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Monday Rink Report Correspondence

From Jutta Mason

To: Malcolm Bromley
Date: Wednesday Oct.21 2009

I called today to find out about our Giovanni Caboto/Wallace rink proposal. I gather that a supervisory meeting on the subject is planned for next week. Sadly, that's too late for us. The PT rec staff say that with so little lead time, even our simple suggestions would be too hard to plan for. I agree.

An opportunity lost, for that neighbourhood! However, perhaps the Giovanni Caboto Rink staff will be motivated to put out a better effort this year than last. I'll keep you posted, via cityrinks.ca.

From: Malcolm Bromley

Date: October 25, 2009:

Hi Jutta. Andy and I don't think its too late to improve the skating program. For the first time ever we held an all management skating staff meeting for programs across the City. True we would have been better positioned if we did this earlier but I am still optimistic. Our message to staff was that we will work as one team in our pursuit of high quality outdoor rink services. Andy and I will be closely monitoring the work of our staff teams. We will welcome the assistance of you and Celos.

From: Jutta Mason

Date: Dec 9, 2009 11:03 AM

Hello Malcolm,

no evidence of follow-up on the Giovanni Caboto front yet (referring to your October note below) -- I gather that a meeting last night with John Fulton had only one of their rink staff (five from Wallace) and resulted in no firm plans of any kind.

Even so, would you or Andy be willing to direct Giovanni Caboto staff to unlock the rink's front doors during the rink's hours of operation? I hope you agree that the "high quality outdoor rink services" you mention below would have open entryways as a starting point. West Mall Rink has the same peculiar problem.

From: Andy Koropeski

Date: Dec 9, 2009

Jutta: Regarding your question I am advised that John Fulton of Recreation has directed that the doors will be open when staff is on site. Mon to Fri 4 pm to 8 pm, Sat and Sun 9 am to 6 pm. Other times the gate entrance can be used.

From: Jutta Mason

Subject: Re: Can the rink front doors be unlocked? Date: Dec 9, 2009

Thank you Andy, that's an improvement for Giovanni Caboto. But it sounds like you feel that during the times when the on-site rink staff is a Parks person, the front doors can still be locked. However, this approach is inconsistent (thankfully) with that of the other Etobicoke "major" rinks, and elsewhere. Those rinks are also staffed by a 416 operator/lead hand only, in the daytime, but even during those times they have both front and back door open and accessible for rink users. The exception is West Mall -- see below the rink diary excerpt from Dec.2, with the photo (same as last year, the front doors by the bus stop are always kept locked).

The concept of keeping the front doors locked on public buildings, at any time when there is a city staff person being paid to be there -- very peculiar, yes?
Would you be able to direct West Mall staff to unlock the front doors, during the hours when a staff person is on duty? And to extend the open-door time at Giovanni Caboto to all day?

If safety for the Parks worker is an issue, they can just lock themselves in their office when they're alone. At Giovanni Caboto, they already do, or they go into the community centre (the other door out of their office).

A response from Brenda Patterson on outdoor rink information request

Date: December 15, 2009

Dear Ms. Mason, I refer to your recent correspondence requesting a variety of information and setting out a number of concerns with the start-up of this seasonís outdoor artificial ice rink program. Staff from our affected Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division branches have compiled information to address your enquiries. I trust the following will be helpful in explaining our operations as well as providing a contextual view of the program.read more >>

From Jutta Mason

Date: Dec 17, 2009
Subject: going to the ombudsman about outdoor rinks

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

A few days ago I was sent a copy of the outdoor compressor-cooled rinks update that you received this week from Parks, Forestry, and Recreation general manager Brenda Patterson. There is a gap between her report and the recent observations posted on our (non-city) cityrinks.ca website. Attached are the annotations we made to Ms.Patterson's letter, in case they are of interest to you.

As you may know, rink friends in various parts of the city had tried to engage with PF&R for many years, about issues that need work, regarding the 49 (soon to be 50) compressor-cooled outdoor rinks. Progress has been rather glacial, and neither the Parks Committee nor the Recreation Committee have followed up with us when we approached them. Tomorrow we are now going to the "place of last resort," the new City of Toronto ombudsman, to seek help. It will be interesting to learn whether systemic problems can be addressed in this new forum.

This has been a long struggle, and it's not without pieces of good news. We're happy to hear (although so far it's just a rumour, not on 311) that the plan to keep the outdoor rinks closed on the three upcoming stat holidays may be changed. Staffing the rinks on stat holidays, with zamboni drivers costing the City triple-time-and-a-half, is tricky. But hopefully a skeleton staff will be assigned. So Ms.Patterson's friendly invitation to councillors, in her rinks letter, to enjoy an outdoor skate during the holidays, must mean you can skate off Christmas dinner along with the many other Toronto families that have the same idea. What a great winter resource these rinks are (so let's make better use of what we have!).

Jutta Mason
http://cityrinks.ca

From: Jutta Mason

Date: Dec 17, 2009 2:59 PM

Hello Ms.Patterson --

Attached is the annotated version of your Councillors' Rink Update Letter from Monday. I just sent this version to the mayor and councillors. I also received your letter to me personally, yesterday. It was quite helpful for bringing into focus more of what we need to request through Corporate Access.

You mention that we have met periodically with the directors to pursue ideas. As far as I recall, we met once before the strike and once after. No ideas from there have been pursued. Merely having meetings is not really what we are after.

Our most recent request to follow up on the second meeting Giovanni Caboto Rink Diary pages has had no response. Everybody's busy, but the rink season is now, so we think that this needs to go at the front of the line. By now I doubt that's going to happen.

Two things you may want to address: 1. the citywide confusion about outdoor rinks holiday hours -- it appears that Parks and Rec are not talking to each other, nor to 311 2. up to now, Wallace Rink has only ever had two resurfacings a day -- never the three your letter states. When will this change?

From: Brenda Patterson

Date: Dec 18, 2009

Hi Jutta

Thank you for your email. With respect to the Wallace Rink floods I have been advised that because of staff illness and vacancies we have not yet achieved the 3 floods but that is our intended level of service. With respect to the holiday season I have been discussing the direction with the Directors of Recreation and Parks and we anticipate that outdoor rinks will be available on Christmas day for pleasure skating although there will not be access to the buildings nor will the rinks receive a flood on Christmas day. Reduced staffing will be available on Boxing Day and most rinks should get a minimum of one flood.

We will be advising 311 of this schedule.

From: Jutta Mason

Date Dec 18, 2009 12:57 PM

311 has not been advised as of now.
Will there be building access for skate changing and washrooms on Boxing Day and New Year's Day?

From: Andy Koropeski

Date: Dec 18, 2009

Hi Jutta:

Your below noted e-mail exchange has been provided to me. I can offer more detail as to the holiday schedules, and I also want to take the opportunity to address some of the other rink-related matters you have raised in a number of other e-mail correspondences this week.

First with respect to the holiday scheduling of the outdoor artificial ice rinks, staff of the Recreation and Parks branches of PF&R are definitely in communication with each other. The following is a detailed synopsis of the division's plan for the holiday season. This information has been relayed to 3-1-1, and I am also copying 3-1-1 management on this response. But in fairness, they may not have had an opportunity yet to post it for their operators. They do deal with massive volumes of data and changes on a daily basis for a vast range and scope of City programs. I also note that there is still a week before any changes to the normal rink schedules take effect.

December 24th, 2009
All rink pads are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled for ice resurfacing and buildings are open to 6:00 p.m.

Exception: Albert Campbell Square
The rink is open during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled and the building is open until 10:00 p.m.

December 25th, 2009
All rink pads are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
No staff will be available for ice resurfacing and buildings are closed.

Exception: Nathan Phillips Square
Open regular operating hours. Staff are scheduled. Building is open.

Exception: Albert Campbell Square
Open regular operating hours. Staff are scheduled. Building is open.

December 26th, 2009
All rink pads are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled for ice resurfacing and buildings are open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Exceptions: Nathan Phillips Square
Open regular operating hours. Staff are scheduled. Building is open.

Exceptions:
* Broadlands

  • Glen Long
  • Irving Chapley
  • Ledbury
  • Pleasantview

All rink pads are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled for ice resurfacing and buildings are open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

December 31st, 2009
All rink pads are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled for ice resurfacing and buildings are open to 8:00 p.m.

Exception: Nathan Phillips Square Staff are scheduled. Building is open until 12:00 midnight.

January 1st, 2009
All rinks pad are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled for ice resurfacing and buildings are open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Exceptions: Nathan Phillips Square
Open regular operating hours. Staff are scheduled. Building is open.

Exceptions:

  • Broadlands
  • Glen Long
  • Irving Chapley
  • Ledbury
  • Pleasantview

All rink pads are open for skating during regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Staff are scheduled. Buildings are open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Exception: - Albert Campbell Square Open regular operating hours. Staff are scheduled. Building is open.

Earlier we had an exchange of e-mails and conversations about keeping front doors of the Giovani Caboto (JJP) and West Mall rinks open when Parks staff are dedicated on-site and in the buildings. While I don't think it is fair to characterize it as peculiar, as the staff do have some legitimate concerns based on experience about the need to deter vandalism/mischief within the building, I do understand the sentiment that we are providing a service to the public and want to make it as inviting as possible. I think it is also fair to acknowledge that other access points to both buildings are available so these buildings are by no means inaccessible, and we have not had any widespread requests about this before. Nonetheless, I am willing to give it a try and have instructed that when dedicated Parks staff are on these sites (JJP - Saturday and Sunday 7:00 am to 3:00pm, and 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, 7 days; and West Mall - 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, 7 days) the front doors be unlocked during the hours of rink operation. If problems do arise, we will revert back to the previous operation.

You have also referred to school visit rules in some of your correspondence. Far from wanting to discourage participation or throw up barriers to school groups seeking a pleasurable skating and learning experience, our division seeks to maintain quality, accessible services especially to younger members of our diverse communities. What seems to get lost is a recognition of the impacts an influx of skaters can have on maintenance scheduling, as well as coordinating other users. Incidents happen each year when large groups arrive at a rink unannounced and we are not equipped to adequately accommodate their demands. Instances of inadequate capacity when two or more such groups arrive at the same location have also occurred. These problems can be easily avoided and the experience of all involved improved through advance notice. We will work with the school boards on this aspect.

Finally, Jutta, I want to reiterate what I've told you in previous conversations. I am working aggressively with the General Manager and the Parks management team on quite a number of parks operations matters, including related to outdoor rinks (which Malcolm and I are collaborating closely on), with the simple goals of improving our service to the public and working as efficiently as possible. We are working to address the maintenance operations, resource balancing, and other concerns you have raised in your various e-mails.

From: Jutta Masom

Date: Dec 18, 2009

Hello Andy,

1. Thank you, I did get that updated holiday schedule from 311 at 2.15. Having ALL the rinks unlocked on the stat holidays, and staffed at least on Boxing Day, is a turnabout from the previous practice in much of the city -- it's a big improvement. Have you directed staff to advertise this schedule in neighborhoods that have grown used to their rinks being locked?

2. Am I to conclude from your letter that you are saying NO to my request for the Giovanni Caboto Rink follow-up meeting?

3. Brenda says that your commitment to have 3 daily ice resurfacings at Wallace, never yet achieved, is hampered by sickness and an absence of staff (vacancies). Is there a timing on the projected improvement? If you want to monitor the progress yourself over the winter (also for repairs still not done) Wallace Emerson Rink Diary 2009-2010

4. Re "no widespread requests" for front doors being unlocked: With respect, how do you know? Nobody has been at home in the rink management for a long time. To track our monitoring: Giovanni Caboto Rink We're a few days behind in posting but we always catch up. Insofar as people give you feedback (vote) with their feet, Giovanni Caboto and West Mall are both remarkably lower in usage than they ought to be.

The ombudsman's office has today opened the door for us to put our outdoor rinks case together. In terms of your reminder that the 311 line and also your staff are sometimes swamped -- we ourselves are working very hard to monitor your Division's outdoor rink performance. We know a great deal about school visits, ice making, staff deployment, capital work, etc. that would have been very useful to you. It could have been fun to make some simple improvements through friendly collaboration. But -- sadly -- you have not chosen to make use of the resources we were offering for free. Sad for us too, to have to take the route of opposition -- after all this time and effort, years of it. Rinks as well-used social spaces for neighbourhoods all over the city, spaces for joyful activity for everybody, under the open sky -- still waiting.

From: Jutta Mason

To: Andy Koropeski
Date: 1/20/2010 10:54 AM

Hi Andy -- is it possible for your staff to send this to me? We need the regular maintenance schedule of rink visits by the flying squads to the single-pad boarded outdoor rinks in Toronto/East York, broken down into areas, rinks, and day/evening shifts.

Thanks

From: Andy Koropeski

To: Jutta Mason
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 13:58:27 -0500

Hi Jutta:

Further to your request below, and a number of other rink matters you have raised, I want to provide a brief update on behalf of all the groups of Parks, Forestry and Recreation that provide service to the outdoor ice rink program.

Fly-squad Schedules and Wallace Emerson Ice Maintenance
Please see attached schedule for target ice maintenance times provided by the fly-squads. As noted the schedules may be impacted on any given day by staff illness, equipment issues, traffic, weather etc. Today for example, our zamboni had a breakdown, causing the schedule to be disrupted. Nonetheless, our staff strive to achieve these times. Related to another concern you have raised, namely better communication between the on-site rink program staff and the ice maintenance staff on the fly-squads, we are finalizing a communications protocol that we hope will be in place next week, including that the fly-squad would contact the on-site staff in the event the schedule is disrupted. Details are still being worked out.

I also note that by next week, we will have finalized changes to the operation whereby ice maintenance equipment will be positioned at the Wallace Emerson rink and staff schedules will be adjusted to provide a better level of service at that location. In conjunction, we are exploring means of providing shelter for the equipment that will enable a more permanent solution.

Rink Schedules and Communication
As you know, we have also been working to make schedule information available at each rink more concise, informative and consistent in format across the entire system. These schedules are currently being posted at the rinks and specifically note: times when ice pad open for use (9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, daily, system-wide); times when buildings, ie., change room/washroom, open for use; and programming/activity schedule for the particular rink. With respect to building openings, our eventual goal is to have all building times corresponding to opening of the ice pads. This involves re-scheduling of some staff, and may also involve some buildings being unattended for some periods, as is the case in Etobicoke York district.

Further to your specific request about Greenwood rink, the schedule has already been adjusted and the building is open at 9:00 AM.

Other improvements now being pursued are standard signage for the rinks, and bulletin/notice boards for city rink and community postings at all rinks.

With respect to concerns about the timely update of web information, it is an issue with other programs as well as outdoor ice rinks. Our PF&R staff are working with the other City parties involved and are attempting to streamline the existing processes to ensure better accuracy.

Greenwood Rink
In addition to opening the building earlier as noted above, a number of other improvements were carried out in response to the items you forwarded to me:

  • repairs to matting/cut to size.
  • lights on until 11:00 PM. at night. Not left on past 11:00 PM in residential areas.
  • change rooms are heated and not the main entrance room, so staff are trying to leave change room doors open to filter warm air into this area.
  • placed benches outside the change room so patrons can change into skates and have additional seating.
  • water fountain pressure has been adjusted to deal with overflow concern.
  • garbage bags removed and building staff instructed regarding care of the building and area walkway.

These repairs have been well received and we are still looking at other suggestions that were made subsequently.

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.

Family Day
Our Division is finalizing Family Day schedules and the information will be provided to 311 and the web-site.

Helmet Policy
I am advised that our policy staff and program staff affected by this matter continue their evaluation and due diligence of the current helmet policy, involving consultation with the City's Risk Management group. This also includes program visitations to make observations. A report is to be prepared by May this year.

We are continuing to move on a number of fronts to improve operation of the outdoor ice rink program both for the balance of this season, as well as more substantive aspects (scheduling, equipment, staffing, roles and responsibilities, operating models, programs, etc.) longer term, and as noted have implemented a number of positive enhancements this year. As Malcolm and I have noted, our goals continue to be providing good quality ice surfaces, inviting ancillary amenities and quality programs. This is a continuing process, and I look forward to receiving ongoing feedback from you, as your input and advice have certainly helped focus our efforts.

Regards, Andy.


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