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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis

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wood stove at Dufferin


Rink Diary

2022 - 2023


Rink diaries from earlier years:

2021 - 2022

Nov.27, 2021

Opened for the season


2020 - 2021

Nov.28, 2020

Opened for the season

COVID-RELATED RESTRICTIONS: To find out how to book a skating time, go to the city's outdoor rinks web page.
All shinny hockey has been removed except for Greenwood (and only children and youth are allowed there). The city's opening rules are described here and our rinks blog is here.

2019 - 2020

Jan.18, 2020 "skate exchange" report from Peter Thillaye

The weather was winter: full blowing snow, wind.

biggest snow of the winter so far

akates were in former snack bar

a dad getting skates for his sons


three skate exchange staff

four more staff, rubber mat under table!

The rink was lightly used. Two rink attendants were present(their shift ended at 4.30 pm), a tractor and two city staff digging out all the stairs to and from the rink.

There were two skate sledges.

Signage on the kiosk site and on the doors to the main building.

The skate exchanges was set up in a kiosk. There were 3 staff there. All the skates that had not been given out at Don Montgomery were moved to Mel Lastman. The emphasis was on children’s skates and not much for adults beyond size 7. A man ahead of me got 2 pairs for his sons both under 10.

skate exchange poster

try-on area had no rubber mat

free skate lending

The good cheer of the skate exchange was impressive. There were no problems with photographs. Free hot chocolate was available for the few parents/ kids skating.

There were open washrooms, and benches to try skates on.

liability waiver form

Inside was the folding tables and the skate lending 2 more staff and there was a small number of parents and kids lacing up. The skate loans were free. Both the skate exchange and the skate lending were giving away free Marlies winter scarves.

There was a general City of TO Skate 101 brochure, tips on skate sharpening and information on wheelchairs on ice plus first time information.

The big difference between Don Montgomery and Mel Lastman was the staff brought the skate size you asked for, there was no looking over all the available skates.

Skate exchange waiver and release of liability. The full text is here

2018 - 2019

March 2-3 2019: "Rink Social"

Winter caribana


kids on sledges

campfire circle

April, the friendly firekeeper from Evergreen

security staff for beer area, and a fence

sociable beer area


kitchen works well for beer

food: churros

food: Mexican hot chocolate

Muskoka chairs with pillows and blankets, heat lamp

tall buildings vs. campfire circle

ping pong

skate lending shelf

only brought 5 boxes...

...but quite a few were lent out

colouring table beside skate lending
Jan.29, 2019

The rink has been marked as open until yesterday and then it was listed as "snow removal in progress" (with over 25 cm of snow). At 4 p.m. it was again listed as open.


2017 - 2018

Jan.7, 2018, from Raf Lewis

Evening: The zamboni is on the ice very often and the ice is well maintained. There were only a handful of skaters and lots of room on the ice.


Loaner skates at Wallace Rink, 2014
September 11, 2017

A letter was sent to the city councillor, offering a donation of a complete skate loan collection for this rink.

Our reasons:
* people love to borrow skates: newcomers, school classes, kids and youth who grew out of their skates
* we have 110 pairs of skates, 20 hockey sticks, 20 helmets to donate
* this kind of program has been done by city staff for 12 years at Dufferin Rink, 9 years at Wallace and Campbell -- lots of experienced staff, each one teach one
* staff often have time on their hands to lend skates and also to maintain skates
* the city has insurance that can cover this (the city is self-insured under $5 million anyway), but skate lending programs are rarely threatened with a claim if they do responsible skate maintenance.

Offer declined (actually -- ignored).


2016 - 2017

Dec.27, 2016

The rink is listed as closed due to unspecified ice conditions. Mechanical issues seem to shut this rink down more often.

Dec.1, 2016

This civic rink has been listed as closed for the last three days. On the city's web page, it just says "ice conditions," and the schedule is the same as if it was open.

Nov.26, 2016

This rink was listed as open at 10 a.m., closed at noon, and listed as open again by 4 pm.

2015 - 2016

March 18, 2016

This rink is one of three North York rinks that were closed March 11 but are still listed as staying open until March 20, but on alert as "closed -- ice conditions." They have no ice.

March 10, 2016

This rink has been closed more than it's been open this year. But it's still scheduled to keep running until March 20.

Dec. 24 - 26, 2015

Closed "due to weather"

Dec.23, 2015

The city's website says that Mel Lastman rink is closed "due to weather." But it has no fence around it, so there are people skating. There is a LOT of water on the rink, even though the ice underneath is good. Last year's technical problems are evidently not over.

looking west

looking east

"caution -- ice is slippery"

in case the other signs didn't make it clear

Rink Diary

2014 - 2015

no entries


Dec.12 2013

Mel Lastman Rink is listed as open today!

Dec.4 2013

It looks like there's a lot of work left to do. Three CIMCO repair guys were overheard sounding somewhat grouchy and discouraged in the compressor room. The header trench was open and some of the pipes had been taken out. They are very rusty.

pipes laid out

CIMCO repair truck

rusty pipes

compressor room and brine storage tanks

Nov.28, 2013

Message from city staff to 311: "The rink was supposed to open November 23rd, but our equipment stopped working, and is now under priority construction without an estimated time yet. We will be putting up signage, and letting 311 know as soon as its fixed and we have an open date. We are hoping soon"

Saturday Nov.23 2013

The rink is CLOSED, with barriers (including yellow danger tape) all around it. Looks like some of the covers for the header trench are propped up on the rink. No other information, except a beaten up old sign saying "No skating."

Nov.23: rink not ready -- too bad

old sign says: NO SKATING

Rink Diary 2011 - 2012

Thursday Nov.17 2011

No sign of startup. The concrete doesn't even look painted yet (they do a white surface ever year to offset the black from the reflecting pool). And this is a civic rink!

Wednesday Nov.23 2011

ice looks good

5:00 pm: A Zamboni crew member said the rink is open for skating, though they'll still flood some more this evening to get some more thickness to the ice. The changerooms are open. There's benches & mats down at the west end of the rink. A few people stopped as they came by to look at the ice, and one asked if I knew when the rink would be open. She was very pleased when I told her it's open now.

The reason she didn't know is that there were no signs up about the rink opening for the season. There was only one sign on a board saying use at your own risk and 'No Hockey'.

Sunday Dec.18 2011

good skating weather

Photo from correspondent Rafael Lewis: "There were parents with their little ones skating about."

Monday Jan.2, 2012

From rink correspondent Rafael Lewis: Around noon there were skaters of all ages present, from very young to some older skaters. There was no music playing (usually when I visit on weekends there is) but everyone was having a great time. The zamboni came out to clean up the ice as I stepped on for the first time. I had my headphones on so I never noticed until I turned a corner and saw him politely gesturing me to get off the ice. It was a bit windy and cold, but that didn't seem to bother any of the skaters.

January 2, 2012

Saturday Jan.6, 2012


From rink correspondent Rafael Lewis: Around 6:30 pm, I was at the rink and here I have attached one of the lit up tree just at the corner of the rink, its really nice. Being a Friday night with pretty mild temperatures there were a lot of teens on the ice. There was music and the zamboni was out just as I got to the rink so the ice was in excellent condition when I got on.


Rink Diary 2009 - 2010

Tuesday November 17th, 2009

This rink is scheduled to open on the 21st of November. At around 2pm, there was a lot of activity in the North York Civic center nearby, but no staff that knew anything about the rink. The security guards there were unaware that there was a rink, they were there mainly to do crowd control for the flu vaccination waiting area. The rink pad seemed clean , but the compressors were off. There was a rink sandwich board up with signage about not having ice melters close to the rink, and that hockey was not permitted, but nothing about the opening date. Indoors the rink change area was cordoned off with yellow caution tape. The security guards said there was some construction going on. Upstairs at the PFR offices, a lady at the main desk gave me a number for a supervisor of the downstairs area.

Friday November 20th, 2009

Overcast, windy. The parks staff working said that the good news was that the compressors were in good condition and ready to go. However, the decision was made early in the week that due to temperatures in the 10s and sun, that it was not possible to make ice. They were hoping to start on Tuesday the 24th.

Tuesday Nov. 24 2009

1 pm: Mel Lastman square. Workers are on site. The rink has its closed signs up. The compressors must be doing a dandy job because there is frost on the pad. I talk to the workers: they say they turned on the compressors last night and they will start flooding tonight (Tuesday night). I ask why they didn't turn on the compressors earlier, they say there was no point because the weather was too warm. I tell them Nathan Phillips opened, they say it is warmer in the north of Toronto. When is it going to be ready? I ask. When it's ready is their answer.

Monday Nov.30, 2009

Mel Lastman square is OPEN ! as of this weekend according to the parks staff. No skaters but the music is on. The ice is described as "soft" by the worker but it isn't soft. It looks and feels good on my boots.

Dec.16 2009

12.30pm: 7 skaters, some beginner. No helmets

Monday Dec 21 2009

11 am: 6 skaters, none with helmets, all pleasure skaters. I ask how the skating is going, they say the rink is too small.

Dec.22 2009

12.30pm: 10 skaters, no helmets 2 staff. Everyone looks happy and the music is christmas-y.


Rink Diary 2008 - 2009

Sunday November 30, 2008

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!

Snowy ice attracts a little kid with his toy tractors

ghostly empty

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.

interesting interlocking rubber tiles

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.

Click on pictures to enlarge


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Content last modified on November 27, 2022, at 09:54 AM EST