had their rink back, and they were able to run the program right on schedule.
8 shinny players, without any helmets. A family asks for skates and a helmet but neither are available. Another group of people complain that the online brochure schedule is incorrect. Schedules are available on site for anyone to pick up and are posted.
There is broken glass and a broken fixture in the men's changeroom. The women's is locked up. Jimmie Simpson has also had a rebuild from Home Depot and the Maple Leafs, including new plastic boards. Are these boards louder than the old ones? Staff report that the new boards require almost daily maintenance.
Although the mats are great, the path to the rink is still covered in snow. There are no benches outside. Staff can't see the rink from their office, which faces in the wrong direction and has no window anyway.
The ice is in very poor shape, staff say they get maximum one scrape and flood per day usually in the early morning. Because of the rain and snow about 2 inches of ice has built up in mounds around the edges of the rink. They need the edger.
At 6 pm there were nine kids on the ice, and it was pleasure-skating time. Seven of them were playing British Bulldog. At the edges there was a teenage girl and her much younger sister, trying to stay out of the way. I took a picture of the rink and right away a couple of the kids started yelling about taking pictures. I tried to tell them that they were just tiny stick figures in the pictures, with their backs to me, way down at the other end of the rink. But shouting at me was too interesting to stop for facts. One kid in particular wanted to tell me that his mother weighed four hundred pounds, stood six feet tall, was an "oreo," and would beat me easily. He said that if there was any picture of him on the website, he would shoot me with a supersoaker, "only it won't have water in it."
At this some of the other kids quietened down a bit, and then they resumed their game.
Inside the windowless rink change area there was fresh paint and a new rubber floor. After a few minutes, the teenage girl and her sister came in and took off their skates. They said it was no fun trying to skate with those kids around because they were on-purpose trying to hit them. Another women in the rink house said those kids are there all the time and that they bother everyone and last week were all banned for a few days, for spitting at other skaters.
Back outside, there were excellent new mats for going from the rink house to the ice. The zamboni truck came up and unloaded, with a huydraulic system that looked much like the dumpster trucks. The zamboni driver said they like that "tilt and load" truck because it's much easier on their backs than a trailer, although their flying squad has a trailer too. He said they used to have two tilt-and-loads, and had even arranged for one of them to be modified to be more useful. But as soon as it was out of the shop, he said, it was requisitioned by the West rinks, and they had never seen it again.
[Old message from February 18 2008, only just found] your website sucks can not retrive simple info without severe trouble congradulations just wanted to find places to play shinny hockey in the city what a nightmare using your program ridiculas will cc sanadra bussin but it is not her fault this is typical city of toronto joke and waste of resourses K.S.
Response: Hello -- I just found this message -- did I miss it last February, as the date of the e-mail says? Sorry you had trouble finding what you wanted on the website. But we are not actually a city-run website and therefore you don't need to worry about wasting your taxes (if that is part of your beef).
Maybe if you can let me know which rinks you want to play shinny at, I can copy the information for you. There are city schedule links in the right column of the cityrinks.ca home page: City Skating Brochures.
Two other possibilities:
1. check out the rink map, then click on the rinks you're interested in and use the prominently listed phone numbers to call them and ask about their shinny times
On this day: Parent and child shinny, parents say it is the best and that they wish they had more hours, other parents say that during the holidays it is well attended (requiring shifts of little kids and their parents!) but that usually it is more calm. There must be 30 people on the ice. The kids are suited up with hockey pads, jerseys and helmets, most adults have helmets but some don't.
The outdoor information board has a too small copy of the schedule and the brochure which is basically to high for any non professional basket ball player to read and again the type is too small. However efforts have been made: the staff have a stack of schedules available and there is an innovative note on the outdoor board by the rink saying "find staff over there" with an arrow.
Inside the changerooms it is as dismal, although clean, as ever. The ice is good, they are getting a minimum of 3 floods and scrapes a day, sometimes 5. Staff are friendly. Staff have made another invention: they have a sign up sheet for helmets and they put duct tape on the helmets (official ones from the city "Nike") so that people write down their names to borrow a helmet and staff have 6 helmets available!
At 6.45 there was a big Montessori School permit on the ice. More parents and little kids kept coming -- looked like it was 70-80 people.
the rink guard said that the permit was taking the place of normal Fiday night pleasure skating. He also said that the ice had been giving them trouble -- there were long deep cracks all over the ice and the rink had been closed for two hours in the afternoon for a special maintenance session. He said that there is an old zamboni from North York in a garage at Kew, but for this special maintenance they brought over a better zamboni. the driver scraped the ice, then gave it repeated "towel-floods," and afterwards the cracks were much less.
The rink guard also said that most of the weekend there's not much shinny.
About 10 players with zero helmets. The ice is pretty bad, it needs a scrape and flood but the edges are melting from the sunshine, which is made worse because the edges are especially thick with mounds of ice that have built up due to heavy precipitation. The staff have a schedule to hand out and they have posted it all around.
2 staff members are there and one is working very hard on cleaning up while the other is working very hard on being invisible (no staff shirt, no response when spoken to, Ipod on too loud, maybe).
Parents and kids seem pretty happy there but staff say that enforcing the pleasure/ shinny divide is hard and sometimes dangerous because the rink schedule online at Toronto.ca/parks is not up to date so people are constantly angry and disappointed.
Monarch had a lesser rebuild, a few new benches and mats but it isn't as obvious as Withrow or Riverdale. Staff say Monarch is the poor cousin since Jimmie Simpson is a priority centre, and Greenwood is a double pad and Riverdale, Withrow, Dieppe and Kew are all in wealthier neighborhoods. There is snow in the hockey boxes and the hard working staff is about to get to it after finishing refilling the soap dispenser. That is right...a rink with soap in the bathroom- that deserves a prize!
There are 3 vending machines, all working now but staff say they break frequently and are objects of theft. There are no helmets available. the ice gets done once a day before 10am usually.
At 8 pm the rink changeroom had a sign on it "rink closed due to weather." This was despite a City "rink hotline" announcement saying all the rinks were open. The hockey side was wet and showed no sign of maintenance. The pleasure-skating side had four skaters playing hockey, since the water had mostly run off and the ice was fairly free of puddles.
It appears that the area rink supervisor had sent all the zamboni staff home for their afternoon shift, presumably on full pay, and turned off his pager, so that rink staff could not reach him to ask about ice maintenance. By contrast, Rennie Rink had hourly ice maintenance and was able to run an all-day tournament with only one game cancelled. The ice was good there.
A pity for Ramsden, that it doesn't have the care that Rennie gets.
11.50 a.m. The game was on, although there were only 11 players, meaning that some of them looked wiped -- two hours with no subs! The rink attendant said he had cleaned the ice with the rink scrapers before 9 a.m. (he said a few people helped), so it was in good shape despite the lack of zamboni staff. On New Year's Day only the Etobicoke rinks had zamboni staff.
12.45 a.m. e-mail from R.Y. to cityrinks.ca: I live at--- and every night I have to call the non emergency Police to come down to Ramsden rink and get the hockey players off the ice. I do work in the morning and they wake me up EVERY NIGHT. I know the doors are not locked and just the lights are turned off!!!!!!!! Why is THAT??????? Leaving the players on the ice for however long they want to play. I have made numerous calls and nothing has been done.
I would suggest they lock all the doors. And as usual it is 12:45 AM and I will be call the police again!!!
I know nothing will be done, because what can we do it's not our job.
The cityrinks.ca website is not a municipal website, but we are passing on your very understandable complaint to City management (cc'd above, if you want to contact them directly). The Ramsden Rink staff building attendant who closes the building must be directed to also lock the rink gates, since the rink is close to houses and the sound of the hockey playing after hours is disturbing your sleep.
I've just spoken to the Ramsden rink building attendant and he confirms your experience -- that the staff lock up the nets but not the gates to the rink. I'll call them again after 4 pm, to ask if the woman on duty on the closing shift can start the ball rolling to lock the gates when the staff leave at night. It may be that she needs to speak with her supervisor on Monday before she can receive direction to lock the gates, but at least she can become more aware of the problem.
I'm familiar with a similar situation we had at Dufferin Rink. The staff left the gates open for years, until a rink neighbour came over one day and said: "this is wrecking my sleep!!" The neighbour is a strong supporter of the rink but she said that people were playing hockey at 2 and 3 in the morning. So the staff locked the rink at night from then on. Even so, people climbed the fence occasionally. So the rink staff put up a big sign on a chair they set right in the middle of the rink. And when the next night-time hockey game began, the neighbour came over to the rink and spoke to those shinny players, pointing to the sign. This involved the neighbour putting on clothes and going out into the cold, but she said it was still better than lying in bed, hopping mad.
The shinny players told her they were shift workers hoping to have some after-work fun, but they could see her point. These folks are usually not mean, just thoughtless, and it helps a lot for them to see the effect of their noise. (No need to yell, either -- the obvious misery of a person with a bed-head and a pajama sleeve sticking out of their coat can be really quite embarrassing to the hockey players.) After two friendly but firm visits from the neighbour, they didn't come back.
Please let us know if the City staff get back to you and solve your problem, or if it recurs. We will keep on following up as long as necessary, and I think you'll find that City staff take this problem seriously too.
Hi there -- here's the first bit of follow-up: I just spoke to a nice rink staff named Annemarie, who works only on weekend evenings (as a rink building attendant). She says they used to lock up the rink last year but now they use those chains and padlocks to just chain up the nets. Maybe they just need to get a couple of new chains and locks and then they can secure the rink at night too.
She have me two numbers that you can call to get this problem fixed:
1. immediate rink coordinator: Danielle at 416 990-1084 2. rink co-ordinator's boss: Jonah at 416 392-1783.
It does not matter whether the nets are locked, they just want to play hockey!! If the gates were locked last year, I do not see why they cannot be locked this year. I have already spoke with Jonah, ( I also went through this last year with him.) Jonah suggested I come up with a solution, LOCK THE GATES! On Wednesday December 31/08 I left a message for both he and Danielle, whom I have also spoke with, very sweet and understanding but I have not heard back from either of them. Maybe they have the week off.
I do not like calling the police every night, but I have to work in the morning, and my work and home life are suffering as a result of this.
"The solution is straightforward, as you mention -- staff can lock the gates at the end of every evening shift -- and the line of responsibility is also clear. Please let us know if this problem gets resolved this coming week. Hopefully the Recreation manager for Toronto and East York, Lucky Boothe, will give the necessary direction."
E-mail from R.Y. to cityrinks.ca. cc Recreation manager Lucky Boothe "Re Update - the staff returned my call yesterday saying locks were ordered? There must be locks and chains somewhere where they do not have to wait for them to arrive. (I did not ask how long it would take) My mistake! I have not heard any more. Last night Monday January 5th 2009 slamming the puck against the boards until 3AM! I am looking older than my actual age."
Great, Lucky responded. and took the first step.
But if the midnight hockey crew climb over the fence, or find a way to get a key, my offer stands. (We could also tell them about a few rinks that are left open and NOT near houses. Exercise is good, even at 3 a.m., but not at the cost of people's sleep.)
The rec staff at the rinks around here are pretty adventuresome and they were bothered when I told them your "sleepless at____" story. They were ready to come along (on their own time) and negotiate in the middle of the night, if needs be. We all love rink rats -- only we want them to behave well.
E-mail from R.Y. to recreation manager Lucky Boothe, cc cityrinks.ca Thanks for responding so quickly but it is 2:30 AM and I just called the police again. this is ridiculas. There are trespassing signs posted, maybe they should be enforced! I am not calling anyone at home to go to the rink, just go to Ramsden rink anytime after 12 Midnight, there is always a game going on!!!. And I am tired of calling the Police (they have better things to do)
E-mail from R.Y. to Recreation manager Lucky Boothe and cityrinks.ca I have not heard any late night hockey in the last few early evenings. I will keep you posted and I want to say Thank You for all your help in this matter, I really do appreciate it and also for the quick reponse that I received.
Well you're pretty nice to call it a quick response if you've been talking to rec staff since last year and this is your first winter-season week off the midnight hockey. But it's wonderful to hear that it's quiet now. Your idea of locks was a good one, and maybe one of the staff knew the players and shooed them away. Or maybe Lucky got the night-time Corporate Security staff to come around.
A couple of e-mails back you wrote that you were looking older than your years from so many interrupted sleeps. I hope your youth is back now! Your e-mails reminded me that warning shinny players about late-night noise is always good -- I put this bit into the Dufferin Rink January newsletter cityrinks.ca item:
At 9.30 pm, there was a fast shinny game on the hockey side, and on the pleasure-skating side there were two pleasure-skaters and three hockey players, no rink guards. Maybe the staff shifts end earlier on Fridays.
On a very sunny day, 2.15 pm there's no sound of compressors running and the ice is mushy. The hockey side is closed and only half the pleasure-skating side is open. The staff say that the compressors seem to be down and they're waiting for somone to come and look.
The zamboni driver shows me the zamboni and tells me she always wanted to drive one, since she was very small. "My dad took me to a hockey game and I said -- that's what I want to do, I want to drive the machine that cleans the ice." She says she's a big Leafs fan, too.
The ice was in and there was a building attendant and a rink guard inside. The rink change area has no windows, so the staff can't see out and skaters can't see in -- creepy. Out at the rink there were zero skaters. The sign announcing the opening of the rink was from last year, and gave December 8 as the date. It looks like nobody knew.
Regent South Rink was open with a building attendant and a rink guard. Good ice, four people playing shinny hockey. The sign was from last year's closing date. The rink house was light-filled and run-down and friendly as always.
At 5.40 there were eight skaters on the ice and another 5-6 kids inside the rink house. Regent South is always a fun place to start a conversation -- people (usually kids) are polite and they always have interesting things to tell. There was some difference of opinion about when the flying squad comes, but most kids felt it comes twice a day, either at 2 and 6 or at 12 and 4. The ice on Friday was good. The building attendant, whose little brother was also there, said they had a permit last year but this year "nobody wanted one." If the ice is bad, they don't use shovels, since their long green scrapers got broken. They were never fixed.
One of the kids was retaping his stick. They said they can buy hockey tape at the variety store across the street, the Daisy Mart, which stocks it along with groceries.
I asked the kids if they wanted a photo on the web site and at first they said they wanted an action shot, but then they changed their minds. They said I should write that the Regent kids are shy -- but talented.
15 shinny players, all but one without helmets. The building attendant says he has 2 donated helmets to lend out, but that people stole the official city ones because they were Nike brand. He hasn't got any new ones. The changeroom has been updated in partnership with Home Depot and the Maple Leafs Players Association. Unfortunately the beautiful blue paint was not reapplied enough to cover the white or yellow underneath and it looks sloppy. But there are new benches and it looks better overall. Moreover the window has been replaced in the staff room so that the staff can look out. The previous window was always covered in posters and was hard to see out of because of the embedded wire and kind of glass. Now only the schedule and the helmet poster stop staff from looking out.
However the staff person is friendly and seems competent. Schedules are available on site for anyone to pick up, and are posted.
Opening day. The ice was almost okay but it had thin patches near the entryway. Six people skating. The rink change house doors were open but there was no sign of any rink attendant other than a parked car -- knocks on doors produced no result. Much of the rink building and surround looks in need of care and attention -- scraped doors that need paint, a signboard with no information, a deep crack in the asphalt path that's just covered over with a piece of rubber mat.
E-mail from R.R. to cityrinks.ca
I would like to file a complaint with the city about the maintenance of the Rosedale hockey rink. Could you advise me who to contact and how?
The long tradition (10-20 years!) of the same players coming out to the weekend early-morning shinny games (Sat 8-10; Sun 9-11) is in jeopardy this year because of the terrible maintenance of the ice. In the past, the flying zamboni team would clean the ice first thing in the morning ensuring great games. But this season we've faced unplowed snow and rough ice. The rink attendant doesn't let us use the scraper and there's only one (!) shovel for the snow. One morning we shovelled and scraped with whatever we could find for 1h and could only play for 20min......it's a very sad state of affairs when the kind of cameraderie that has developed over the years is threatened because of city's indifference.
Cityrinks.ca is not a city website, as you may have noticed already, it's external. But I can certainly tell you who to contact.
Your complaint is not unusual, and people in various parts of the city are trying to solve these kinds of things at their neighborhood rink, e.g.: Ramsden Rink.
One problem seems to be a very uneven distribution of outdoor rink ice maintenance staff. All single-pad central Toronto neighbourhood rinks except for Kew have been recently downgraded to "minor" rinks, while in Etobicoke those rinks are called "major" (like our double pads). The many single-pad hockey-board rinks in Etobicoke have on-site ice resurfacing staff and vehicles for 9 - 14 shifts a week, leaving the central single-pad rinks with the crumbs (flying squads that come twice a day on good days, often less).
The new acting general manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Brenda Patterson, recently defended the present situation in writing: "The start-up this season has gone very well, with only a few minor disruptions....Staff is pleased with the availability and assignment of equipment and believes it is more than sufficient to support the needs program across the city." Her whole letter is here.
It would be very helpful if the general manager heard from other rinks that it's not working as well as she seems to think. However, in case City management never do get it to work this season (despite the considerable cost of the large and well-paid ice maintenance staff complement), shovels and scrapers are a big help. At Dufferin Rink we (rink users and on-site rec staff) fought the "battle of the scrapers" some years ago. As a result, the director at that time put out a citywide memo explicitly permitting rink users to work alongside rec staff to clean snow off the ice. However it seems that a number of rinks have slid back into the old approach of "NO."
The rink staff at Dufferin, Christie, Wallace and Campbell rinks have worked out a shovel protocol and have already begun to do regular supplementary ice maintenance, since the City is demonstrably not able to deliver an adequate level of maintenance at the central rinks (not even all double pads). You could ask Parks to supply Rosedale Rink with a total of three green rink scrapers (two single-size and one double) and four snow shovels, plus a letter of permission to use them. The person who can get you the shovels and the letter is the ice maintenance supervisor for your area: Peter Leiss.
The person who can clarify the on-site building attendant's role in supporting the manual ice clearing with the best shoveling routine is City recreation manager Lucky Boothe . He may wish to send the Rosedale rink staff to Dufferin Rink for a quick training refresher with the rink staff there. Lucky would also be responsible for ensuring that any staff reluctance to support rink users is remedied.
And the address for the general manager is [email protected]. Drawing her attention to your problem is perhaps the best way to make sure it gets immediate attention. And -- of course -- gaining the support of your city councillor is always helpful: [email protected]. He must be very aware of the issues you're facing, having dealt with them for so many years at Ramsden.
E-mail from L.S. to Recreation supervisor Dave Hains
I again visited Ryerson rink this morning (Sunday Feb 1st, arrived 11:30 am). No rink attendant, building locked, schedule missing from door.
Attendant (young, female) showed up at 11:45 am. This week's quote: "I'm running late - I called my supervisor".
Aside from myself there were two parents with small children waiting and another single adult skater waiting. By 12, 2 other adult skaters had arrived. So there is interest in using this rink. It sends a very negative message to users when the building is not open on schedule. Two Sundays in a row is not a coincidence, in my opinion.
I would like to add that the ice was freshly flooded and in perfect condition - now we just need a rink attendant as advertised.
At 2 pm the rink was smooth and there was a figure skater on it, doing wonderful routines around the rocks. The building attendant was sitting inside with a friend. He was courteous in his replies but not interested when he heard that this wonderful skater was outside. The inside looks shockingly squalid. There's scribbling (about cockroaches?) on the beautiful rock faces that make up part of the walls. The staff desk looks junky. One slight improvement has been made -- two of the nasty-looking opaque plastic windows have been replaced by glass panes, so that you can see a strip of the outside.
Click on image to enlarge it.
The inside of that place could be fixed up with a good cleaning and a little paint and a little respect for the design, there could be coffee and hot chocolate on a table in the corner, the rest of the sun-damaged plastic could be replaced by glass -- and the whole thing would look 100% better. When???
In keeping with my decision to try to use the Ryerson rink more regularly and keep an eye on conditions there, I visited on two weeknights Tuesday Feb 3 and Thursday Feb 5th. On Tuesday around 7 the rink building was open and attendant present (if somewhat surly) but ice had not been cleaned or resurfaced all day according to the attendant. There were about 5 adults other than myself waiting to skate and the ice was covered with snow and had dangerous soft areas. The zamboni operators arrived while I was there and we all waited for about 20 minutes. The ice was then beautiful and everyone had a great skate. I met 3 "new Canadians" teaching themselves to skate. I wonder if any level of government takes account of the importance of the outdoor rinks in improving the quality of life for newcomers.
Thursday evening was the first time in recent visits that I have encountered both clean ice AND an open attended building upon arrival. However it was 20 below with the windchill and no one but me was foolish enough to be out skating!
E-mail from L.S.
Today is a perfect skating day, with bright sunshine and a temperature that's not too high or low. I visited the Ryerson rink between about 12 and 1 and there were at least a dozen skaters, including several families with children and one man I recognized from my figure-skating club. Apparently one of our club coaches works at Ryerson and also uses the rink . This rink may be an orphan but it has interested friends out there.
Unfortunately, the ice conditions at opening were not up to an acceptable standard, except around the perimeter of the rink There were more than 6 craters in the ice surface. When I complained, the attendant quickly placed chairs and cones on the largest depressions, and called in a supervisor who promised it would be fixed "within a day or two". Fixed today would be better, but alas, we orphan-rink supporters cannot be too demanding.
I am happy to report that the building was open as scheduled today (noon) and the attendant was a truly charming gent who says he's 45 but looks 25! Maybe he was pulling my leg...
The cityrinks.ca visitor was also there. L.S. pointed out the craters in the ice, and they looked pretty deep.
One of the skaters told L.S. that she was an interfering busybody and so was the cityrinks visitor, and they should both mind their own business. This was on the basis of overhearing the complaint about the craters. His bark was worse than his bite, though -- he said he loves the downtown rinks, except for Nathan Phillips Square Rink, which is too crowded. He was unenthusiastic about anything like skate rentals, which he felt would bring more users to Ryerson Rink. It turned out that one of the best things about the rink, for him, is that so few people use it. Fair enough! But nevertheless, the rinks are expensive to run, and they need better care. The huge rock that forms part of the change room wall is marred by graffiti. And the place needs paint.
E-mail from L.S.: The CityRinks visit to Ryerson rink on Family Day seems to have borne fruit, as the ice was beautifully smooth tonight. When I first arrived (7:30pm) I was disappointed but not surprised to see a thick coating of fluffy snow from this afternoon's storm. I cleared a track for myself using the shovel from the rink building. Around 8 the Zamboni team arrived and did a proper clearing. The ice did not need flooding - it was perfect, and I skated around the rocks enjoying the night (if not the wind).
The attendant told me the maintenance squad had been to the rink at 11 and 3 today, so this was an (unusual) third visit. The zamboni operator was very insistent that the attendant log their visit. Perhaps this is due to some pressure from higher up? Whatever the reason, the result was a rink in nice condition tonight. Too bad no one else braved the cold.
E-mail from L.S.: Another beautiful day for skating outdoors: clear, cold and sunny. I arrived at about 11:15 am. Once again, door locked and no sign of attendant. One other adult skater on the ice. I put my skates on outside. At 11:30 a female attendant who is often working on Sundays appeared, standing outside the rink building door talking on her cell phone. As she has two other Sundays in the past, she said she had called a supervisor to report she was late. This time she said it was due to a death in her family.
It is hard to tell whether this young woman has valid personal reasons for being chronically late opening the building on Sundays, but it is not acceptable from a rink user's point of view. While I was inside the building she asked me to speak to her supervisor Alex, and handed me the phone. Alex apologized for the inconvenience but seemed to share the worker's point of view that as long as lateness is reported to a supervisor, everything is fine.
While this was going on a family of 4 arrived and two more adult skaters for a total of 8 on the ice by 12. The ice was not in acceptable condition, had evidently not been resurfaced and was covered with holes bumps and soft areas. I stayed around the area until 1:30 today and no sign of zamboni team. Of course, everyone was enjoying skating despite conditions, but my companion and I were not able to skate very fast for fear of tripping on a hole.
I was sad to leave as this is the final day for the season at this "orphan rink". I hope my complaints have at least made the City staff aware that there are concerned users who care about the state of the Ryerson rink.
No maintenance, not skateable.
The plow came in the early afternoon, the zamboni after that -- skateable by about 4 pm (report from rink neighbor).
Off and on rain-showers especially in the morning. No ice maintenance at all.
An early-morning rain shower put some more water on the ice. Then the rain stopped, but there was no ice maintenance at all. At 3 pm, pleasure-skating time began. The three hockey players who were on the ice were asked to get off, so they left. A father and his little daughter stayed. The zamboni arrived on its trailer, and one of the two zamboni guys went into the rink house. He came back out shortly and got back in the truck, and they left without doing any maintenance.
There were pleasure skaters on the ice and two rink guards in the building. The ice was rather snowy, since there had been no ice maintenance since yesterday, but the rink guards said they are not allowed to use shovels to clear snow off the ice. They said there used to be those big green rink scrapers at Trinity Rink,. to clear the snow off the ice, but they had been removed so that no one would use them.
From the Karen MacKenna for the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods:
FAMILY SKATE AND HOT CHOCOLATE TODAY!
Well, after some false starts this inaugural season - sincere apologies - looks like today the weather (no rain!) is smiling on us. By all accounts the hot choco will be served up between 3pm and 5pm today at the rink. All skaters and sledders welcome!
Please, BYO Mugs if you can. We will supply eco cups if you forget.
I will host the initial Sunday and Patricia Arseneau has agreed to share alternate Sundays with me. But we welcome and encourage any volunteers who would like to take on a shift during the 12 week season. Please contact me at[email protected] you are interested).
Patricia Arseneau was serving up the hot chocolate (organic Camino, and free!)and there were plenty of people interested. But just as she poured out the first cup, the freezing rain began. However, there were still skaters on the ice. Soon this bad weather luck has to turn.
At 7.45 pm the rink is open but very rough. There are hockey players on the ice even though it's pleasure-skating time.
At 9.00 pm there was a very fast women's shinny game -- there were only nine players, though, and it looked like they might run out of wind playing at that pace, with no subs.
The building attendant said that there's a women's instructional shinny class before that game, which today had six people.
The cityrinks.ca poster that had been tacked to the bulletin board inside the rink change area has been replaced by a city outdoor skating schedule. The supervisor for this rink is quite certain that the cityrinks poster is unauthorized, and that only authorized notices must be put up on city property, i.e. bulletin boards at public rinks.
Soon after the ice melted in early March, the very popular BMX bike course was set up again on the rink. At the end of March, two of the wooden platforms caught fire and burned fairly dramatically. The cause of the fire -- accident or arson -- was never determined.
Fresh paint outside and on the boards and the snow has been well shovelled. The new benches and wooden staircase still look great. There were 12 pleasure skaters and a happy scene. Ice is in great condition, they are serviced by the flying squad.
30 shinny players, about 1/3 with helmets. 3rd scrape and flood of the day. Skaters are happy.
From the City's "rink hotline" "Due to flooding at Withrow clubhouse this rink is not operational today."
At 7.30 pm there were 10 skaters (pleasure-skating time) plus four more changing into skates. Inside there were four guys in the staff office, only some of whom seemed to be actually on duty. They were very helpful about me putting up the cityrinks.ca poster, offering stick pins. Their bulletin board also had the sign, "Respect Women's Hockey," and another longer declaration of social inclusion.
They said that they get ice resurfacing usually twice a day, sometimes only once, and that they never know when the flying squad is coming. That also siad that they never use scrapers or shovels on the ice because they are not allowed to. If people piled heaps of snow on the sides, a puck could get caught underneath the zamboni, and then the Local 416 guys would be angry.
They took the shoveling bulletins and read them with interest.
In this section:
At 9.10 pm on a mild winter night, there are 12 pleasure-skaters, enjoying one of the rare programmed public skating times. In the community room beside the rink there is a large and lively group of disabled kids and families, who can look out onto the ice through the big picture windows.
On the rink change room door there is a sign saying that the rink is available for extra drop-in skating whenever there is neither a program or a permit, but that pucks and sticks are never allowed during that time.
The zamboni driver says that the youth are really unhappy about having only two hours a week to play drop-in shinny (the remaining two hours are for little kids). On the rink office desk, there's a clipboard with a long sheet of permit slots, many of them blank for this day. Apparently the way it works is that anyone who pays, gets the permit, so there can be 20 people wanting to skate, and somebody might book the time for three people. As long they pay, the ice can be taken by the three people and the twenty are turned away. The zamboni driver says that on those occasions it feels very strange -- an empty rink, lights blazing, staff on duty -- with only a few people skating around on their own.
The economics are not impressive. Broadlands Rink, with its hustling approach to selling permits, earned $16,526.56 in permit income in 2008. That makes it the third highest-earning rink in the city. But the City estimates that the full cost, for the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, of running the 49 outdoor rinks for the 3-month season is $5.7 million. To recover its assigned share of this cost, Broadlands would have had to earn at least $121,000 -- not close to realistic for outdoor rinks.
So the gap between income and cost is huge. Broadlands Rink currently dips into the public purse for an extra $104,474 in tax funding per season to deliver a meager 12 hours of public drop-in skating a week. At the same time, it has more staff and equipment than many rinks that offer ten times that amount of public drop-in skating.
It's time for this to change, and for City management to treat this 80% tax-funded rink as a public amenity for all the citizens for 80% of the time. Broadlands Rink should set a realistic income target and beyond that, open its gates to the many youth who love to play drop-in shinny, at the rink their parents' taxes fund.
A meeting at Councillor Minnan-Wong's office, with North York Recreation manager Costanza Allevato and Recreation supervisor Wendy Jang. The question was: how can Broadlands rink get more public drop-in shinny hockey than their current 4 hours a week? Wendy explained that signs had already been made that would allow more public skating including shinny hockey. However, she said she had become concerned about future problems with the new schedule and had held off posting them so she could seek advice from both Risk Management and Parks ice maintenance managers. There was still some uncertainty but she was willing to post paper signs in the interim, to allow the additional skating and remove the rule against ever using pucks and sticks during the unsupervised times.
The question was raised about prime time public skating, and Councillor Minnan-Wong said that there ought to be a fair balance, and that the "first principle" in considering this ought to be "maximum use of public resources." It was agreed that this would involve an analysis of the current permit schedule.
The question was raised whether it would be possible to introduce a skate-lending program to increase use in public times. Recreation management felt this would be problematic because of a city policy against cash-handling by staff.
Hello -- to follow up from Monday's meeting about Broadlands Rink:
I went there this morning hoping to take a photo of the banner or the new signs. I was surprised to see only this paper poster (photo excerpt):
"No sticks or pucks on the ice" -- so nothing has changed, still no additional shinny hockey. Can you let me know if it will be changing?
Also, the day after we met, the Dufferin Rink staff got a directive to work toward conforming with the city's cash-handling policy. Since there is no city computer at the park, this will take some working out. However, I assume there's a computer at Broadlands, so the rink staff could enter all income and expenses easily. Here is the December skate balance for Dufferin Rink (as you see, it pays for itself, especially if staff can do most of the rentals as part of their regular shift -- all staff have tons of spare time, including Local 416 staff.
Attached is the revised skate schedule for Broadlands AIR for the remainder of the season. A temporary (paper) sign has been put up effective February 19, and all location staff have been advised of the changed schedule. Installation of the permanent sign to follow.
That's a good start. Three questions:
1. Did Chapley and Glen Long get the same paper signs, or only Broadlands?
2. I see that none of the non-program shinny hockey times are in prime time, i.e. none after 3.30 on weekdays, and none on weekends. So no open shinny for school kids, nor for youth, nor for working folks. Is that because prime time is 100% permits?
3. I see that all three North York single pads are scheduled to stay open to March 15. Will they be keeping their permit schedule for the extension as well? If not, that could be a good time for shinny players (little and big) to get extra ice time in the evenings (daytime is often mush in March). Can that be arranged?
There was never an answer to the e-mail offering a "rink open for public skating" sign for the holidays.
The City's holiday rink schedules showed many outdoor rinks in Etobicoke and central Toronto open for New Year's Day. But it said that North Toronto outdoor rinks, except for Mel Lastman, would be closed.
The North York rinks were as good as their word. Despite the nice weather, and despite outdoor rinks in other parts of the city being lively with families and "Happy New Year" wishes exchanged among neighbours, Glen Long Rink was locked, with a new sign: Rink Closed. There was no other sign explaining when the rink would be open again.
In the afternoon the rink is open but there is still no outdoor sign re hours, "welcome to the rink," etc. No evidence of any skaters or rink staff either.
At 3 pm the rink looked rough, with shell ice and bumps all over it, as well as leaves blowing around or frozen into the ice. The rink doors were open but there were no skaters. A staff person was in the building, sweeping out the daycare room. He said he's the zamboni operator.
When asked about the poor ice, compared to nearby rink that had excellent ice at the same moment, he said that he doesn't do the ice unless a permit is coming, "and permits don't even start until later." He said that the rink isn't really open, "we don't do that in North York," but that if someone got on the ice during the day he "won't call the police" or kick them out.
The zamboni operator was friendly and approachable but he had quite a few strongly-held opinions about how the rinks should be run (everybody has to pay)or whether there should be outdoor rinks at all (emphatically not).
When asked whether I could put up a cityrinks.ca poster on the bulletin board he said, "why not?" but he made it clear that he didn't want to know much about it. He also reiterated that he will not do ice maintenance except for a paid permit.
Aty 2.15 the rink had 7 shinny hockey players at one end, three pleasure skaters, and a large family of eight more skaters just arriving in the rink change house. The rink is so long that the shinny hockey players and the other skaters seem to be able to share the ice without bothering one another. The rink change area is clean and inviting, with lots of benches and a great view of the ice.
Letter from Ledbury Rink:
Mel Lastman Rink was supposed to open yesterday, according to the city web site and the staff report to city councillors. Until Friday, the city's "rink hot-line" still carried the 2007/2008 schedule information for this rink. Then the message was changed to say that Mel Lastman Rink would open on December 6. Confusion!
The reality is even more confusing. The rink has ice, with snow on top. There are skate marks, but at 11 a.m. there's only a little kid with his toy tractors, pushing the snow around. The city should take a leaf from his book -- Mel Lastman Rink needs a tractor, or even better, a zamboni, to deliver on the city's promises.
A hunt for staff to find out when maintenance will happen leads into the former city hall building, which is open but ghostly empty. Finally we encounter an older gentleman, who directs us upstairs to the security desk. He says, there's no one working here today -- come to think of it, there's no one working here any other day either!
Upstairs there are two security staff at the desk. The sign above their heads says "Access Toronto." But sadly, they don't know when the rink is supposed to open and be maintained for skaters. No one has told them. But they think that maybe the ice has been in for a week already. They've tried to tell would-be skaters to stay off it, but they say it's impossible -- the skaters just come back when they're not looking.
North York seems to have careful approach to materials, if not to people. Their rubber times are all laid down for the skaters -- very nice interlocking tiles, like jigsaw puzzle pieces. The outdoor rinks in other parts of the city would love to have some of those.
At 2.30 pm Otter Creek Rink had 21 enthusiastic shinny hockey players on the hockey side and another 17 on the pleasure-skating side, with many more in the players' boxes. They said it's exam time (the rink is right by Lawrence Park Collegiate) and a lot of the kids had the afternoon off. What better thing to do than play hockey?
A mother who was there with two young children said that normally the rink is pretty quiet on weekday afternoons. She didn't mind that on this day both rink pads were full of shinny players -- they were letting her little boy play along with them and the mom said -- this is one of the best days of his life!
There is only one outdoor rink in Toronto's East District:
Albert Campbell Square Rink was scheduled to open yesterday, according to the city web site and the staff report to city councillors. And it did open yesterday, with very good ice. There were three skaters on the ice today at 11.30 a.m., and three rink guards -- a luxurious ratio of 1:1.
The rink guards said that yesterday wasn't very busy either. That may be because of confusing information. The city's "rink hot-line" still has the end-of-season message from last March, and it ends with the message: "Leisure skating will return weather permitting in December 2008." It then directs rink users to the Access Toronto line, as though that was a direct line: "For information at this location, contact Albert Campbell Square at 416 338-0338." But that line -- it's just the city's central information line downtown -- is only active on weekdays between 8 and 5.
The "rink hotline" message still has the same last-season message on it, saying the rink is now closed and will open again in December. Since it's a weekday, the Access Toronto line was accessible, and they said that the rink is open, and that they would look into the glitch on the "hotline."
Hurray, the "rink hotline" message has been changed to say it's open. It sounds friendly and inviting. The assistant to the Ontario Minister of Tourism sent an e-mail inquiring about City Hall rink, so we sent him a link to this rink too. Its location is dramatic, and the ice is very smooth.
At 9.30 pm the rink is unsupervised but the music is on and the ice is good. There are six youth there in the semi-dark, three hanging out and three skating. One of the skaters is practising his backward skating, very gracefully.
In this section:
The rink is in the middle of a big open space behind an apartment building. At night it's visible from far away because of the bright rink lights and the steam rising from the condenser. The ice looked good, despite bad weather yesterday (rain mixed with snow). At about 7 pm the rink had 25 youth on it, skating around or talking. A few girls, mostly guys. Almost half seemed to be smoking. There was no adult at all, nowhere nearby either. The mood was merry, lots of ribbing, but it didn't sound mean. Some of the kids remembered having their photo taken last year, and they commented on its having been the "featured picture" on the cityrinks.ca homepage for some time.
Sticks were thrown into the middle and then suddenly there was a fast game. There are no boards, and the ice doesn't even cover the whole tennis court -- on one side there's suddenly cement -- but it didn't seem to bother anyone. A few kids wore helmets. Most didn't.
Outside of the rink, against the chain link fence, was a shrine for 17-year-old Boris Cikovic, who was murdered near the rink in early October. There was a hockey stick, a basketball, some lanterns, a photograph, a plastic wreath, and a little printed description, maybe from the funeral.
A rink maintenance staff person came by to check on the rink. He said that there had been many layers of water put down to get the rink ready, "every day, every day, we were out here" and he was clearly pleased at the results -- good ice and a rink full of kids, playing shinny. The memorial is right beside them, and at least some of the kids must have known this talented young hockey player. But as long as there are kids and places where they can play, life goes on.
It's minus 15 at noon and there are not many people on the ice on this cold day. As usual, it's hard to get in, since the front stairs continue to be unshovelled and so a rink user must squeeze in between the street construction trailers and a portable toilet. Once in, I was impressed to see some guys playing shinny despite the cold. I took a picture, and then another one. One of the players skated over and shouted at me: "what are you doing? why are you taking a picture?" I explained that I wanted to put up a photo showing that Canadian shinny players are tough enough to play shinny in the extreme cold. But he cut me off, angrily pointing to the metal City Policy sign with all the rink rules -- "can't you read? You're not supposed to take pictures!"
Then I recognized him as a rink guard. "You work here? You're not supposed to be playing hockey on your shift!" He said he could play hockey if he wanted. I told him he was very rude. That was the end of it.
He was probably not working at that moment anyway. I think that in the daytime, they just have the rink operator in his unlabelled office, not a second person. But I think the rink guard recognized me as the person who contacted the supervisor about the unshovelled steps. Not that it seems to have made any difference.
I went by the front foyer, but the door was closed as always, no one in sight. The cityrinks.ca sign that I had put up on the bulletin board last time was gone, though.
The feeling one can get at that rink a lot of the time is of a boys' clubhouse, it might as well have a "private, keep out" sign scrawled on it. But it's not private, it's a public rink, and the question is -- does anyone in the administration care?
7.30pm -- the rink had good ice, a bit snowy but no problem for skaters. A dozen youth were on the ice with an instructor, having full equipment hockey drills. They had an odd drill where two lines of kids on either side of the rink shot pucks back and forth to each other while other kids took turns running the gauntlet down the middle, trying, I guess, not to get hit. Nobody raised the puck so it didn't seem dangerous, but it was different.
Inside the change room there were another dozen younger boys just changing out of their equipment, and as soon as they left, another crew of kids arrived to get ready for their time.
The rink operator said that the Humber Valley Hockey Association has the ice every evening, and it was those kids who filed in and out according to their time.
At 8 pm the rink was covered with snow and locked.
This is one of the most impressively located rinks in the city, with a huge view of the lake and the Toronto skyline. At 11 a.m. The ice was in excellent condition, but there were no skaters. The front door had no sign announcing the rink opening date. The rink operator was friendly and informative, though, and said they had been preparing the rinks for two weeks already. So it was no wonder that the ice was so much better than at the downtown rinks, some of which had only three days of preparation.
The rink operator said she hopes to get together a rink staff hockey team to play for fun this season. She said that that one of the rink guards at this rink was a former member of the Canadian Women's Hockey Team -- so the pace of the hockey ought to be pretty fast.
At 6.15 the ice had 12 young shinny hockey players playing a lively game, with a few other guys moving their own pucks around in the corners. The schedule says "public skate," but there were no pleasure skaters.
At 1.30 pm there were some guys playing shinny on ice that was a bit skated up but not bad. The change room was open but there was no sign of any staff. Outside the front door there's a sign about hours but the sign may not be right, since there's no mention of permits or a program schedule. There's also a garage, for the ice resurfacer, and another tractor parked outside, with a snow blower attachment.
At 8.15 pm the rink was shiny from just being flooded. A rink maintenance guy sat in his truck nearby. He said he had just done a flood and that he'd be doing one more before his shift ended. He said Queensway hadn't opened yet for the season but would open the next day. he thought there might have been a compressor problem that delayed the rink opening,. He also said they have equipment breakdown a lot -- we're still using equipment from the sixties. His truck looked more recent, but it had the Etobicoke pre-amalgamation logo "Parks and Culture" on it.
The rink has only one weak streetlight to see by, no proper rink lights, for night-time skating. Maybe that's because it's very near houses.
Despite the rain and snow yesterday, Queensway Rink was in good shape today and the guys playing shinny there said the ice was fine.
At 8.30 pm the large parking lot is full to capacity -- it's girls' hockey night and every change-room is full. Lots of parents/friends watching, some standing beside the rink and some looking down from the changeroom above. The snack bar is open, staffed by three young guys who say they're doing this as volunteer hours. Zero healthy snacks! Just chips and chocolate bars and pre-wrapped cookies. They say that on Saturday the menu is more varied, even including toasted bagels.
Two hockey teams on the hockey side and 17 pleasure-skaters on the other side.
The zamboni operator doesn't know when this rink was cleared from last night's snow -- but when he came on duty at 3 pm, it was all done. He says he cleans the ice often, up to five times a shift.
At 4.30 pm the rink was in good condition, although the weather was foggy and mild. The zamboni driver said that this was the second day of a hockey tournament and there had been a different game every hour. To prepare for the tournament he had come in at 6 a.m. and worked on the ice for three hours. Then the games had gone on, and despite the showers and the mild weather, only a single game had been forfeited -- all the other games were played.
The ice was about an inch lower because he had shaved it every time, but that was not a problem, the operator said, because it had been over three inches thick already.
Unlike almost all the other rinks in the central-Toronto area, this rink got maintenance, and therefore it had no water on it at all.
The operator said that the staff of this particular rink try to keep the ice not too thick, and sometimes when they know they want to shave ice, they run off the compressors at night so the ice will be a little softer in the morning, and easier to shave.
The rink was really full of people, the big parking lot had no spaces left. There was a big shinny game and there were lots of people skating around the tree. The ice was excellent -- the zamboni driver said he's been assigned to work 10 to 6, all by himself -- no rink staff at all! He said it's strange to have only himself there as staff. But the scene looked verv friendly, lots of Happy New Year's, nobody acting foolish, so that they would have needed direction from a rink guard.
The zamboni driver said that they have not lost one day all season so far.
A rainy day with a high of 8. Closed technically all day long, because of weather forecast of torrential downpours -- so they cancelled all permits in west and closed all rinks. Yet at 1:30 seemed solid, a little wet, a concrete worry near boards patched up. 7pm good condition, ice dry, still closed technically but allowing people to skate if they wanted to.
At 10.30 there was water in the center on the hockey pad but the sides were freezing up well (good drainage). The drainage was even better on the pleasure-skating pad and it was more or less ready to be skated on. The zamboni driver was just about to go on. Open from early afternoon.
The rink opened yesterday, and the ice was perfect. But at noon it was empty. The rink operator said that a permit had ended at 11.30 and public skating was not scheduled to begin until 2.15. So he had turned a man away who wanted to skate at 11.45. I said, why? He said that it was all about insurance, and the threat of lawsuits. I told him that there had only been two rink-related claims against the City in ten years, both related to full-equipment indoor-arena hockey leagues, one a body-checking injury, one a fight. He said, even one injury is too much. But then he added that he was just starting to work at the outdoor rinks, and he'd have to check with his supervisor on Monday to see if it was all right to let people use the rink outside of the scheduled times.
At 4 pm the ice was empty but it bore the marks of skaters, and the kids were just getting out of school next door. Some kids were asking the rink operator through the fence -- "is there shinny for kids now?" He looked it up in the schedule for them, and sure enough, it was their shinny time. They hurried away, presumably to dump their school books at home and grab their skates.
The rink operator showed me the equipment -- there was a tractor with a plow attachment, which he said hasn't worked for some months, and a Champion ice resurfacer on another tractor. They also have a smaller unit that can be used to blow snow off paths.
He said that if it snows, they usually bring a plow over and have it cleared fairly fast.
The rink was in very bad shape after two days of unsettled weather including a day of snow mixed with rain. At 7 pm it had been plowed but not scraped and there were big holes all over it. Even so, two young boys were skating in between the holes, while a man was putting his skates on. When asked when the busiest time of this rink is, they said -- all the time.
A zamboni driver said that it's a popular rink, but that the neighbours living nearby don't appreciate the shinny hockey noise and there have been times when someone has poured salt ion the rink.
At about 1 pm the hockey side had about 8 adults and 8 kids playing hockey. It looked like a parent-child program but it might not have been because that's not in the schedule. The ice looked very good, although one parent worried that it was a bit thin. The boards have the Home Depot and Maple Leafs logos in quantity, and there's a special sign up on the wall. The impression one has is that West Mall Rink is there because of those two corporate sponsors -- but it's unlikely that they cover a fraction of the cost.
There were only four pleasure skaters, and it was a cold wind. Inside, the rink was clean as always, but monotonous, with not many people there, no food, no services, no neighbourly chat. The donours' paint job had painted over the bulletin boards, so they were no longer notice boards but just clean white surfaces. Antiseptic!
The rink maintenance worker was very friendly, though. He let parents stand and watch the hockey in the office, because it was cold outside and the office had the best view. He said he's not a lead hand nor an APO2 -- he was just helping out because they were short-staffed.
One odd thing hasn't changed from last year -- the main entrance, facing toward the street and close to the bus stop, was locked. There was a track of footsteps through the snow, leading from where the bus stops, along the long front wall of the building, to the edge of the car parking lot, and then onto the path that leads to the rink-side door, the one that's unlocked.