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Monday outdoor rink report #12, February 8, 2010

1. Re flying squad schedules: Campbell Rink conformed to the schedule on one day since Feb.1, Wallace more often. Re flying squad contacting on-site staff about schedule changes -- this has not yet happened.

2. Re Wallace Rink having a better level of service: so far it has about the same level of service as in February 2009 after Councillor Giambrone finally started jumping up and down:
Wallace ice maintenance last February
Wallace ice maintenance this February so far.

There is a zamboni on site part of the time, but the flying squad is still involved and the maintenance is less than other double pads. However the rink itself is continuing to be much-used, and rink users from other parts of town are on the increase (or nearby e.g. from up the hill around JJP), as they vote with their feet.

3. re usage at the sample rinks: There was only time to visit two of the rinks in our sample this week. Glen Long in the North district continues to have astonishingly low usage (or an extremely high cost per skater, looking at it that way 'round): Glen Long Rink. Almost all neighbourhood outdoor rinks are somewhat reduced in their usage, as people lose their taste for winter, but Giovanni Caboto in the West district is reduced more:
Giovanni Caboto Rink The JJP Advisory Council chair has given me 5-7 minutes of the Council's agenda time on Feb.9, to finally present our Giovanni Caboto/Wallace rink bulletin and suggest a joint special event there at the end of the month. A local resident and a PT Wallace rink staff will be accompanying me, but I will make it clear that the staff person is not there with the blessing of PF&R management, but rather as a co-author of the rink bulletin on her non-city time.

4. Re Toronto/EY rinks having the buildings open and accessible even when unattended, like they do in Etobicoke: we had no time to check this out, except at Trinity Rink which had 17 players at 2.50pm on Monday Feb.1, but the rink change room was locked. Any experiment to keep rink buildings unlocked and accessible needs to be site-specific: so for example Trinity, Regent South, Rosedale, Kew, and Withrow would be obvious candidates for being unlocked in the same way as public washrooms in summer, whereas for example Christie would be impossible and Campbell not ideal.

5. Greenwood: the much-contested campfire went very well with between one hundred and two hundred neighbours taking turns roasting marshmallows and getting to know each other over the course of the Feb.5 evening. Apparently there are plans for more in the future. Hopefully the Parks manager will suspend her opposition, if any. In terms of the suitability of the rink building or the field house as a winter social space, Sally Bliss told us that she's getting contradictory information about capital improvements, from Parks versus from Bob Duguid (re the master plan). She said she plans to follow that up.

6. Standardized signage, streamlining etc. -- this is a time waster. Accurate signage is what's needed. Accurate signs at Ward 18 rinks have been replaced by standardized signs -- who really cares? The good news is that the city's web schedule for Ramsden Rink has now been corrected, for its Women's Shinny time.

7. Re repairs, from the Parks director's January 28 e-mail: "On a general note our management staff are developing tools so that housekeeping and minor repairs are dealt with and monitored at the rink facilities on a more proactive basis." The jury is still out on that one. For example, the majority of the lockers at Dufferin Rink are out of order, due to having had no service for two years. Are there plans for doing this repair, or are the tools for planning the repair still being developed?

8. Family Day -- the citywide planning for this has changed a few times, and is now settled on allowing 5 Toronto/EY double-pad rinks to stay open for more or less regular hours. However, according to Permits, the after-hours permits at these rinks (and citywide) have been cancelled, which seems odd, if the ice is there and revenue is being lost.

We hope that our estimate of $70 per location to keep a rink open for three extra hours in the morning will remind management that shortening the hours for all the rinks on Family Day is unnecessary. Decisions about opening should be based on rink usage. An 8-hour limit on the much more costly zamboni drivers makes sense. We will be monitoring the ice maintenance on that day, since holidays are often surprising along that line.

9. Helmet Policy: CELOS will be very interested to see (a) the written opinion of the City's Risk Management group and (b) the locations, dates, times and results of the "program visitations to make helmet use observations."

10. Access to Information: the allowed limit of five rink-related requests came due last week. All of them were extended -- three quite straightforward requests apparently needing 60 days of record searches, and two related to MLSE, needing permission from the company. Suspense!

11. Last but not least: the Division's approach to its talent pool, if it hadn't been clear before, is certainly in no doubt now. The same goes for Recreation management's interest in collaborating in any good-faith way with CELOS. In my view, the current culture of the Parks and Recreation Division is seriously damaging our public spaces. After the decision to banish the Ward 18 recreation supervisor to work with the cleaners, when his programs are among the highest-used and best-known in the city, there is really only one course of action.

The general manager's attempt to reduce or abolish the role of community boards of management at the 8 best-run arenas in Toronto fits right in, and we hope to make common cause with those community boards and other concerned Torontonians who share our views. Sadly, my hope of being able to stop doing the park newsletter after ten years has been scuttled by the latest developments. And indeed, this one was one of the hardest newsletters to write: I would so much rather write good news, the world is far too full of problems already. But that was not to be.

It's necessary to get the position of the newsletter out more broadly, and that project is now underway.

Jutta Mason

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Content last modified on November 15, 2010, at 09:39 PM EST