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posted December 9, 2005

Letter from a world Traveller

Canada has international reputation for hockey - open rinks sooner

[Letter addressed to local city councillor Adam Giambrone] Mr. Councillor. My name is Dave Bidini, writer/musician. I've written 5 books for McClelland and Stewart, two of them about hockey. I've also produced two hockey films: The Hockey Nomad and the Hockey Nomad Goes to Russia. In the first film, we travelled to Ulaan Baatar, where we met folks madly in love with hockey who were forced to flood their city's only rink in minus 30 degree weather. In Russia, we went to Kazan, where a local truck driver, Battan, devoted his entire wages to building the city's first indoor arena. In Dubai, I played with Arab kids on the desert; in China, I skated with 80 year olds who brought their gear to the rink in shopping bags.

In every country, they upheld Canada and Toronto as the model for a hockey utopia. They dreamed of coming here in winter and skating on our myriad of rinks. Because of global warming, there are fewer natural ice patches, so we rely on our city rinks to uphold this hockeytopia. Please consider Toronto's international reputation when you're deciding whether or not to open the rinks early or late. I feel that the Dufferin Grove opening date was more in line with this vision than this Saturday's, which is far too late. Recreational hockey and the city's great array of rinks represent Toronto to the world as much as the CN Tower or the work of Glen Gould.

Please keep this in mind.

- Dave Bidini

City Rinks Responses

Why cant I play at Broadlands rink?

Hello A, Thanks for copying on your email to the rink supervisor who was suggested by 311. Broadlands Rink is unfortunately in the North Toronto rink region -- unfortunate only because that region has the worst record of any of the Toronto outdoor rinks regions for providing drop-in shinny hockey access, especially for adult tax-payers like you and your father. The three single-pad boarded rinks in North Toronto collectively offer 3 hours a week for evening or weekend drop-in adult shinny. And as you noted, Broadlands is the worst of those three rinks, offering nothing at all outside of people's normal work time. Even worse, when there is no permit on the weekends, they may just lock the rink. The compressors are still running, using power, but the ice is not accessible to skaters. Most of the city's other boarded outdoor rinks do much better than that.

It's hard to imagine any way of justifying the North Toronto situation. Part of the problem with this scenario is that people just give up trying to use their neighbourhood rink -- it's well-know that Canadians are often reluctant to complain -- and so the person(s) in charge of scheduling feel that people don't mind if they can't get access despite paying taxes. (And the taxes are considerable: an article in the Globe yesterday pegged the operating cost of Toronto's outdoor rinks at $6 million a season.)

By the way, is NOT a municipal website -- we're rink enthusiasts who want the outdoor rinks to be as good as they can be. That's why we call ourselves the unofficial website of the outdoor rinks. And the zamboni operator was not complaining to us when we visited in November -- just answering an obvious question as we watched his old clunker leaking mushy snow onto the ice.

Please let us know whether "[email protected]" addresses the problem you have pointed out here. You may also want to forward your email yourself to your city councillor's office: [email protected]. If you follow it up with a phone call top their office, there's more chance of getting their attention: 416-397-9256.

Jutta Mason

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Content last modified on May 03, 2014, at 05:36 AM EST