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Rink Diary

2022 -2023

Dec.23, 2022

From Gar Mahood: Adult hockey is now scheduled from 1000-1200 every Saturday and Sunday including Dec.25, Dec.26, Jan.01 for the entire season. During holiday week, Dec. 27, 28, 29, 30, adult hockey is scheduled from 0900-1100, and the same time January 03, 04, 05, 06.

Dec.8, 2022:

There were cuts to the Ramsden adult hockey schedule on the website again this year. The main Sunday morning time was reduced from 2 hours to 45 minutes, despite promises last year (after a wide protest) that such cuts would not happen. This was followed up by Gar Mahood with a phone call and then a long meeting with supervisory staff. Staff holidays delayed a permanent correction, but it sounds like staff were listening.

 

 

Rink diaries from earlier years

2021 - 2022

Nov.27, 2021

Opened for the season


2020 -2021

COVID-RELATED RESTRICTIONS: To find out how to book a skating time, go to the city's outdoor rinks web page.
All shinny hockey has been removed except for Greenwood (and only children and youth are allowed there). The city's opening rules are described here and our rinks blog is here.

Nov.28, 2020

Opening day.

 

2019 - 2020

From Gar Mahood:

“When Ramsden was shut down and the repairs could not be effected for over 4 months before the season ended, I was suspicious. I put in an Access To Information request for all contracts with CIMCO, the company that manages Ramsden and the other rink ammonia compressor systems, all letters, emails etc. I was told the ATI costs would be over $1200, a cost that would have negated ATI rights for virtually all citizens. But they got the wrong guy. I was a leader for ATI laws in the 1970s and would have paid the bill myself. But my weekend shinny players chipped in generously and covered the entire bill.

I spent a week of work on hundreds of pages of documents, completed a seven page report, and concluded that there was City negligence. The City had been warned for over two years (as you wrote) and failed to complete the repairs. So we lost a valuable, expensive city facility for the entire winter season.”

Feb.25, 2020

The main news is that city staff had been warned by CIMCO for two years and didn't act until it was too late. Very common across the city.

The second piece of news is that it took ages for the ducks to be lined up in 2019 but that city staff were somewhat under the gun at the end. Also very common.

A surprise in Ramsden's case is that staff seem to have been remarkably casual about brine leaking. It must have been leaking into somewhere, presumably into the ground. I'm told that the provincial government (MOE) can impose very large fines (hundreds of thousands per day) for salt being spilled (except -- elephant in the room -- for road salt).

 

November
Nov.30, 2019 City of Toronto news release

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2019 /CNW/ - Today, Mayor John Tory was joined by Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 11 University-Rosedale) to launch the City of Toronto outdoor skating season at the newly upgraded Ramsden Park rink....Three revitalized outdoor rinks at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (200 Eglinton Ave. W.), Ramsden Park (1020 Yonge St.) and Westgrove Park (15 Redgrave Dr.) will....be open for the season....From Councillor Mike Layton: "It is wonderful to see the Ramsden Park rink revitalized as part of the many improvements that have been occurring at this exceptional urban park location."

After the event the rink was fairly empty. The boards have some new ads in addition to the many that were already there, and happy pictures of sports fans experiencing their "passion" for the Toronto Maple leafs hockey team. The ads are for the Toronto Maple Leafs, MLSE (Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment), Scotiabank, Canadian Tire, and Clutch Trucks. Just like a commercial hockey rink, although it isn't one. The zamboni has "GO LEAFS GO" emblazoned across the front. But public funds pay for almost all of the building and equipment and all of the running of these public rinks. The ads are window dressing.


cleaning up after the Nov.30 PR event

boards are full of ads
 
Nov.30, email from Gar Mahood to shinny hockey players

I have just returned from two trips to Ramsden this morning. There was a large meeting with Parks and Recreation management and I was lucky to connect. Even the Mayor’s staffer who handles rink issues and the CIMCO people who completed the repair of the refrigeration system (and the chillers) were on hand. In all of the years I have been involved with Ramsden, I have never seen such a serious full court press to open on time.

The rink will open tomorrow morning and the City is making Ramsden the focus of media attention. Mayor Tory will be there at 3:00 to meet the press.

We will have a Zamboni on site parked in the city maintenance building beside the main gate. It will be there because, although the cement has been poured for the curbing, the asphalt has not been put down and the main entrance is still fenced off. A Zamboni operator is supposed to be there all the time as in the past. I am told that Parks staff will be flooding this afternoon and into the night in order to build up the ice. The temperature is in our favour

Nearly all of the chain link fence blocking paths to the rink has been removed.....


2018 - 2019

The rink was closed for the season, except a handful of days when it was a natural ice rink.

Jan.27, 2019

Rink was listed as closed until noon today, then listed as open.

Jan.26, 2019

The rink was still listed as closed all day despite the very cold weather. A rink user wrote: For many of us, we have to carry our equipment / take ttc trips / drive out to the park to play. Nobody is going to do this if they can't know whether the ice will be open for us when they get there.

Jan.24, 2019

Despite the slushy weather yesterday, the rink was not listed as closed until today.

Jan.20, 2019

At 10 a.m. the snow had not been cleared from the hockey pad. The pleasure pad was cleaned because the Parks employee had been working on it with the Zamboni since 630 am.

On a day when natural ice would be operational, perhaps the best day for it of the year, it seems like Parks has not put in the staffing needed. The zamboni driver tried to get a tractor in there this morning but he said they are short-staffed. But there was too much snow for the Zamboni to pick up without clogging the augers.

The pylons are removed and the problems with the trapped water have been solved.

Jan.19, 2019

The ice is fully in. The nets are positioned on the ice. The rink was flooded at 9, before the snow, so everything is ready. The zamboni driver says he will scrape off the snow for a noon game if people come to play.

2.45 pm: About 6 or 7 skaters clearing some light snow and are getting ready to play. The staff said the ice is good to go and the north side is now repaired and very playable.

Jan.17, 2019

From G. Mahood: ....at 11am today and there were still pylons running the full length of the ice along the North boards. Because the pylons are at least 5-10’ out from the boards, about 20% of the ice surface is unplayable. Unplayable unless you are a slalom skier and would enjoy skating around the pylons.

The Parks people have been working very hard to give us natural ice but, after a week of work and yet no solution to the problem along the boards, I suspect we might be wise not to expect much natural ice play. After all, if there is a thaw and there usually is a thaw, we start back at zero because there is not much ice above the concrete.

Jan.15, 2019

A rink friend says there are people playing hockey.

Jan.14, 2019

photo by N.Cappell, Jan.14 7 p.m.

From N.Cappell, 7 p.m.: Just walking past now.

Jan.13, 2019

From G.Mahood: Lennox Morgan, a supervisor for the area rinks, has been out with his crew, even up to 11 pm or possibly all night on Saturday night, trying to get natural ice up and skatable. They are using hoses and Zamboni. Lennox was trying to solve a problem whereby water on the surface was freezing in the cold air but water next to the warmer concrete was not. This created huge problems near the North boards.

Jan.3, 2019, letter to Mayor John Tory from Gar Mahood

Dear Mayor Tory:

RE: Closure of the Ramsden Park skating pads for the season

I am writing on behalf of hockey players and pleasure skaters who are among Friends of Ramsden to express our disappointment about the closure of the Ramsden Park skating pads for the 2018-2019 skating season. Moreover, we are deeply dismayed by the lack of transparency related to the reasons for the closure.

Many Torontonians, including skaters who come from a considerable distance from Ramsden, looked forward to the opening of this recreation centre at the end of November. To our considerable disappointment, we discovered that it was closed for the season. This is not a closure for a little over three months for many of us. This amounts to a closure for an entire season or year.

Mayor Tory, Ramsden is not just an opportunity to play a little hockey or to take our kids for a skate. We have a community here. The social engagement, the physical exercise, the opportunity to be out-of-doors in the middle of often grey winter days, all combine to make Ramsden special.

Skaters having to move to other rinks, often distant from public transit, is seldom an acceptable response to closed skating pads. With hockey for example, players travelling to other already overcrowded rinks where 20 players are shoehorned into players’ benches often leave extremely disappointed with the lack of playing time. Others look at the numbers already present and walk or drive away.

For these reasons and more, this loss raises a number of questions about the equipment malfunction, not all of which may be answered by the freedom of information inquiry that we have just filed. Perhaps your staff can do some research and provide some answers.

Nov.23, 2018

Until this morning, Ramsden Rink was scheduled to open on Nov.24. But now the city's website has a message:

Critical mechanical issues with the refrigeration system have resulted in the unexpected closure of the rink for this year


2017 - 2018


 

2016 - 2017

Dec.9, 2017

This is the only central Toronto rink listed as closed this morning.

Dec.7 2016

Yesterday and today Ramsden Rink is listed as open "hockey side only."

Nov.29, 2016

This rink is listed as open for the first time today.

Nov.27 2016

At 11 a.m. the rink gates were open but it was not ready for skating. A friendly and courteous rink attendant explained to people inquiring, that the rink still needs one more day for floods but can probably open tomorrow.

The rink shows the evidence of not much water put on yet -- pebbly with a big space between the boards and the ice.


ice needs more floods -- too little there

mats not laid out yet
 
Nov.26, 2016

This rink never opened today, although on the schedule it was supposed to open.


2015 - 2016

March 12, 2016

This rink was scheduled to stay open until March 20, but was finally listed as closed for the season on March 12.

Jan.1, 2016

On the city's website schedule, Ramsden was blank for New Year's Day. That would ordinarily have meant the rink was closed completely, but it was open. There were lots of skaters and the change room building was open and full of people as well. Jimmie, the zamboni driver, said that they opened at 9 and started right off with a neighbourhood shinny game. Long-time rink advocate Gar Mahood was one of the players.


pleasure-skating pad

lots of people in the change room
 
Dec.29, 2015

All the city's outdoor rinks were closed today until later afternoon, because of the heavy, extremely wet snow. Ramsden was among the first bunch to re-open, around 5 pm.

Dec.27, 2015

This rink was marked as closed, on the city's website, on Christmas Day -- for the first time in years, since there has been a long tradition of a Christmas morning shinny game. The ice was most likely fine. Was it really closed? It was marked as open again on Boxing Day.

Nov.28, 2015

early evening skate on opening day

The rink was open with skaters on both sides. The operator, Rob, said that because of his work schedule they hadn't been able to start ice-making until Wednesday, but then they went over the rink every hour (but no night floods). There was still snow on the slab from before,and they were able to use that snow to build up the volume. They started with cold water for the first day and then went to hot water floods with the zamboni.

Rob said that he and his partner Jimmy have got their routine down to a science, and that he has had four letters from mayors, commending his work.

 

2014 - 2015

March 12, 2015

March 12, 2015: down to cement on the pleasure-skating side

Even though the temperature never got above 2 degrees today, there was full March sun, and the pleasure-skating side looked bad. At the time of our visit, the zamboni was grooming the hockey side, which looked pretty good although the zamboni made a crunching sound on the ice as it went around. There were very few people at the rink -- five skaters on the pleasure-skating side, two people inside, perhaps waiting for the hockey side to open.

 
Jan.1 2015 (New Year's Day)

At noon, the rink had plenty of skaters and the building was open. Staffing was a zamboni driver and a building attendant -- the driver, to maintain the ice, the building attendant to help keep the building open, so that skaters could change inside (it was a very cold wind) and store their equipment, and have washroom access as well. Their holiday hours for the building were 9 am to 6 pm. Meantime, most other downtown rinks had the change rooms/ washrooms locked. Why?


long-running continuous shinny hockey game

New Year's Day: building open and warm
 
Dec.26 2014 (Boxing Day)

The rink was open (not only the ice but the building too), as advertised on the city's website. Lots of skaters, plus the zamboni driver and one rink guard. Lively shinny hockey game -- every single skater was wearing a helmet -- very unusual at center-city outdoor rinks.


families out skating together on Boxing Day

choosing sides Dec.18. Photo: Ken Hundert
 
Nov.25, 2014

At 7 pm the ice looks terrific. Ramsden is one of the rinks that kept its ice despite the warm day on Nov.24.


good ice maintenance

parent and child shinny
Nov.21 2014

Ramsden's opening day has been moved up to Nov.22, even though the individual schedule on the city's website doesn't start until Nov.29. The ice looks good, and ready to start.


pleasure-skating side

unusual logo on the hockey gates: "lace up - stay sharp"
 

2013-2014

March 1, 2014

Good ice. Change room open. Some dads inside, talking stocks and hockey.


5.30 p.m.: kids' time: 6 plus one dad, all with helmets

five pleasure-skaters, good ice
 
December 3, 2013 - comments from rink user CA

I have no idea if this will be useful to you, but I just thought I would send some comments on Ramsden which I went to last night for the 5:30-8:15pm 19+ shinny...at least the 45 minutes of it I lasted for.

The ice condition was good, more than thick enough for a game. It was busy but well organized so quick changes and a fast pace even with 4 on the bench, although only briefly. Staff were incredibly friendly, helmets are mandatory, and they were able to lend me one (even said "no, thank you for wearing a helmet" after I had thanked them). They even treated a guy who was cut by an errant stick. Anyhow, A+ experience.

Rink Diary 2012-2013

See also: Editor's and Rink Users' blog

Ramsden Rink - Thursday December 6, 2012, sent by Will Lam

7pm-8:45pm Adult Shinny was quite crowded. Almost overwhelming numbers. It was 5-on-5 hockey and the benches could scarcely hold all the players waiting for their next change of shift. Still, the firm one puck rule is impressive as compared with Dufferin where multiple pucks and people playing in different corners of the rink -- and nearly running into each other -- is common.

A recently maintained surface was chewed up quite quickly with the amount of hard skating and the number of players. The ice maintenance is quite regular and frequent at this rink.


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Content last modified on January 24, 2023, at 07:25 PM EST