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RE: Christmas Day, Boxing Day 2008 at Ramsden

In the days before Christmas, City staff reassured me twice, orally, that we would have adult hockey from 10am to noon on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Yearís Day. When told that these mornings would be staffed by Recreation, for which I was appreciative, I agreed that there was no need for me to volunteer to open up the facility and, hence, no need for me to have Jonah go to the trouble of getting me a key. I then looked forward to our game on Christmas morning. On Monday night, December 22nd, I informed about 30 players that the traditional Christmas morning game was on.

I phoned Christmas morning to check that the facility was open and ready to receive us. The staff who answered, with music blaring in the background, shocked me when he told me that adult hockey would not begin until the afternoon. When I told him there must be a mistake, that I had been promised adult hockey from 10am to noon, he appeared not to hear. I asked him politely to turn down the radio so that we could hear each other. The loud music continued but he never turned down the volume and he never continued the conversation. I stayed on the phone for 5-10 minutes but he never responded.

I phoned a supervisorís cell phone and he very kindly responded even though it was Christmas morning. He phoned the Rec staff person and informed him that we had a deal and that we should have the ice for adult hockey as promised. Unfortunately, by this time, it was too late to notify our group and hope to get a response.

At 11am, I got in the car and went to Ramsden. I met Building Attendant Al Zarnett in the staff office. I asked him if he was the person I had spoken with an hour earlier, and if he was the person the supervisor spoke with earlier. He denied both conversations, said he had only come on duty at 11am, said he did not know any staff person who could have received those calls. Moreover, he refused to identify himself.

I did not treat him uncivilly. I was business-like and polite. In contrast, he was rude, marshaled me to the door and closed it in my face. Outside the door, I noticed that he had put out a Ramsden schedule for the years 2006-2007, two years out-of-date. A few minutes later, he came out and I suggested that he not distribute a schedule two years old.

I returned to play hockey at 2pm. When I arrived, I learned that another Ramsden regular, a senior business executive, had been trying to reach me by cell phone. Zarnett had refused to give out shovels to this person so that volunteers could clear severely chipped ice. Initially, the staff person said the scrapers were locked in another room and he did not have a key. (Earlier the supervisor had informed me that the key for the Olympia/Zamboni area where the shovels are sometimes stored is either the same key as the one for the buildings or is a key on the same ring. This suggests that the staff person was misleading this player.) When he pointed out that the shovels and scrapers were in the room with the staff, Zarnett still refused to release them. And he was still distributing two year old schedules that made no sense.

When the player told me about this, I phoned the Parks Supervisor again. He tried to reach Zarnett on the phone. Zarnett did not answer the call. The Parks supervisor then told me that he was coming to the rink. When he and a Recreation supervisor arrived, Zarnett had apparently left the premises although he was on duty. Finally, Zarnett was spotted about 20-30 minutes later and the two Rec supervisors, talked to him at some length.

The Parks super then promised that we would have the ice from 9am to 11am the next day, i.e. Boxing Day, that the ice would be perfect, that his staff would be there the next morning at 7am, and would repair the ice and would open up for us at 9am before the Rec staff appeared. The next morning, to his everlasting credit, the Parks supervisor came to the rink sometime around 7am and the Olympia operator, Randy Hedgeman, repaired the ice. In fact, it was the finest surface I have seen in several years at Ramsden. Please compliment Randy on our behalf again. I did so at the time.

Around 10am, it started to snow hard. Within about 10 minutes, we could not continue because of snow cover. I got the shovels from the rink guard, George Lambracos (sp?), a cooperative, communicative, superb employee, and I organized the players to shovel. It took us over an hour to clear the rink. It was hard slogging. Had we not done so, no one could have used the rink. The Olympia had broken down, again.

At 11am, it was time for the kids to come on the ice, but there were only 2 or 3 kids waiting. We in fact had three youngsters playing with us. It was a lovely inter-generational game. I spoke to the one parent there at the time and she agreed to the following suggestion. I told her that because we had lost an hour of our time shoveling and because the kids could not play had we not shoveled, that we would shorten our playing surface to the two thirds of the rink and allow the youngsters to have one third of the ice to play their hockey. She appreciated our efforts, and thought this was fair. We shortened our goals to start to play.

When George told me a couple of parents were concerned about the adults playing, I went to the dressing room and explained the situation and the compromise suggested to the parents. Two of the three parents present said our plan was most fair. The third parent was extremely oppositional but agreed to allow us to play for a period. I was later told this guy sat in the dressing room for a long time and watched us do all the work, then claimed his right to stick rigidly to the schedule (and, I guess, his right to benefit from our hard slogging). He was not willing to be fair.

This parent then interfered with our game by continually going outside the 35 percent of the surface that we were protecting for him and his son and getting in the way of the play. Several players let him know what they thought of his selfish behaviour. Ultimately, his complaining ended our play. Rink guard, George, was very diplomatic as he tried to work things out.

Two days in the life of Ramsden.


Garfield Mahood, OC
196 MacPherson Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1W8
Tel: 416-964-6279

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