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Rink Diary 2009 - 2010

Dec.5 2009

High 1, low -5 Ramsden Rink had the pleasure-skating pad open but the hockey side closed. The building attendant said they had flooded in the morning.

The rink house is set up in a better way, integrating part of the old zamboni drivers' office into the changeroom, and making the staff visible to the rink users. The room is painted in the Maple Leaf blue and white. The toilet stalls and even some of the park benches outside have been repainted Maple Leaf blue. There are many signs up, advertising an event for Tuesday December 8 which will close the rink to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 pm -- the Leafs will be coming there to practice. The pleasure-skating side of the rink will be closed all day Monday too, maybe to prepare things (set up bleachers on the ice?) The signs are confusing, since the main poster also advertises a "community skate" during the event.

Outside there is still trash and a bit of rubble from the construction, but the rink is basically ready to go, once the ice is thick enough.

12 noon: hockey pad closed

pleasure-skating pad open

changeroom wall removed to make more space

office counter

Maple Leafs colour and logo

park bench repainted Maple leaf blue

rink closed notice

helmets courtesy of CN

practice and "community skate"

remains of work crew
Sunday Dec.6 2009

Ramsden Rink opened on the hockey pad.

Dec.8 2009

The Toronto Maple Leafs came to the rink to do a practice. Here is the Toronto Sun Article

Saturday Dec.12 2009

From R.Y.:

Once again the Ramsden Rink is open, and I am glad the rink had a facelift for the kids to watch the Leafs practice.

But once again the gates remain open and once again last night at 1:30 AM some people were shooting the puck into the boards and once again I awoke from all the noise. I find it very disconcerting and very insensitive for all the residents living in the area.

So I would again like to mention please lock the gates when the rink closes. If over $200,000.00 was spent for the facelift then I cannot see any problems with someone to LOCK THE GATES.!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot go through another season of being awaken in the middle of the night, being stressed out, and calling the police

I would very much like this matter resolved.\ASAP.

Reply from cityrinks:

Oh dear -- the middle-of-the-night hockey is starting again, eh? Lucky Boothe is no longer the manager in charge of City recreation staff who may lock Ramsden Rink. It's now Kelvin Seow.

Also, the zamboni drivers who may lock the rink at night are supervised by Peter Leiss. So you could write to him. Either of them would be able to direct their staff to lock the gates at night, and to ask for a follow up visit by the City's security staff. The City also has by-law officers who have the power of giving tickets to people for noise and trespass.

Sorry this frustrating problem is not solved after all your efforts last year. Hopefully one or both of these folks will be able to nip it in the bud.

Sunday Dec.13 2009

From I.G.: ''I've been living with pre-traumatic stress disorder about the rinks since the weather turned cold. My apartment is right over them. Happily with the newly installed sideboards, I haven't been bothered by ricocheting pucks. I did hear the game in the dark as well, but I sleep year-round with Rexall's wax and cotton earplugs so again was not disturbed....I temper any irritation I might have by hockey pucks thinking that the players are engaged in a wholesome activity and are staying out of trouble.

Tuesday Dec.15, e-mail from R.Y. to Recreation manager Kelvin Seouw:

After speaking with you yesterday, the Ramsden Rink remained unlocked and once again I awoke to sound of pucks hitting the boards. It is getting to the point of being ridiculas. Such a simple task of locking the gates cannot be accomplished. I cannot understand why and do not care anymore.. I did not want these players ticketed but have now changed my mind, it is creating havoc in my home and on my family. (getting only a few hours of sleep) I want it to STOP!

From R.Y. to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Dec.21 2009

There was music all day coming from Ramsden Rink and it is still going on. I face the rink and I heard it go on the whole. If it is a one time thing fine, I hope this does not go on. Having dinner, watching tv and then we have to hear this numbing Noise all day.

What is going on!!!!!!

From Recreation staff Yota Lambrakos to R.Y. Dec.22 2009

In response to your email- I've called the rink staff onsite at Ramsden today and our Rink Coordinator to get some information. I have been assured that there is no music playing today.

Often music is playing for the enjoyment of the skaters on the rink. It is my understanding that this is why there was music playing yesterday- we will certainly ensure that the music is kept at an acceptable level during the day and that all staff understand this. After 6pm I've asked that the music is turned down even lower to make sure that the community is not be disturbed.

Thank you for your patience and your email. Please feel free to contact me regarding this issue if noise persists.

From R.Y.

The music is new and quite frankly I do not want it playing at all. It is disturbing where I cannot enjoy living in my own apartment. There was never any music before and there should not be any music now. I am going crazy with all this. The guys playing hockey don't care if there is any music and I am sure the skaters do not care.

this is my third year with the rink issues and I've had it. Some nights I have to call the police and I get minimum sleep because of this, and now I have to listen to music playing. This is unacceptable. I want the music to stop, not turned down but stopped completely, it's offensive and disturbing.

E-mail from G.M. to Ramsden rink users, Dec.25 2009

I regret to report that the promise made by City Staff that the ice at Ramssden would be left clean and flooded from last night was not kept.

The gates to the rink are open, that is all. I would not try to play on ice like that.

Wednesday Dec.30 2009

Numbers at 5 pm: 38 pleasure-skaters, and on the other side there were 10 shinny players on the ice with 5 in each player's box. One puck, one game, and fast. No one one the ice was wearing a helmet, although some in the boxes had them.

The rink guard said that at the beginning he would go up to everyone and tell them to wear a helmet, but he tired of always starting over again. Whenever he wasn't looking, people would take them off. "And yet" -- he said -- "it's much safer to wear a helmet, and then the city won't get sued."

But he said that when he himself plays shinny hockey, he doesn't wear one.

Inside the clubhouse there were 11 more people, changing into our out of their skates. The window into the staff room had the metal cover pulled down so you couldn't talk to the staff that way, but you could see them because of the glass door.

Holiday schedules were posted, although they had the dates wrong -- Thursday was listed as New Year's Day, when it's actually Friday, etc. The zamboni driver said he was at work on Boxing Day but there was no rink guard. He'll be there again on New Year's Day but again he has the impression that there will be no other staff. Although the 311 line says that rink buildings will be open until 8 on New year's Eve, the zamboni driver said he plans to close Ramsden at 6 and then spend the remaining time doing ice maintenance.

An unhappy person wrote in asking about the holiday schedule. It's not on-line, and 311 doesn't have it either. The writer said s/he had tried the rink off and on for 6 hours, but the line was always busy. Maybe it's disconnected.

Email to CityRinks, from A.R., Dec 30:

I've tried calling the rink number to get the holiday shinny schedule. But the number has been busy. For the last 6 hours.

Dec.31 2009

Email cc'd to CityRinks, from G.M. to Ramsden shinny hockey players: We had problems this morning at Ramsden. The change rooms were locked and to the dismay of a few people, there was a conflict between the on line holiday schedule and the one posted at the rink. An hour ago, after a few phone calls, I got the building open. Now if we could stop the rain.

For years we had a great game of adult hockey on Jan.1 morning. Last year the rink was closed. We wont that time back for this year but there was only one hour allotted for adult hockey, not enough time when 25 people show up. We almost always have two hours. Tomorrow, Level 4 adult hockey is scheduled for 10-11am with the rink closed beforehand. In my talk today with senior manager, Peter Leiss, he offered to send his staff to Ramsden on New Year's Day at 8am to prepare the ice and to allow Level 4 hockey from 9-11am, a two hour slot. The building will be open.

Peter has never let us down. He jumped through hoops last year to correct problems for us. So, despite the Dec.25 fiasco and City broken promises, and weather permitting, I will be there at 9am for what may be a resumption of what used to be a tradition, our New Year's Day morning game.

I expect the serious among us to be out. Short of sleep perhaps, but on the ice. See you at 9am.

Friday January 1, 2010

Numbers sample: St 1.40 pm, there were 17 shinny players (little kids and dads, 3 dads without helmets), 21 pleasure-skaters, and 31 people inside changing. There were no rink guards on duty, only the zamboni driver, but he had unlocked the building anyway.

pleasure-skating side

shinny hockey -- little kids' time

January 7, 2010, e-mail to CityRinks from J.C.

I was at Ramsden this afternoon (1:30) expecting to go for a skate. But when I got there, the practice ice was filled with a class. Nice that they were getting skating lessons, but I couldn't get on the ice at all. I couldn't find any sort of schedule for the practice pad (just the shinny rink).

I couldn't find anyone to ask you know anything about classes booking the practice ice? Can they just arrive and occupy it? I'd just like to know in advance so I don't waste a trip.

January 10, 2010, e-mail to J.C. from CityRinks

I'm curious -- did staff actually ask you not to skate while the school class was on the ice?

I've cc'd city recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, who can perhaps clarify what happened.

January 10 2010, email from J.C. to CityRinks

No no one asked me not to skate. It was simply impossible -- the kids were lined-up along the fence, and once skating began they took up the entire surface. When I called the next morning to find out if this was going to be happening again, or if there was a schedule, I was told 'no schedule' and that an entire class would have a permit and normally there would be a posting. As far as I can tell, neither happened.

I understand this is public ice and we all have to share, I just want to know when it is and isn't available.

January 10 2010, e-mail from CityRinks to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro

Sounds to me like the most straightforward solution here would be using the phone line with voice mail. Just like they do at Dufferin Rink, and at all the North York rinks. Example: "This is Ramsden Rink on Tuesday January 12. The ice is in good condition. Today the pleasure-skating pad has a school group from 9.30 to 11.30, so it may be very crowded at that time. For any more information, please leave you name and number and staff will return you call."

The other important part of this is that staff change the message in time for the next day. They have time to do that. And -- of course -- the phone number has to be public. Easy!

Let me know too if the Ramsden rink managers want to make that work, I hope so!

January 12 2010, e-mail from T.K. to CityRinks

I went to Ramsden last night (Monday) in hopes of catching some beginner women's shinny, but the hockey pad was occupied by a very fast-paced, advanced group of guys. I and a couple of other women who showed up for the same thing were told by the staff person there that the schedule on the City website is wrong and there is no women's slot on Mondays, but there is one on Tuesdays (at the same time, 7-9, as I understood). I am not even sure if this information is correct, but perhaps you may know whom to contact to get a certain answer and amend your online schedule as necessary. It is pretty irritating that the City posts an erroneous schedule and then does not bother to fix it. This is a good way to kill a women's slot: first post a wrong schedule, and then when no one shows up on the "right" date claim that women are not interested in playing shinny, so ice time should be taken away from them. If you could let me know whom I could contact to have this fixed, it would be helpful.

January 13 2010, e-mail from D.C. to CityRinks:

I called Ramsden Park to verify the time for the Womens Shinny Beginner and it has moved to Tuesday nights from 7pm 845pm.

I was there last night and there were about 5 women and mostly men playing during our time. The shinny game started out friendly but got more aggressive and fast.

January 13 2010, e-mail from CityRinks to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro:

Can you bring this to the attention of the Ramsden supervisor? The problem now is one of enforcement of the schedule. If it's women's shinny, no men on the ice, right? Otherwise low numbers are guaranteed, as the word gets around.

January 13 2010, D.C. to CityRinks

I just spoke with Peter Lewis and advised him of the situation. He ensured me that the ice is for women and regardless of the number of women on the ice no one else has the time.

He is planning on going to the rink on Thursday and next Tuesday to remind the employees of their responsibility.

Friday January 15, 2010

At 5 pm there were 12 shinny hockey players (2 little kids with helmets, others without), 11 pleasure-skaters, and 3 people in the change room.

There was quiet radio music on the p.a. outside.

Inside the change room there are a couple of small signs about mandatory helmets, but the standard metal sign with all the other rules is not there. The hatch opening into the staff room is always shut now; the staff said the key to open it has been lost. So you can see into the staff room through the glass doors, but you can't talk to them unless you knock.

The ombudsman poster that was put up two weeks ago is gone. There used to be a bulletin board, but that didn't survive the reno. The staff said there was a schedule taped on the staff room door, but it's gone too. He said he couldn't let me put up a new poster until this was cleared by his superiors.

Saturday January 16, 2010

a beautiful skating day

even the hand dryer is painted blue

At 3.30 pm Ramsden Rink had ten shinny players on the ice (one with a helmet) and ten in the boxes (three with helmets), and a fast shinny game with only one puck. There were 31 pleasure-skaters, including some teenagers who were playing a game where six held onto a long scarf and pulled each other. There were 12 people inside, changing.

The rink has many banners to let skaters know about the contribution of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as painted logos inside and a blue-and-white theme so complete that even the hand-drier in the washrooms is painted blue.


the maple leaf forever

benches need repair and why face them away from the rink?

January 20, 2010, an e-mail from a rink user to Recreation supervisor Peter Lewis, cc'd to cityrinks

Mr. Lewis

Last night (January 19) I came out to Ramsden Rink to take advantage of the women's shinny time slot. First the good news: It was a huge success. We had 7 women come out to play, almost all of whom were first or second year hockey players - ie true beginners. All the women got to handle the puck a lot, practise their passing skills and shots. All the women said they enjoyed the shinny time immensely and the grins on their faces backed that up.

Now the not so good news: As the zamboni finished cleaning the hockey pad shortly after 7 pm, the guys were lined up to go back inside. When I spoke up and said that it was the women's shinny time slot I was immediately barraged by statements such as "well, how many women are there? The women in the change room said it was okay." And from a parent - "How can you deny my son (I'm guessing the son was round age 6) from playing?" etc etc. At that point I started to look for the rink staff who turned out to be one of the guys in this group - he had nothing visible to identify him as rink staff so I'm taking his word for it. He stated that last week the women had allowed the men to play. I said that was last week, and this week was different, and skated onto the ice.

The guys then remained at the gate to the hockey pad and proceeded to barrage each of the women as they came onto the ice. Literally the women had to run a gauntlet.

As we started our shinny game, the guys moved onto the pleasure skating pad and proceeded to pass the puck around on the pleasure pad. I believe I saw your rink staff person among them. A few of them stood at the fence and continued to argue that they should be allowed on. At one point, I was carrying the puck up the ice and these individuals started boo-ing. The situation pretty much continued until 8:25 when the zamboni came onto the ice again - even though we are scheduled to have the ice until 8:45. And I would have thought that the 15 minute slot between the women's shinny time and the 9 pm permit would have allowed enough time for maintenance. I also noted that all but two of the pleasure skaters left the ice by the time we headed into the change room.

I was also out last Tuesday (January 12) and it was true that we did agree to allow the guys to play with us. However, it was a disaster. The game was quite fast and agressive and the guys basically ignored us. I had left after about 30 minutes, having only touched the puck once or twice. It was completely inappropriate for beginner players - they didn't stand a chance and they gained nothing from the experience. This week was much more successful and simply demonstrates that this time slot is necessary to nurture these beginner players.

But this harrassment, and I do believe that what I've described above falls under the definition of harrassment, has to STOP. I am making you aware of this situation to enlist your help in stopping it.

Thursday January 21, 2010


January 21, 2010, e-mail from Deirdre Norman to Recreation Manager Kelvin Seow

It seems that when the women show up to take their allotted time they are not supported by rink staff and are harassed by the other rink users. The women have experienced verbal and physical intimidation. This is unacceptable at all levels and I am asking for you to take immediate steps to resolve this.

When we experienced similar harassment at Wallace, Tino acted immediately to ensure the safety of the women players as well as providing support for the staff at the rink who perhaps found themselves unsure of how to address the situation. We have never had significant problems since.

In no way is this kind of behaviour acceptable. Women are often too intimidated to come back. As someone who has been physically threatened by other rink users I want to assure you that this is not a misunderstanding. But I also know that it is a problem that can be solved with the right support.

Though I usually skate at Dufferin on Tuesdays I will be at Ramsden next week and I ask that you come out and see what is really going on. I would invite you to join us for a skate but it is women-only!

January 21, 2010, reply from Recreation manager Kelvin Seow to Deirdre Norman

I can assure you I am taking this issue very seriously. The harassment will stop. The type of behaviour that is described in the email is absolutely inappropriate and unacceptable. Rink staff will be provided with clear direction on expectations regarding supporting the women players. We will have a full time staff out to the next women's shinny time slot to provide support. I will also try to come out.

E-mail from F.R. to CityRinks Feb.3 2010

I am writing to let you know what a fun time friends and I had at the women's shinny session at Ramsden park yesterday evening. This is the second week that I've made it out for the Tues evening women's shinny at Ramsden and it has been great both times. There's a good turn-out, at least 15 women, ranging from complete beginners to more experienced players. Everyone plays well together, encouraging the beginner players and making sure that everyone gets involved in the play. There is a really nice friendly atmosphere about the whole evening. As it was snowing while we played the rink staff did a quick scrape of the ice surface with the zamboni halfway through our time while we kept warm in the change area. It pretty much stopped snowing then so we had nice clean ice for the last 45 min. It is really great to be able to play shinny with other women who just want to come out and have some fun and develop their skills. I hope to get back for many more of these Tues evening sessions this year.

E-mail from R.M. to recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Feb.26 2010

I'm writing to inquire about what rules currently exist to insure ice access for those who wish to skate without feeling threatened by sticks and pucks. I live within a few minutes walk of the rink. Two years ago when I bought new skates, I was extremely excited about the prospect of getting some great exercise through the winter months. I noted that the ice is divided into two areas, one boarded for shinny and the other, presumably, for the use of those who just want to skate. Is there a schedule that includes time set aside on the fenced / unboarded ice where one can be guaranteed some time to enjoy the ice without dodging pucks and sticks and their handlers?

The first winter I had my skates I found that more often than not, the fenced / unboarded ice was monopolized by half a dozen kids with wild sticks and a puck or two making it nigh on impossible to free skate without constantly veering one way or the other to avoid a loose puck or several people who have suddenly stopped / changed direction / backed up to chase one.

I was a lot less excited about my prospects for free-skating last winter, and couldn't help but notice the domination of pucks and sticks on the ice whenever I was heading home through the park and thinking about my skates hanging up in the closet. "What a great day for an hour of skating! Oh. I guess not." I didn't skate in Ramsden Park once last winter, although I freely admit that had I written this letter last winter instead of waiting this long I might have found a solution to my problem.

I have never seen any kind of schedule posted outside; perhaps I'm not looking in the right place?

I did get my skates sharpened again this year and enjoyed a couple of great skates on two rare occasions when I was able to try the ice at 2pm on a weekday. I went again last Friday night between 9pm and 9:30 and spent an intensely aggravating 10 - 15 minutes dodging sticks and pucks: about half a dozen kids +1 puck + two young fellas + another puck all of whom were completely oblivious to the 8 or so people *trying* to "pleasure" skate around them. I gave up, and none too happy, took off my skates and went home. I haven't been back to the rink since. The reality of getting excited about a skate and creating space for it in a busy day only to be driven off by ice use which is completely incompatible with a free / pleasure skate is too disappointing. While I was getting my skates off I spoke with someone else who, like myself, was also trying to enjoy a free skate and felt just as bothered as I do by the whole thing.

I feel I should add that I love sticks and pucks and shinny shenanigans! I am about to tuck into a great game between Canada and Slovakia. I think it's great that there's ice in the park for hockey-lovers, and I wouldn't dream of interfering with it or expecting a piece of it. All I'm wondering is why the other piece isn't similarly dedicated (at least some of the time??) for the use of those who just want to skate.

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Content last modified on January 06, 2011, at 01:52 PM EST