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Dear rink supporters,
After deputing at City Hall about the rink season on Feb.6, and meeting with the chair of the "Community Development and Recreation Committee" on February 20, I see more than ever that the outdoor rinks truly do NOT have a champion at City Hall, and they truly DO NEED one. Because of the budget pressures bound to come with the continuing financial sag, that's even more pressing. How to find her/him?
I'm getting pretty tired of this search, but still have a little effort left. If work and wages are going to become scarcer, it would be good (and cheap) at least to be able to go to the outdoor rinks and skate/play shinny/drink hot chocolate/catch up with your neighbours/enjoy your kids/clear your head. Not possible if the rinks are in bad shape.
Here's my report, first, about the February 20 meeting which all your e-mails caused to happen, with Councillor Davis. I had sent a suggested agenda on February 11, but when I got there last Friday I found that most of my questions were out of order. Councillor Davis said that she only deals with recreation matters, and rinks are carved up to fit into three different administrative sections. The issues around inequitable ice maintenance between different rinks were not Recreation issues, she said -- they belong to Parks and would properly be dealt with at that committee. When I told her that last year, the chair of the Parks Committee (Paula Fletcher) had taken our rink report off her agenda because (she said) the jurisdiction over outdoor rinks had been transferred to the C.D. and Recreation committee, Councillor Davis said she had not been aware of that and would have to check into it. Here are the minutes that the Councillor's office sent after the meeting.
So the only items in the agenda that were addressed at the meeting were
1. the extremely limited public (free) access in some of the North York outdoor rinks. A phone call during the meeting resulted in shinny hockey access increased to half the non-prime, weekday hours before 3.30, still none on weekends.
2. the final item in the agenda, about future revenue targets for outdoor rinks. Councillor Davis asked me not to publish her response, so you'd have to e-mail me individually if you want to know what she said.
And my February 6th deputation about shifting the rink season forward, beginning in the darker weeks of November and ending before the March strong-sun mush zone, got only a very tentative maybe for November 2010.
The fact is, although there are 23 councillors who have outdoor compressor-cooled rinks in their wards, none of them sit on the Recreation Committee. Three out of six councillors on the Parks Committee have compressor-cooled outdoor rinks in their ward, but it's unclear if any of them are interested in understanding the whole 49-rink picture, beyond their own wards.
What's needed is NOT more funds -- what's needed is sensible, equitable management, taking into account the differences between individual rinks and their neighbourhoods. And rinks need to be considered whole, not as bits of carved-up turf for the various separate arms of bureaucracy. Otherwise it won't be much longer before the first batch of rinks will deteriorate enough in their operations that they will lose all their skaters and fade away
Next step: since the Parks director was recently discharged, a new director has been moved over, at least for now, from the Transportation Division (Roads). His name is Andy Koropeski and he starts work on March 2. On that date there will still be 14 rinks open. If you (and your friends, as many as possible) wrote to him now, he might be willing to put a rink briefing on his short list, before it gets postponed again until after all the decisions have been made for next season. Here is a quick link to an e-mail. Consider taking a few minutes and sending it (or one of your own) to [email protected]. And if you can figure out a city councillor who would be willing to champion the outdoor rinks citywide, that would be a real boon.