At 12.30 pm there are two shinny hockey players on the ice, two more coming on. There are also two building attendants (one being trained) and one rink guard. The rink change area is nice and bright but it has only a few benches, not enough if they get any kind of crowd.
The impression of the place is "clean but run down," as is the case with many of the rink buildings.
There was an altercation at the Monarch Park Arena last night that required the presence of 8 police officers. The incident took place during the two hour period allotted to women's shinny hockey. The officers I spoke with have asked me, as the person who made the call to 911, to follow up with the City and work with you to create new policies and procedures for how women's shinny is communicated at Monarch and if necessary, other arenas.
Here's what happened. About 10 women showed up last night to play at 8pm. The slot for women's hockey is from 8-10pm. There were men on the ice playing at 8:05, and they had to be asked by the employee at the rink to vacate. They did, yet several lingered around the ice waiting to see if we had reached a maximum of 10 players. If not, their intention was to use half of the rink. I am new to women's shinny hockey at Monarch, so I am not sure if this is a precedent that has been set wherein they (males) count the players for women's shinny and determine (on their own) if there are enough women to warrant a full rink. From my understanding from the rink supervisor, the police and the city, the rink is reserved for women players regardless of whether there are 2 or 25 players. This is not the understanding on the part of the "regulars" at the rink. As one officer commented to me, there needs to be very clearly communicated messaging around this, followed up by strict enforcement on behalf of the City and the rink.
As play began, there were continual attempts on the part of the males to get access to our game, and to the rink. On several occasions we had to ask one or more to leave the rink, or explain that this was women's shinny hockey time. By 9pm, half of the women left. I know that many felt exhausted and intimidated and/or unwilling to deal with the hassle of having to justify their ice time when all they wanted to do was come out for exercise and fun on a winters night.
That left 5 players on the ice and increasing insistence on behalf of the men/teenage boys that they were now justified to use half of the rink. They flooded onto it. I had to ask the rink employee to ask them to leave, mentioning that it was still women's shinny time, and that we still had an hour to play. This is when things escalated. One man in his 40s, and his 16 year old son, were very angry about having to leave the rink and they stood at the entrance to the rink yelling expletives (the 'c' word and the 'b' word) as well as insults and hateful comments to the remaining now four players (myself included) who were attempting to enjoy the final hour of play. Things got so heated that I had to call 911 and as the recorded call illustrates, the aggression on behalf of the 40 year old father, was especially vitriolic. He could be heard swearing and using hateful language throughout the 911 call. He insisted it was "free speech" yet the 911 operator told me to inform him that his language was a "hate crime". She could hear it loud and clear.
The 8 officers arrived and took reports. The 40 year old father was just as belligerent with them, using all of the language he used with us. The rest has been documented by staff at the rink and in a police report.
One of the officers asked me to follow up with the city to let you know that there needs to be much stronger communication and enforcement in regards to women's shinny at this rink. The residents of the area that use the rink regularly must be informed of the fact that these two hours are non-negotiable and completely reserved for women's shinny regardless of how many players show up. I know that the incident last night was very intimidating to players and it would be a shame if women began to stay away from shinny hockey simply because they want to avoid altercations like the one that took place last night. The rinks are to be shared, and there is precious little time available to women's shinny as it is.
E-mail from Women of Winter Shinny Hockey convener Deirdre Norman to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, 9.50 a.m.
I had hoped that my first email of the season would be one saying what a wonderful shinny season we are having. Instead I am emailing regarding the unfortunate situation at Monarch Park rink.
When you and I spoke last year about the harassment and abuse that we, as women shinny players, experience I am not sure you were convinced of the veracity of my concerns until the situation at Ramsden. Your response to that was swift, appropriate and permanent. (Ramsden is having a great season and the staff are very supportive of the women players).
Kelvin, what happened at Monarch Park takes the gender harassment to a whole new level. We can all be grateful that a violent, physical assault was not part of the equation. I don’t think I need to say (but will anyway) that women must not be made to be afraid to be play shinny on City rinks, that it is your responsibility as Supervisor to ensure that all community members can enjoy the programs that are provided and that this situation is addressed immediately.
I know that you have received an email and are aware of the details of the incident on Tuesday Jan. 12.
This is exactly what one might expect when a large, open-access City facility is left to be managed by a single, inadequately (for this kind of not uncommon situation) trained youth. This rink has a history of problems related to inappropriate community use and adding a vulnerable component (women programs at night) to the mix without the proper support only increases the potential for something to go drastically wrong.
I, as a rink user and as a woman shinny player, am asking that you take immediate action to guarantee our safety at Monarch Park rink.
· That staff with experience and maturity are in charge of the programs and the facility, especially at night when they are most needed.
· That PFR resources are used to develop community and/or outreach programs at Monarch Park which is obviously an at-risk community.
· That staff receive further training and support for dealing with aggressive, potentially dangerous situations.
· That appropriate signage is posted with all program/permit times listed.
· That, if it is not already up, the Code of Behaviour is displayed prominently and enforced.
· According to the Code of Behaviour posted at rinks, “All programs and permits must be respected”, and “No foul, offensive or racist (can we add sexist?) language ….” should be used. It also says that rink staff must be respected.
Most immediately, I am asking that extra staff and a Supervisor are present next Tuesday when we have our ice time; that our program time is available and respected.
E-mail from Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, January 14 2011, 9.37 a.m., to the women present on January 11.
Thank you for taking the time to inform me about your experience at Monarch Park Artificial Ice Rink on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. I was dismayed to hear that male hockey players were behaving in an intimidating and abusive manner towards the female hockey players, and that you were compelled to call 911 to receive assistance from the police. You were absolutely justified in your action, and we are grateful that the police responded in a timely fashion. We are very sorry that our rink staff were not able to support you more fully.
I would like to advise you of the action that has been taken to ensure that your next visit to the Women's Shinny Hockey program at Monarch Park AIR will be more satisfactory:
1) We are investigating the incident with our staff and the police, and hope to be able to identify the aggressive leaders of the conflict, and to formally address their behaviour.
2) We will be giving direction to our rink staff to ensure that the male hockey players have vacated the rink prior to the start of the Women's Shinny Hockey time (8 pm) to allow the women to have an undisturbed access to the rink for the full 2 hours. Our policy is to allow full access to the ice by women for the entire 2 hours; there is no expectation for the women to "share" the ice with the men if there are only a few female players.
3) We have requested the presence of our mobile security unit to provide additional support to the rink staff in order to clear the rink for the women's program.
4) We will be issuing directives to staff at all of the other Toronto and East York rinks to ensure that they are following the same procedures. We do not know why the men expected the women to "share" the ice, but that is not the policy of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and is not the approved practice at any other city location.
E-mail from CityRinks to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Jan.14 2011
I've been getting copies of these various e-mails and have posted the original description on the Monarch Rink page. I've heard that you did send a response -- would it be possible for you to forward it to me so I can post it -- showing that management is working on this situation?
We'll do updates next Tuesday, others have been sending reports as well.
Monday January 17 2011, e-mail from S.W.
Creating a proper time-spread and means of shifting overflow between rinks in the general area might help us get around the ugly scene that happened last week. There's way too much demand for men's shinny in evenings and on weekends, and a shortage of demand for other uses at many other times. Coordinating schedules with Kew Gardens and Withrow might improve a time spread.
E-mail from Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Jan.18 2011
I have been advised my correspondence with residents regarding their issues and concerns is considered privileged and/or confidential, and I am instructed not to waive any related rights for use or distribution, and the email is intended only for the recipient(s). Any other use is unauthorized.
E-mail from CityRinks to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Jan.18 2011
We'll follow up to get some further copyright clarifications.
This is an important issue for transparency re issues that are brought up by park users/rink users. It's good that you've raised it in this very clear wording.
E-mail from Recreation Director Janie Romoff, Jan.18 2011
we agree it's important to be transparent on this issue, and want to insure that others are aware of our response that so that similar incidents can be avoided. After the skate tonight we will be issuing some information to Jutta for public posting. Thanks for your patience as we work through this.
A little follow-up tour of the rink. The most unusual thing about Monarch Rink is its distance from the road -- so far away! It's bounded on either side by two high schools, and on the back by train tracks. There's a pay phone right at the street entrance(in case you need help?).
The rink staff were looking at the ice and testing it by sliding on it. It was all ice, but thin enough on the west net area that you could clearly see the cement. A very pleasant rink attendant said that a group of school kids had just left. There are only two benches (plus two vending machines) in the main change room area, plus a windowless locker room with a hand-lettered sign: "family change room." The locker room has more benches but no rubber flooring -- instead there are pieces of rubber entry mats placed in strategic spots. One of the mats welcomes skaters to the Bank of Montreal.
There were signs all oevr the place, including public health signs for the swimming pool, and accessibility signs, and helmet signs, and "not responsible for your stuff" signs, and "no smoking" and "no photographs" -- but no sign about women's shinny and no /Code of Conduct. The helmet sign did mention good behavior.
The rink attendant said that he only works in the daytime and he rarely has any problems.