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News 2008 - 2009



CELOS Rinks Cost Estimates

CityRinks cost estimate? for opening 14 rinks on November 21 2009: March 1, 2009. This letter was sent to Councillor Janet Davis, head of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, but received no acknowledgment or response.

CELOS rink season deputation, February 6 2009

On January 12, City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong proposed to Council’s “Community Development and Recreation Committee” that the city’s outdoor rinks be opened two weeks earlier next winter. They asked for a staff report, to be presented to the committee on February 6. This is something rink friends have been requesting for ten years, so it was time to make a deputation, in favour.


My name is Jutta Mason and I work with a small research group called “The Centre for Local Research into Public Space” – CELOS. Among other things, we run the website. I’ve come to talk to you today about the timing of the outdoor rink season. I’m here not because I’m an avid skater – I can’t skate – but because of my long-standing interest in the wintertime social possibilities, for all ages and cultures, of our neighborhood public rinks. Outdoor public rinks can be a great place for “community development.” As you know, Toronto has 49 outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks - more than any other city in the world. We’re set for skating together in the winter.

posted January 19, 2009

Councillor Minnan-Wong requests early rink openings.

In a letter to Councillor Janet Davis, the Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, Toronto Councillor Minnan-Wong has requested that outdoor rinks be opened early ("at the same time as Nathan Phillips Square").

Read the full text of the letter. Minnan-Wong's letter was formally received for consideration by the Community Development and Recreation Committee meeting of January 12. See Decision Document, page 8.

This website has been saying for quite some time that owing to the angle of the sun, it makes sense to open the rinks in early November, to end of February, rather than early December to mid-March as has been the case for the last few years.

See also

No chance of earlier rink openings until November 2010

The Community Development and Recreation Committee voted 3 to 2 to postpone any possibility of earlier rink openings until November 2010 Read more

posted January 01, 2009

Thanks Toronto! Thousands of you came to visit our website in December.
by Henrik Bechmann, Webmaster

According to Google Analytics, you visited 12,896 times in December 2008, about 2.75 times more than last year (our first year). In the process you viewed our website pages 54,688 times. And this doesn't count any downloads of our publications.

We're thrilled. Outdoor skating is a great Canadian activity, and Toronto is blessed with the most extensive set of outdoor rinks in the world. We hope that in some small way, together with you, we can make this skating resource a little more accessible and a little better for everyone, through the information provided on this website.

If you read the Google reports attached (see below) you'll notice that although visits were quite a bit lower last year, pageviews were sometimes even higher. That's because so many people worked so hard to get the basic content on the site last year. That work continues this year, but can now build on the foundation that was put in place last year.

Lots of people help put things on this website, but the main people are Jutta Mason, Aseel Al Najim, and Michael Monastyrskyj. There are now about 765 pages of information on the website (not including downloadable pdf's). See Site Map.

This website is supported through We're doing it with minimal financing -- money earned by the "Zamboni cafe" snack bar and skate lending program of Dufferin Rink.

Anyone interested in participating in the continued improvement and growth of this website is more than welcome to inquire, or just send us comments. Send us an email at [email protected].

Here are the Google Analytics reports for December 2008:

posted November 24, 2008

Extending Artificial Ice Skating Season 2008-2009

The Community Development and Recreation Committee recommends that weather permitting, the Outdoor Artificial Ice skating season of twelve weeks be extended at a total of 14 outdoor artificial ice rinks, as indicated in Attachment 1, for an additional two week period to March 15, 2009. Decision Document

This is the letter cityrinks sent to all the councillors on November 14 2008:

Dear Councillor Mihevc,

Last night Councillor Minnan-Wong's office made us aware of a staff report relating to the March extension of the outdoor artificial ice rink season. The item is scheduled to be considered at today's meeting of the Community Development and Recreation Committee: Outdoor Artificial Ice Rink Season. Councillor Minnan-Wong was aware of our long-term involvement with these rinks, as apparently no other councillor or PFR staff was, since we were not notified about this item. Sadly, none of us can change our schedules to come and depute. We will be tracking your committee's decision on this with interest, however. Here are our concerns:

The staff report says: "There are no financial implications arising from this report. The total operating cost of keeping 14 city-owned and operated outdoor artificial ice rinks open for an additional two week period in early March is $172,000."

But the need to find that extra money must be why Rec management has already sent out the order to close the rinks on Christmas Day this year and shorten rink hours on other popular winter holidays including the new Family Day.

The puzzling thing about this March rink plan is: why bother? As the staff report says, March break doesn't begin until March 16 in 2009, so the outdoor rinks won't be open during March Break anyway.

The staff report itself says that last March, keeping the rinks open had lousy results: "there were [only!!] 25 to 40 skaters on each rink per day.....During most days in March, the sunlight and warmer temperatures deteriorated ice conditions at all locations." We agree with this description, except that there were even fewer skaters at some of the rinks. Many of them were closed much of the time. CELOS Information Bulletin:City Outdoor Ice Rinks, March 2008

And yet the report says that staff recommend 14 rinks to stay open into mid-March this year, and every year from now on. If any committee member could question this recommendation, that would be a good idea.

See also Outdoor Rinks And Weather


Rink staff have been concerned for some time that the youth who play shinny hockey at outdoor rinks are dwindling in numbers at many city rinks. The rinks that focus on strict helmet rule enforcement for shinny hockey (i.e. not Dufferin Rink) seem to be losing skaters, who may be opting to stay at home and be couch potatoes instead. But city management have said they are worried about liability risk to the City, if they don’t bar skaters from playing shinny without a helmet.

City staff say they’re unsure about the actual number of claims against the city as a result of rink injuries. So CELOS applied to the City’s Corporate Access and Privacy office (freedom of information) to track down that number. The response was very reassuring. The City’s Risk Management Section has records of only two ice-rink injury claims, and neither of them happened during shinny hockey. Both injuries were during a full-equipment, full-contact hockey game in arenas. One player got a broken leg as the result of a body-check in 2004, the other got an on-ice beating during an MTHL game in 1999, resulting in a broken nose. The broken leg claim seems not to have been settled yet, The on-ice beating victim asked for $1.1 million but settled for $12,000 (grounds for the lawsuit was that the referees didn’t intervene until very late).

In CELOS’ search for ice rink injury hospital data, two more relevant things turned up:

(1) after mandatory helmets were introduced for full-contact hockey programs, head injuries went down for some years. Then, in the past half dozen years, head injury rates began to climb steadily again, despite the helmets, and spinal cord injuries have also increased. Body-checking seems to be the main occasion when serious harm is done. Sports medicine doctors conjecture that as hockey players add more body armour, they feel more invincible.

(2) Canadian hospitals injury data show a lot of “falls-on-ice” injuries. But it turns out that most of the falls are not on rinks, they’re on sidewalk ice. Winter is a slippery time! (For more details about sports injuries and hospital data, go to the media link on the website.)

Shinny hockey is a different game than full-equipment, full-contact hockey. In shinny hockey there is no checking, and no slapshots. It appears that there have never been any shinny hockey injury claims against the City. If mandatory helmet rules are causing many youths to stop playing drop-in shinny hockey at the rinks, the harm done to physical fitness may be greater than the good in protecting against the risk of concussions. CELOS will continue to urge City management and Councillors to attend to this problem.

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Content last modified on November 24, 2010, at 08:34 AM EST