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posted March 20, 2008

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March 19, 2008: last rink stories of the season

Last outdoor rink message for now. The stories here are longish, but shorter than a good shinny game or a skate under a starry sky. Keeping up with the twists and turns in the rink saga has come to be an important element of good skate care, sadly, so please read on:

1. Outdoor rinks in March: Yesterday, CELOS sent a letter to every councillor who voted on the question of re-opening all 49 outdoor rinks to the end of March break. Most outdoor rinks don't keep good ice in March unless they have a high-rise to the southwest to shade them, like City Hall.

The plan to re-open them all would have cost about $500,000. See March Rink Costs Math. That's our math. The city's math is confusing -- Councillor Ootes called me today and said that a city staff person had given him the figure quoted in the Sun: $40,000. But a freedom of information response from the City to CELOS last November, says that their rink cost calculations are even higher than our estimate of half a million -- the city's numbers added up to over $700,000 for two weeks: see Cost Of Running Outdoor Rinks

Dufferin Rink was one of the 8 rinks already scheduled to stay open. Even so, it had to be closed for 40% of the time during the extra two weeks, because of unskateable ice. Here's our colourful information bulletin (pdf). Outdoor rinks are designed to be open from mid-November to the end of February -- pass it on!

2. The zamboni operator turf/ lead hand plan: Those of you who wrote to the City about the rink restructuring will have got a form letter in response, reiterating that this unfortunate plan is "revenue neutral." Some of the city's zamboni operators have now unlocked that puzzle for us They got frosty letters saying their position has been "deleted." see Zamboni Operator Deletion. In order to create higher-paying full-time jobs for the lead hands from the grass-cutter crews, a click of the mouse got rid of the city's existing outdoor rink workers. The slate is wiped clean, of the bad and the good together.

This way of proceeding is not going down well with the workers, hence the general manager's comment that she can't give any more details because of current talks with the unions. However a bulletin on the Local 416 web site today makes it sound as though there's really not much talking happening with the unions either: see Parks Restructuring Update Jan 11 08 (pdf) from the 416 union.

CELOS has had the same trouble as the unions, in attempts to collaborate. People who skate at the rinks, or who work there, want to talk to management about the outdoor rinks, but it seems like there's nobody home.

Here's what one of the best zamboni operators told us during a last-day rink visit: see Hodgson Rink Rink Diary 2007-2008

The confused and damaging situation at outdoor rinks needs Council's attention, but so far no luck. If you want to have another kick at the can, just copy this e-mail and paste it into the councillors' e-mail address(es) -- pick and choose from the list or get everybody in one e-mail: see Tell Your Councillor

Jutta Mason

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Content last modified on March 20, 2008, at 06:41 AM EST