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Monday Outdoor Rink Report #4, Dec.14 2009

1. information: According to the 311 line, almost all the outdoor rinks are now open. This week we have not done many rink site visits, so we haven't been able to verify the 311 information. However, sometimes the 311 operators seem to be dubious themselves -- when asked to look up a rink, they often sound rather tentative. The information is usually incomplete, and the 311 operators say they don't have the direct rink numbers, in case there's a doubt about their information.

We would like to repeat our request: that individual phone numbers of all the outdoor rinks be available both on-line and from the 311 operators. That's the only way that rink users can be sure the have the right information.

2. School visit rules: several e-mailed requests for information went unanswered, until I contacted Permits directly. They said that to their knowledge, schools wishing to come and skate without reserving the ice just for their own students, do not need to get a permit. Good decision! We have therefore put that information on the website.

3. Locked doors at rinks
After our last inquiry re Giovanni Caboto Rink, the front doors of the rink change area were unlocked during the hours when recreation staff are in the building. That's progress. However, it seems that Parks staff are unwilling to keep the front doors unlocked during the rink's open hours, either at Giovanni Caboto Rink or at Etobicoke's Civic Rink (West Mall). We will monitor this unfortunate situation. Since there has been no response to our follow-up inquiry, we will submit a freedom of information request about any policy or collective agreement that may mandate front doors being locked when Parks staff are in charge.

4. Outdoor rinks schedule on the three upcoming stat holidays.
A draft schedule produced by Recreation appears to show that the city plans to close all its rinks on Christmas Day, Boxing day, and New Year's Day. Although this is the standard approach in North York, it is a shrinking of services for the rest of the outdoor rinks. See Happy Holidays. (Compare to the attachments showing the draft plans for West and South districts.)

Beyond that, there seem to be different messages from Parks than from Rec. The skate rental outlet owner at City Hall told us that Nathan Phillips will be open and serviced on those three days, and so will some of the other rinks. Apparently she heard this from Parks. Note also (see the Happy Holidays link above) that in the last two years, the holiday plan did not match reality. There seem to have been last-minute changes that resulted in even greater staffing inequities than normal, between West and South districts.

North and East Districts, however, followed their time-honoured course of shutting everything down.

Since the Local 416 ice-resurfacing staff are paid triple-time-and-a-half on those stat holidays, it's understandable that the City would be alarmed at the cost. However, we believe that there is a middle way, using a skeleton staff of part-time recreation rink workers to keep the individual rink change rooms open, with a skeleton staff of travelling ice resurfacing staff who (weather permitting) can do five rink resurfacings per shift, each driver going to 5 rinks that have on-site equipment. (Five rinks in eight hours leaves enough travelling and lunch time.)

We would like to acquaint the general manager, the mayor, and the councillors with this problem of stat holiday closures, but please let us know first whether the attached plans Etobicoke /York District, EAST YORK are still current, or if not, what the current plans are. These holidays are three very popular skating days for Toronto families, and that ought to be respected.

5. Unresolved disparities in rink ice maintenance between districts, with Wallace and Giovanni Caboto as samples. This issue will be the subject of a separate request.

Jutta Mason

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Content last modified on November 15, 2010, at 09:37 PM EST