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Rink Diary 2006 - 2007

Feb.22 4.15 pm

4.15 pm, rink too rough to skate

Heavy, wet snow in the morning covered the ice with snow. The loader had been here hours ago (according to the rink attendant) but the zamboni had not yet come and the ice was too rough to skate on.

This attendant was obviously engrossed in a phone conversation so she didn't tell the visitor much. But she appeared to be at the rink all alone, and this rink is quite remote from houses. Strange that this would be regarded as acceptable (safe) work conditions.

Dec.19 2006, 3 pm

The ice had not been cleaned yet that day. There was one skater playing shinny. The schedule was posted and copies were available without us needing us to ask, just sitting nicely in a stack on the table inside.

The ice is scraped/flooded about 3 or 4 times a week and the staff does not seem able to encourage the senior staff member to ask for a scrape or flood. There are two staff members. There are mats inside and outside, and benches only inside. The men's toilet needs attention. There is no food. The changeroom has a bulletin board with the schedule posted but the signage is lacking otherwise. The code of conduct is not posted.

The staff say they do not enforce the helmet policy. There is no public phone. There are no green shovels. The shinny scene in the evening is reported to be good. The boards were not repainted.

Reply from Scott Attwood to Jutta Mason, Dec.19 2006, regarding her question to his assistant Linda Mitsuki:

I do my best to answer my e-mails/ voice messages before the end of work day, daily.

Auto-reply from Scott Atwood, Dec.18 2006

Thank you for your email.

The Rink Season has started and I am away from the office working on the Artificial Ice Rinks.

Should you require immediate assistance, please contact Linda Mitsuki by email - [email protected]

I do not have access to my email and I will reply upon my return.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

From Jutta Mason to Linda Mitsuki, Dec.18 2006

Dear Ms.Mitsuki, does the auto-reply (below) from rink maintenance supervisor Scott Atwood mean that he never picks up e-mail during the rink season, or only that he won't pick it up today?

From Jutta Mason to Sally Bliss, cc to Scott Atwood, Dec.18 2006, commenting on a forwarded e-mail from Scott Attwood, City Rinks supervisor. Scott Attwood's comments in blue; Jutta Mason's additions in red.

Thank you again for speaking with me early morning (7:45 am) yesterday. As I explained, weather conditions that we've been experiencing the past few weeks have been playing havoc with our A.I.R. (Artificial Ice Rink) program city wide.

Harbourfront Rink, City Hall, Rennie, and Dufferin Rink were all fine in this weather. Our ice has been exceptionally good, since the sun is low and this is the kind of weather these compressor-powered rinks are designed for. (Central Park in NYC opened its rink Oct.20 and has been doing fine with the same kind of low-sun warm weather, up to 18 degrees; Harbourfront has been open since Nov.19 and doing fine).

The few rinks that are surviving this warm spell, Rennie, Nathan Philips Square (City Hall) and yes, Dufferin, we are fortunate to have both Zamboni and staff stationed at these locations.

Dufferin Rink does not have a zamboni driver stationed here. All those rinks were not just surviving, they were fine, because they had a good base of ice, and regular maintenance -- no need for on-site zamboni staff for good ice.

Weather conditions (snow storms, freezing rain, etc) also result in temperary closures when are A.I.R. program is operating at its best. There is no Zamboni garage storage at the majority of our rink locations and we maintain these locations with a fly crew, which work at servicing these rinks twice daily. These locations include Monarch, Withrow, Riverdale, Regent, to name a few.

The main problem with the rinks like Monarch Park is that they were just starting up and that they hadn't been given enough floods to lay down a good base of ice. As far as I know, those rinks got only two days of floods, maybe less. The rinks are meant to have four days of flooding prior to opening, as used to be the case. Skimping on pre-opening floods (praying for rain) is a false economy, since then the plants are still running and the zamboni crews are still being paid even if the rinks are closed. This needs to change.

Rubber matting will be delivered to Monarch by week's end and the Recreational Lead will look into the issue of additional benches. Please contact me again directly if you have any further questions and/or concerns.

From Harold Becker, assistant to Councillor Bussin, to Sally Bliss and to Rink Supervisor Scott Attwood, Dec.12 2006

Ms. Bliss, Thank you for contacting Councillor Bussin by e-mail.

Mr. Attwood, Please attend to this matter and advise on actions taken.

From Sally Bliss to Councillors Sandra Bussin and Paula Fletcher, Dec.12 2006

I'm a teacher at Greenwood Secondary School at Greenwood and Danforth. As you know, all our students are new Canadians. Last year, I started an after school skating program to introduce them to the joys of skating and get them "Active on Ice", during what can otherwise be quite a miserable season for many. With donations of used hockey skates and helmets, we'd walk 5 minutes over to Monarch Park's rink to use during public skating hours. The program was hugely popular! In September when school resumed, the first question a student from Iraq asked was, "When does skating start again, Ms?"

We'll, it was suppose to start today, but because of the mild weather, the rink at Monarch is a mess. I phoned Matty Eckler Community Centre at noon and they said that it would most likely be closed. I stopped by the rink at 4pm and the attendent didn't know if the zamboni would be coming or not.

While I understand that warm weather can be a nuisance in maintaining rinks, I can't help but be frustrated at the inconsistency across the city. Last year on 3 or 4 occasions, Monarch shut down while other rinks remained in operation. The best place to skate in the city is at Dufferin Grove Park because they've got an incredibly involved community. I just phoned them to find out that not only are their rinks open, but the ice is also "great".

I have no doubt that East Enders love hockey, skating, parks and community space just as much as the Dufferin Grove folks. We just might not be as mobilized, or well-resourced. At Monarch there's one lonely bench to tie your skates up on. While there are benches in the changeroom--there's no rubber to walk out on. Last year the attendant told my students to just walk on the concrete with their skates. When I did class field trips in school time, I would take students across the city to Dufferin Grove, where helmets and skates were available for loan, chairs allowed on the ice to support beginner skaters, woodstove and hot chocolate steaming to warm toes...What a difference!

I'm hoping you can put a little pressure on Parks and Recreation to bring the facility and maintenance standards at Monarch Park at least a little closer to those enjoyed by our Dufferin Grove neighbours.

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Content last modified on November 29, 2007, at 11:59 AM EST