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posted February 29, 2008


The Parks department is about to make the outdoor rinks more expensive to run. Outdoor rink manager Kevin Bowser already said that the rinks can't return to their ideal opening time of mid-November because the budget isn't there. Now it appears that the Parks department is making changes in zamboni staff that will add $250,000 to the cost of maintaining the ice (same amount of maintenance). The system is nicer for the staff but worse for the rink users -- and leaves even less money to open the rinks in time.

Here is the letter CELOS sent to Brenda Librecz, general manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, on Friday Feb.29 2008:

We are writing to ask you to put on hold your plan to hire 59 Parks staff for the new job of Leadhands (Parks), File #07-CSA14214 at the beginning of March, until the implications for the outdoor rink operations have been explored more closely.

Since we first heard about this from Kevin Bowser in January, we have been trying to bring the plan’s very serious problems to the attention of management, but we have been unsuccessful in getting a discussion. Now the deadline for committing to this decision is almost here.

Because this plan significantly increases all zamboni operator wages and adds 5 new operator positions, we calculate that it will add $250,000 to the ice maintenance costs of running the city’s outdoor rinks. Your director of management services wrote to us that this new front line structure is “revenue neutral.” How can this be? The director has not responded to our request to give financial details, rather than mere assurances.

In addition to the financial consequences of applying the more costly Etobicoke-style rink maintenance staffing to the whole city, this plan has serious structural problems. Some of the outdoor rinks are de-facto winter community centres, with multi-faceted demands. The lead hands of the grass-cutter crews will have the winter role of being in charge of these centres, as zamboni drivers. This is not viable in terms of their abilities. In our experience, the Etobicoke system is also very wasteful because of the many hours of down-time the operators have during every shift.

Last spring the Parks and Environment Committee directed your staff to work through the first CELOS outdoor rink report with us. So far Kevin Bowser has been the only management person to meet with us on this subject. Both of his meetings had the tone of “I will explain how we run the rinks.” The collaboration hasn’t begun yet.

Instead of working with us, it now appears that your division is preparing to take a big step backwards, from which it will be hard to recover. Please put this measure on hold now, and schedule the rink meetings we have been asking for.

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Content last modified on March 04, 2008, at 12:22 PM EST