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posted on September 13, 2008

The Star: MLSE to fund arena repairs

Leafs' parent company teaming up with Home Depot to renovate crumbling indoor rinks

The Leafs practised last winter at Withrow Park rink, one of
seven outdoor venues already being refurbished by MLSE

By: Mary Ormsby
Published: Sep 11, 2008
Source: The Star

There's nothing rinky-dink about this latest Maple Leaf power play.

The City of Toronto's crumbling arenas are getting a $1.5 million facelift from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, in partnership with Home Depot, to keep aging facilities functioning for kids who skate and play hockey.

Over the next five years, a minimum of three Toronto indoor and outdoor arenas will be renovated annually, with MLSE providing the funds and Home Depot pitching in with materials and labour from employees volunteering their time. The City of Toronto's department of recreation, forestry and parks will select the structures with the most pressing repair needs each year.

MLSE and Home Depot have already repaired seven outdoor rinks (with new flooring in change rooms, new boards, painting, etc.) over the past three years. Now, MLSE has sweetened the pot by bolstering Toronto's antiquated indoor infrastructure, which is well past its bricks-and-mortar lifespan.


posted on March 10, 2008

The Globe And Mail: Looking to skate after week of playing politics

Councillor Holyday plans to lace up this week at the city's outdoor rinks - so long as the March ice doesn't thaw

By: The Globe And Mail
Published: March 10, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

"One ice rink enthusiast expecting to lace up his skates this week is Councillor Doug Holyday, who plans to check out some of the city's eight outdoor rinks open this week for March break.

After last week's "skategate" at city hall, a partisan brawl over reopening 41 outdoor rinks that closed according to schedule on March 2, Mr. Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) wants to see whether the weather stays cold enough for the public to turn out for a spin.

"Oh, boy," he sighed of the body checks levelled by councillors from the left and right wings. "Councillors were playing politics with the issue." As a former mayor of Etobicoke, Mr. Holyday knows firsthand the weather-related challenge of keeping rinks open this time of the year. "The same thing is true over the years," he said. "You are in a crapshoot trying to keep ice on those rinks in mid-March.""


posted on March 09, 2008

The Star: Closed - Just When You Need Them

City cites costs, iffy weather for decision to keep most rinks shut. The shinny crowd is not amused

It was shinny time in between snowstorms at city-run
Dufferin Grove outdoor rink.

Published: March 09, 2008
Source: The Star.

"Clack, clack, clack. The sticks hit centre ice, only to be tossed to one side or the other in a random draw to choose teams among these two dozen men, mostly strangers to each other. Here for a game of hard-skating shinny.

"I don't know anybody here except this guy, and we're about to play a hockey game," says Andrew Song, 21, motioning to his friend Jake Lee.

Both of their parents are immigrants from South Korea. They've been playing since they were 4. "We live in Canada," he nods. "This is essential.""


posted on March 09, 2008

City News: City Councillors Vote To Keep Outdoor Rinks Closed

By: Staff
Published: Thursday March 6, 2008
Source: City News

It still feels like winter in the city of Toronto, especially after Wednesday's snowstorm, but if you're looking to take another turn around your local ice rink before spring finally does arrive you might be out of luck.

City councillors voted against a bid to reopen 41 outdoor rinks for March Break. They shut last Sunday. But with the GTA still in winter's grip, some politicians felt it was worth reopening the rinks to give fami lies something to do when the kids are off for a week.

The City's Parks Department said it would cost $380,000 to reopen the rinks and rehire seasonal staff, w hich is why most voted against the plan to keep them open longer. There are still eight rinks open if you're wil ling to travel to them, and they don't shut down until March 16.

Which rinks are currently still running? Find out here.


posted on March 09, 2008

Helmet policy causes conflict at city rinks

By: Kevin Kennedy
Published: March 6th, 2008
Source:, see the original article.

The City of Toronto is having difficulty enforcing a six-year-old helmet policy, which has come under criticism in the city’s south end. “We have had difficulties with Jutta Mason and the group that she represents,” said City of Toronto supervisor of active living Kevin Mercer. “They don’t like helmets and I’m not really sure why.” Mason, an ardent public space activist, is a founding member of the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park. Though a three-phase helmet policy began in 2002, the issue came to the forefront when a ten-year-old child was killed while playing shinny hockey without a helmet in 2006 in Guelph. This season, City officials have made a heavy push for compliance at all outdoor rinks.

According to the City’s “Helmet Policy For Ice Activities” which was approved August 16, 2002 and revised September 17, 2004, “All participants (preschool, children, youth, and adults) who participate in and play supervised shinny hockey, hockey, or power skate activities are required to wear Canadian Standards Association approved hockey helmets.” Also noted in the policy is that staffers “are required to enforce this Policy and they are to ask participants to leave the ice if they do not have the required CSA approved hockey helmet.”

Read more, with reader comments.

Here's a blog (referenced in one of the comments) by Andrew Coyne about risk. He's using tobogganing as an example. See Panic on the snowbanks.

posted on March 09, 2008

CTV Toronto: Councillor wants rinks reopened for March Break

By: CTVglobemedia
Published: March 2008

A Toronto councillor is pushing the cash-strapped city to reopen ice rinks in time for March Break.

Coun. Case Ootes said the city should foot the bill to reopen the rinks, many of which have been closed since Sunday. The cost of operating the rinks during the break will be about $200,000.

"The budget committee found over $1 million they didn't know they had," he said. "Some of that money can be used for this."


posted on March 06, 2008

CITY COUNCIL: DECISION ON ICE, "41 ice rinks to remain closed for March break"

After a day of partisan bickering, city council will now turn its attention to this year's $8.1-billion budget

Published: MARCH 6, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

A last-minute plea to reopen 41 outdoor rinks - beyond eight already staying open for next week's March break - failed at city council yesterday amid partisan bickering. But council agreed unanimously to direct staff to look at "costs and opportunities" to keep rinks open during the school break in future years. The rink fight came as council wrapped up a three-day session, with the focus set to shift today to the budget committee as it puts the final touches on this year's $8.1-billion budget.


posted on March 06, 2008

The Star: Outdoor rinks to stay closed

Toronto’s artificial outdoor skating rinks will not be operating
for the full season this year in order to save money.

Published: March 06, 2008
Source: The Star

The 41 outdoor artificial ice rinks closed by Toronto's parks department last Sunday will stay closed, city council confirmed last night.

After a sometimes nasty debate, councillors voted 18-13 to keep the rinks closed, defeating a motion by Councillor Case Ootes to keep them open an extra two weeks because of the persistent cold weather.

Parks staff said reopening the rinks could cost up to $266,000. Contracts to maintain the freezing equipment have expired, and 55 seasonal staff who run the rinks have already been let go.


posted on March 06, 2008

680News: Outdoor skating rinks won't re-open for March break, city council decides

By: 680 News
Published: Thursday, March 06, 2008 - 08:17 AM
Source: 680 News

Toronto - Toronto city council has decided against opening any of its outdoor skating rinks in time for March break. The cost of re-opening 41 of the outdoor rinks was a factor in the decision. It was a bitter debate at council, but at the end, it was decided that keeping rinks open during March break can be looked into for next year. "I am extremely disappointed because rinks represent a great way for kids and adults to stay in shape [and] get outside," one man, who lives near Withrow Park, told 680News. Although current weather conditions would be good enough to maintain outdoor rinks, 680News meteorologist, Brian Hill, said at the end of next week, temperatures will reach 6C.

posted on March 06, 2008

680 News:Outdoor rinks closed due to fluctuating March weather, city's budget chief says

The city closed all but eight of its 41
outdoor skating rinks over the weekend

By: Kevin Misener
Published: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 - 07:28 AM
Source: 680 News

Toronto - The city's budget chief took aim at Councillor Case Ootes, Tuesday, for his call to keep outdoor ice rinks open through the March break.

Shelley Carroll said Ootes has been taking advantage of public confusion and not telling the residents of Toronto the whole story.

"Councillor Ootes is taking advantage of confusion out there over cost-containment measures that happened in 2007. There are none with respect to skating in 2008," Carroll said.


posted on March 06, 2008

Toronto Sun: Keeping rinks open up in air

City staff fears it just might not be do-able

Published: March 5, 2008
Source: Toronto Sun

It would be difficult for municipal officials to comply with a last-minute decision by Toronto council to keep all of the city's 41 outdoor rinks open for March Break next week even if cold weather holds up, says the general manager of Toronto's parks department.

"It's not that we don't want to try to do it," said Brenda Librecz. "It's the issue of whether, technically, it's feasible to do it."

All but eight rinks closed Sunday and the remainder are scheduled to shut down March 16, the last day of March Break.

City council is poised today to address Councillor Case Ootes' call to ensure all outdoor rinks remain open --weather permitting -- when school kids get a break next week.

Librecz said she would have to re-hire seasonal rink workers who have already finished their stint with the city.

"I'm not sure we can get the staff back," she said.

Librecz said that the eight outdoor rinks earmarked to stay open have newer equipment that can withstand the longer days that accompany the arrival of March.

Rinks at Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square and the Scarborough Civic Centre are among those slated for operation.


posted on March 06, 2008

The Star: Short notice ices rink plans

By: Vanessa Lu
Published: March 05, 2008
Source: The Star

Any plan to reopen 41 outdoor skating rinks through the end of March break would be nearly impossible, say city staff.

That's because the compressors that cool the ice already have been shut down and equipment removed. It would take up to four days to reopen rinks.

Besides, the 55 unionized staffers who work at the rinks were laid off yesterday and some have taken on other jobs, says Brenda Librecz, general manager of parks, forestry and recreation.


posted on March 05, 2008

The Globe And Mail: Plan to keep city rinks open in limbo

Published: MARCH 5, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

A plea to keep all city outdoor skating rinks open for the March break, dismissed in some quarters as a move to embarrass Mayor David Miller, was left on thin ice yesterday. At city council, citing this year's unusually long, cold winter, Councillor Case Ootes (Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth) asked the city to reopen 41 outdoor artificial ice rinks that closed last weekend, the usual deadline. Eight others, along with another 40 indoor rinks, are open to the public until March 16. "You are here to serve the public, why wouldn't you take a look to see if it is feasible?" asked Mr. Ootes, denying an intent to put the mayor on the spot. "I talked to the mayor's office last Friday and asked him to consider keeping the rinks open and all I got was why they couldn't do it." At council, as procedural wrangles delayed a debate, councillors received a briefing note from city staff who urged against a quick reopening.


posted on March 06, 2008

Toronto Sun:Be a good skate!

Councillor wants all 41 T.O. rinks to stay open for March Break

Published: March 4, 2008
Source: Toronto Sun

If you freeze it, they will come. Councillor Case Ootes wants to see all 41 of the city's outdoor skating rinks stay open for March Break next week -- as long as the cold weather holds up.

All but eight outdoor rinks closed Sunday and the remainder are scheduled to shut down March 16, the last day of March Break. "Why are we keeping some open and not all of them?" Ootes said yesterday. "The winter is long enough as it is. If it's an opportunity to keep them open and have people enjoy themselves, kids enjoy themselves, then we should keep them open."

He called last Sunday's date to close the majority of the rinks "arbitrary." Ootes said he is waiting to hear the cost of keeping the rinks open, but Councillor Sandra Bussin pegged it at around $225,000. The money to reopen the rinks should be taken out of the nearly $1.4 million in extra funds found this year for arts and community grants, Ootes said.


posted on March 04, 2008

The Star: Council tables plan to keep ice rinks open

Official advises tapping grants budget for $200,000 to extend skating season through March break.

Published: March 04, 2008
Source: The Star

Water pools at Harry Gairy ice rink at Dundas and
Bathurst Sts March 3, 2008 as
warm weather triggers a thaw.
The rink had closed for the season but council
is considering a season extension.

MasterCard helped keep Toronto's outdoor ice rinks open in December. Now, the city is looking to extend the season and keep the rinks operating through March break.

"I do support it," Councillor Paula Fletcher, chair of the parks and environment committee, said of a proposal to keep rinks open until March 16.

"I think it's important that kids are able to skate during March break, weather permitting.

I want to ensure that kids that are home and families that are together have the opportunity to skate," Fletcher said.

All but eight of the city's 49 outdoor artificial ice rinks closed Sunday for the season.

Councillor Case Ootes has moved to keep them going another two weeks, an idea expected to be debated today by city council. Ootes said he understood a two-week extension would cost an extra $200,000, more than the $160,000 MasterCard donated to the city to cover the costs for December.

But Fletcher said the costs have to be clarified, and that officials should scour parks and recreation budgets to find the money.


posted on February 25, 2008

The Star: Leafs, fans brave outdoors

By: Paola Loriggio, Staff Reporter
Published: February 11, 2008
Source: The Star

It was a cold, cold morning for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who held their annual outdoor practice today despite an extreme cold weather alert.

The Leafs – their faces covered by balaclavas – hit the ice for about an hour at Withrow Park in Riverdale, as part of their charitable efforts to revamp local skating rinks. Some 250 elementary school students also braved the glacial weather to cheer on the team.

Meanwhile, city officials are warning residents to beware of the cold and extended the extreme cold weather alert through Monday and possibly Tuesday.

The alert was issued based on Environment Canada weather forecasts that called for temperatures below -15 C and severe wind chill.

The wind chill warning was called off this morning, and weather reports predict the day will warm up to a high of -7 C, which is five degrees below seasonal norms. Tuesday should bring similar temperatures, as well as up to 10 centimetres of snow starting in the morning.

posted February 07, 2008

The Star: Mayor avoids 'details'

Published: February 07, 2008
Source: The Star

To read the article in The Star

Mayor David Miller insists nothing was hidden from the public when he introduced Toronto's budget last week without mentioning an average 21.5 per cent jump in fees to use city ice rinks, sports fields and pools. He knew about those increases, but preferred to concentrate on "the big picture," Miller told reporters yesterday.

The proper forum for "details" – like recommended fee hikes hitting thousands of families across the city – lies elsewhere, he said. "The details of the budget are presented in budget committee. I think that's appropriate. That's the way it works."

In fact, that is not the way it works. When the city's $8.2 billion budget was formally presented by Miller on Jan. 28, the official news release contained plenty of details, including plans to install a stingray touch tank at the zoo and to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

posted February 07, 2008

The Star: 21% rink fee hike rejected

By: Donovan Vincent, city hall bureau
Published: February 07, 2008
Source: The Star
To read the article in The Star

A controversial proposal that called for raising permit fees for city ice rinks, sports fields and pools by an average 21.5 per cent is off the table, with Toronto Mayor David Miller saying he doesn't support it.

"It's not my perspective, I don't think fees for the rinks should go up 21 per cent, and I'm sure the budget committee will address that,'' Miller told reporters yesterday.

"We were briefed about this issue shortly before the budget launch. I don't agree with this direction. I don't think members of the budget committee agree, and I think they are going to come in with some recommendations for some more moderate fee increases,'' the mayor said, declining to elaborate on how big the increase might be.

Miller was busy yesterday defending charges that he wasn't completely upfront on Jan. 28, when the city's 2008 operating budget was introduced. Last week, Miller hailed it as a balanced budget, making no mention of permit fee hikes.

posted February 07, 2008

The Star: Fee hike threatens hockey group

By: Lois Kalchman
Published: February 06, 2008
Source: The Star
To read this article in the Star

The Scarborough Hockey Association will be "out of business" and the city will have to take over caring for 2,900 players if Toronto's proposed increases in ice rental costs go through, says its president John Kelloway.

The city revealed a budget on Monday that would see the cost of renting rinks rise 15 per cent to 34 per cent.

"The increase would put us out of business," Kelloway said yesterday, explaining it would add an additional $134,000 to the cost of running the 44-year-old association.

"Within 48 hours after they make it official, I will be calling a meeting of our seven organizations. If I read my presidents right from our meeting (Monday) night, we will be handing over the responsibility of our 2,100 house league and 800 competitive players to the city. The City of Toronto will be in the hockey business with all its expenses and paper work."

The Scarborough association and other regional groups like it are affiliates of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, a nearly 100-year-old organization that oversees local minor hockey. They are independently managed bodies with separate budgets and boards.

posted February 07, 2008

The Star: City hall misstep on sports fees

Published: February 06, 2008
Source: The Star
To read the article in the The Star

Toronto's municipal leaders were busy distancing themselves yesterday from a staff recommendation urging an average 21.5 per cent hike in fees to use city rinks, fields, pools and recreation programs. And no wonder. Thousands of families risk being hit by this cash grab.

What remains unclear is why these startling increases received no mention when the budget was introduced last week.

It's not as if the public weren't interested. The impact of proposed permit fee increases would be felt from baseball diamonds to soccer fields, and by participants in children's swimming classes and adult fitness programs. A double-digit jump in the already high cost of ice time was especially troubling for hockey players and parents.

David Miller was unavailable yesterday, but spokesperson Stuart Green described the mayor as being "uncomfortable with some of the numbers." Changes are expected. "There will be some room to manoeuvre," Green said. "Frankly, there has to be on this one."

Providing recreational opportunities to young and old is a fundamental function of a progressive city. Such programs aren't luxuries; they are important to our well-being, especially with obesity approaching epidemic proportions in Canada.

posted February 07, 2008

The Star: Ice, pool rental fees to soar

By: Donovan Vincent, Vanessa Lu
City Hall Bureau
Published: February 05, 2008
Source: The Star
To read the article in The Star

Fees to rent city-owned soccer fields, community pools and ice rinks in Toronto would rise as much as 34 per cent under proposed increases to the city's 2008 operating budget.

The changes affect permit fees and would mean that, for instance, the cost to rent a city arena for a child's birthday party for one hour would cost $330.96 – an increase of $83.79. That arena rental is the biggest increase at 34 per cent but competitive youth hockey leagues would see an 18 per cent increase and community youth house hockey leagues a 10 per cent increase for ice time. When the increases would take effect is not yet clear.

It would be an extra cost the city's young hockey players can hardly afford, said Greater Toronto Hockey League president John Gardner. Even now, he said, the league must charge a $5 per person admission rate for competitive hockey games – including players and parents – just to cover ice rates.

posted on January 24, 2008

Toronto Out Door Rinks, in Eye Weekly

A Pair of Skates, A Stick and A Dream

By: Kevin Kennedy
Published: January 23, 2008
Source: Eye Weekly

As a youngster I remember opening the sliding door at the back of my house to listen for action at the outdoor ice pad next to Pleasantview Arena: the definitive sound of puck meeting stick, the relentless stick taps that call for passes, the highly offensive chirping between players or the sound of a snow-spraying stop. Once “rink noise” was confirmed, I’d throw on my custom Leaf jersey and be on my way. It was on that outdoor rink that I succumbed to the grip of the game.

And it wasn’t just me. Wayne Gretzky famously developed into the Great One on a backyard rink during the Brantford winters of his childhood. Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater, which The Globe and Mail called “the best Canadian short story ever written,” sums it up nicely: “our real life was on the skating rink.” A part of our nation’s soul, apparently, may be found frozen outdoors on ice patches. Read more >>

posted January 22, 2008

Google News Alert for: Toronto outdoor rinks

Media Advisory: Swansea Hockey Association Celebrates 35th Season ...
Market Wire (press release) - USA TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 21, 2008) - The Swansea Hockey Association is known for being the largest outdoor not for profit hockey league in North ...

posted on January 21, 2008

The organizers of the successful Dufferin Grove Park revitalization take their grassroots spit and polish to new frontiers

One rink at a time

By: John Lorinc
Published: January 19, 2008
Source: The Globe and mail

Last Saturday afternoon, something fun but surprisingly unusual happened at the outdoor rink at Campbell Park, a forlorn spot in a slightly scruffy working-class neighbourhood near Dupont and Lansdowne: There was a family skate event, complete with hot chocolate, some lively music pumped over a PA system and a bit of campfire for those with chilly fingers. "We had a really good turnout," says Corey Chivers, a 25-year-old public-space activist who lives near the west-end park and helped to organize the event. He guesses that 40 people came out. "That wouldn't have happened here last year." Such wildly successful family-skate events occur all the time at Dufferin Grove, a storied downtown park that has been enthusiastically revitalized by local residents. But this winter, the core Dufferin Grove organizers decided to franchise their community-friendly concept to two other nearby rinks: Campbell, and Wallace Emerson, at Dupont and Dufferin. The move is partly about revitalizing these other rinks, but is also intended to relieve crowding at a park that has become a victim of its own success.


posted on February 25, 2008

Wharnsby: Time to honour Metropolit

Published: JANUARY 18, 2008 AT 12:02 PM EST
Source: Globe And Mail

Recently moved into the Toronto neighbourhood known as Corktown and was pleased to discover that there is a good outdoor rink a few blocks away at Sumach and Shuter streets, which happens to be the same ice surface that Boston Bruins forward Glen Metropolit grew up playing on.

The city of Toronto should honour Metropolit by naming the rink in honour of the former Regent Park resident. He has been an inspiration to many children in the area and will be featured in a segment on CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada on Feb. 9.


posted January 12, 2008

Wold's First Skates made with Bones

CBC radio's Quirks and Quarks looks at recent findings of early (~4000 years ago) crude ice skates made using bones in Finland.

posted on January 09, 2008

Toronto Sun Outdoor Rinks Iced

Outdoor Rinks Iced

By: Rob Granatstein
Published: Jan 6, 2008
Source: Toronto Sun

There's nothing better than a clean sheet of ice to skate on -- especially one you've shovelled clean yourself. As Roy MacGregor so eloquently wrote in a column in the Globe and Mail over the holidays, the backyard rink is a fleeting sight in southern Ontario. Even Wayne Gretzky's old backyard rink has been turned into a swimming pool. A recent trip out west -- and the NHL's New Year's Day Winter Classic -- reminded me just what we're missing. Spending two weeks on the outskirts of Calgary proved hockey can be alive and wel and not governed by the left-wing lock or the trap. Out on Chestermere Lake, just a few minutes from downtown Calgary, two large rinks were plowed on to the frozen surface, along with a few other skating pads and a track that stretched around the perimeter of the man-made lake. Many of the houses backing on to the lake featured their own nets and rinks.


Skate Your Heart Out!

Published: DECEMBER 28, 2007
Source: Torontoist

All photos by Kristin Foster.

After a blur of relatives, feasts, and gift wrap, some of us have returned to the confines of the office for peace and quiet while others are on the couch. Welcome to the Holiday Hangover! Torontoist told you what was going on for Christmas Day, now we've found a great way of avoiding Boxing Week in the comfort of your own neighbourhood.

With 49 outdoor rinks maintained by the city, all you need is a pair of skates (or a few bucks) and some friends to have a great afternoon. Torontoist went for a stroll recently and visited a few rinks in the downtown area.

posted on February 25, 2008

A massive new rink in Mexico introduces thousands to the joys, and perils, of ice skating

Published: December 23, 2007
Source:The Star

MEXICO CITY–Growing up in a poor section of Mexico City, the closest 10-year-old David Contreras had ever come to the sport of ice-skating was watching other people do it on television. Early this month, however, he and 139 classmates from the Diez de Mayo Primary School in Iztapalapa got special passes to experience the slippery challenges of an ice rink for the first time. His verdict: "It looks easy, but it's not."

Taking off the red-and-black Softec skates available to the city's novice skaters, he adds, "Yes, I would like to come again. Maybe then I won't fall as much."


posted on October 10, 2007

Joys of Outdoor Rinks

5,6, Pickup Sticks
Hockey at its best is a cool, clear night, an outdoor rink, and a gaggle of strangers

By: Daniel Sanger
Published: December 2007

Winter, the most depleting of seasons, can arrive any number of ways, some disarmingly pleasant. The most enchanting beginning is with a snowflake, then another, drifting down outside the classroom/office/kitchen window just about the time the mid-afternoon doldrums are kicking in. As daylight dwindles, the scattered snowflakes become a full-on storm, with drifts forming, cars spinning and skidding, and a rare euphoria in the air.

Those who didn’t catch the morning’s forecast, or who just failed to process it, slide and skate their way home in loafers and pumps, grinning at perfect strangers all the way. Meanwhile, those who left the house prepared march triumphantly through a world gone wild, but one from which they’ll emerge unscathed thanks to their Sorels and parkas. The kids among us — male or female, child or long past — fire off a few snowballs. We know that, contrary to all logic, the first throws of the year will be the most accurate and that we’ll nail, no problem, the stop sign at the corner, the telephone pole across the street, the maple two houses down.


posted on October 12, 2007

MasterCard donates $160,000 to open outdoor rinks in December.

MasterCard Canada Wants to Keep Torontonians Skating
Offers City $160,000 to Open Rinks in December

By: Julie Wilson, MasterCard Canada
Published: October 12, 2007

TORONTO, Oct. 12 /CNW/ - MasterCard Canada announced today that it is extending an offer to the City of Toronto to provide $160,000 to cover the cost of keeping the City's 49 artificial outdoor rinks open during the month of December and the holiday season.

As part of the City of Toronto's recently announced cost-containment measures, the opening of the 49 City-operated artificial outdoor rinks, including the Nathan Phillips Square rink, are to be delayed by one month.


posted on October 12, 2007

Author says Outdoor Rinks are pawns

Outdoor rinks hostage to icy political calculation

Published: October 12, 2007
Source: The Toronto Star

Toronto's artificial outdoor ice rinks are currently being held hostage by the mayor of Toronto and his supporters. After city council failed to approve his proposed new taxes over the summer, the mayor produced a package of high-profile service reductions, affecting libraries, community centres and rinks.

These services were apparently chosen for the immediate impact their loss would have on the citizenry. Mayor David Miller has never explicitly said so, but his hope seems to have been to dramatize the city's fiscal distress and mobilize support for the new taxes by imposing as much inconvenience on the citizens as possible.

The effect of this strategy has been to turn the rinks into a political pawn. The only way to get the rinks open, says the mayor's faction, is to support the new taxes. I think this has been a terrible mistake. Toronto rinks should not be treated as an optional service to be turned on and off at the political whim of the mayor and council. They are a fundamental part of Toronto's winter life and should no more be toyed with than other basic services like roads or sewers.


posted on October 09, 2007

Mayor Threatens Rink Cuts if no New Taxes Passed

No new taxes, no early rinks, mayor warns

Published: OCTOBER 3, 2007

The budget-crunching decision to delay opening the city's 49 outdoor ice rinks - cancelling Christmas-break hockey, shinny and pleasure skating - will not be reversed, Mayor David Miller said yesterday, unless city council votes for his controversial tax plan.

"If we get the taxes through then maybe it will ease the pressure a little bit," he told reporters. "... If we don't get them through then, you know, it's not just rinks, it's the whole range of parks and rec service that will be at issue."

The mayor said the cuts to rinks, which city staff say will save $160,000, were made because parks and recreation is one of the handful of departments where the city has a free hand to make cuts.

In other departments, the city has less room to make cuts because in some cases, such as welfare and daycare, the province sets standards and covers a share of the costs.


posted on October 09, 2007

Mayor Miller's Plan not favoured by rink users

'I have a plan': Mayor Miller
But to many residents faced with rink closures and program cuts, it sure doesn't seem like it

Published: October 2, 2007

West Toronto resident Jutta Mason came down to yesterday's executive committee meeting on the off chance the cost containment measures would be on the agenda.

The mother of three says she's found -- particularly in the past month -- she's had to turn up at City Hall "on spec" because items not listed on the public agenda of a meeting often end up being discussed as if by magic.

So true. It seems as of late in Mayor David Miller's highly transparent (!) regime, controversial agenda items are withheld until the last minute to head off any public input.

Mason couldn't have called it better yesterday. An unbelievable 10 items were walked on to the committee agenda at the 11th hour, including the cost containment report.


posted on October 09, 2007

Citizens' group proposes alternate city rinks plan

Staff asked to review outdoor rink delay

Citizen suggests opening rinks in December and closing them in March would save money

Published: OCTOBER 2, 2007

The Grinch-like cancellation of shinny and pleasure skating at outdoor rinks over the Christmas holidays - currently the plan under city hall's budget cuts - could be reversed, allies of Mayor David Miller suggested yesterday.

The move, which would save only $160,000 but is part of $34-million in reductions, has offended amateur hockey groups and created the uninspiring spectre of the usually crowded Nathan Phillips Square rink on city hall's doorstep left deserted over the peak holiday season.


posted on October 09, 2007

Councillors Rally for Rinks

Councillors rally against delayed opening of rinks

By: Desmond Brown
Published: September 28, 2007

Now that Toronto city councillors have voted to reopen community centres, they've turned their attention to ensuring outdoor ice rinks open before the Christmas holidays.

Opening city rinks a month later than the usual date, Dec. 1, was one of the measures proposed by Mayor David Miller to battle the city's cash crunch.

If the cuts materialize, they'll impact all city rinks, including Nathan Phillips Square.

The annual Cavalcade of Lights, which kicks off in late November and runs through December, will also be affected.

Councillors who oppose the move, which would save the city an estimated $160,000, tried to get the issue heard during Wednesday's city council meeting, but it was voted down.


posted on October 09, 2007

Miller Opponents Push for Reversal

Miller's opponents pushing for reversal on cuts

Published: SEPTEMBER 25, 2007

While Mayor David Miller has already pledged to ask city council to reverse the u npopular Monday closings of community centres, his opponents now hope to use the opportunity to force him to back off budget cuts to outdoor rinks and libraries.

"If there was an opportunity to stab a knife through the heart of the cuts to lib raries and rinks, I would do it," Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East), a Conservative critic of the mayor, said yesterday in an interview.


posted on October 09, 2007

City considering closing rinks for good.

City puts outdoor rinks on thin ice

Published: September 21, 2007

Toronto parks officials have been looking into how much the city will save by shutting most outdoor ice rinks, according to a confidential city e-mail.

Joe Amato, parks operation support officer, sent an e-mail earlier this month that also suggests a member of Toronto council was planning to put forward a motion calling for the closure of outdoor rinks.

"There is a motion being put forward to close all AIRs (outdoor artificial ice rinks) except civic centres and rinks attached to community centres. So, basically all outdoor rinks in parks," says the memo. "I need to give an estimate of the $$ (money) saved if the motion went forward, so my thinking was to just provide all the cost centres associated with the outdoor rinks and that would be the savings if we closed them."


Letter to Globe and Mail's John Barber

This is a response from Jutta Mason to a column that John Barber wrote regarding rink closings planned for the early part of the 2007-2008 season. Unfortunately his column is only available to subscribers.

posted August 30, 2007

Hello John,

In your column you felt that “easy cuts” are elusive. Here are some short-term ones for Parks, Forestry and Recreation:

1. Cut one day a month for each of the 226 (or so) management staff. Save $1.5 million in a year (I can show you the math). Right now they’re only cutting the hours of their lowest-paid staff. Those cuts add up much more slowly (except in the eyes of the lowest-paid staff whose small wages go down even lower). Interestingly, I’ve heard that lots of management staff are willing to take these days off, and even those few days yield an impressive saving at their rate of pay.

2. Cut one director and his/her staff, maybe the folks whose main job it is to “evaluate, recommend and initiate innovative advancements in regard to service integration trends.” There are now 7 directors plus one new “acting director” whose job it is to connect silos built by the other 7. Some of the directors make nearly the same salary as the mayor – that adds up. Save $1.62 million (I can show you the math in all of these suggestions).

Some of the staff can be moved out into the field, they can help run the rink programs. The casual staff program wages are about $20,000 a year if they get near-full-time hours.

3. Reduce the number of Parks trash police (and their supervisor) by half. They don’t keep track of how many people they catch (I can show you the staff’s Freedom of Information response to that effect), so it’s hard to know how many officers to cut. But I’d suggest four, which leaves four more to do dog enforcement in their spare time. Save $400,000 (always counting benefits, of course).

4. Move one-third of the Parks and Rec Youth Outreach Workers (called “yow’s), over to public health. One-third of 21 means seven YOWs, those ones whose job is to “provide general information and referral services to the designated youth groups, on recreation, housing, employment, education, health, other services and establish positive relationships with youth, agencies, police, schools and the broader community.” Public health has lots of new funding from the Province, this staff transfer would give them new, suitable youth staff without the necessity of interview or orientation. Save $490,000 for Parks and Rec to put toward opening the City's 12 double-pad outdoor artificial ice rinks in mid-November (on the formula that one good shinny hockey rink equals 10 good YOWs-worth of youth work).

5. Cut out the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Divisional Safety and Security Plan officers. They’re an expensive way to do evening washroom lockup in parks and an inefficient way to relate to troublemakers. Save $350,000 (or maybe more, the project is partly confidential). Restore the recreation staff to their former role of long-term work with youth and communities. (Instead of what they have become now: book-keepers for shrinking program revenues.)

That’s $4.36 million saved for starters. – I know it’s only a drop in the bucket of the 2007 PFR operating budget of $303 million. But this list is just for the short term, our group has more good suggestions, and so do some of the City workers. This is just enough to prevent the Mayor’s cuts from punishing citizens and front-line program workers.

By the way, last year (2006) the Parks Committee considered a staff recommendation to permanently close all outdoor artificial ice rinks except City Hall and Mel Lastman.

In their report to the committee, staff priced that at $569,400 for the 2006 portion (i.e. the month of December). Your informant for your column today said that $800,000 would be saved this December by keeping all of the outdoor rinks out of commission, but that guess is maybe a little optimistic, if you compare the two numbers.

That’s the problem with a lot of City numbers, e.g. Parks and Rec revenue forecasts. But that’s a story for another day.

posted on October 14, 2007

John Barber on Possible Hockey Season Cancellation

Hockey Season Might Be Iced

By: John Barber
Published: August 29 2007

The first of many expected political brushfires in the parched weeks ahead broke out in Mayor David Miller’s own west-end backyard, where organizers of the Swansea Hockey Association informed parents that planned city budget cuts could put an end to the thriving league with more than 500 players.

“As we move into our 35th season, plans to celebrate this milestone had already begun,” league president Gail Oxtoby told parents in an e-mail. However, unless something dramatically changes, there will not be season this year, and likely never again.”


posted on August 27, 2007

Globe and Mail Opinion Piece: Killing Rink Time

Thanks, Mr. Miller, for killing my rink time

Published: AUGUST 25, 2007

Skating (and playing hockey) at Christmastime is as romantic as it is spirit-bearing. Each December, packs of adults are loosed from their work stations and children freed from their learning prisons so that they might drift, bladed, across the cold earth.

This annual snikking stampede is one of the city's great seasonal traditions. But if Toronto City Council has its way, citizens will be forever robbed of skating at Christmastime. New scheduling - the result of dire budgetary issues - will delay rink openings from early December to Jan. 1, at the end of the winter holiday.

That city councillors would besmirch one of the uncorrupted constants in our civic, cultural and social life - from the Conacher brothers chasing each other around the frozen playgrounds of Jesse Ketchum school in the 1930s to Paul Coffey stopping by for a skate at Ramsden Park - is to recklessly sledgehammer that which isn't broke.


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