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March 9, 2009

Dear outdoor rink supporters,

As you will know by now, on Friday March 6 the City shut down all outdoor rinks except Nathan Phillips Square, after a day of 16 degrees celsius.

On the same day, a letter arrived from the City Clerk's office, , saying that City Council had voted in favour of opening the same fourteen rinks earlier next season, i.e. on November 21 instead of (for some of them) December 5. Earlier opening has been one of the goals of outdoor skaters for years. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong re-introduced that motion after it seemed to have already been lost: Dufferin Grove park March newsletter. So it passed --an unexpected score!

All the letters you wrote to Councillor Davis and to Andy Koropeski (new Parks Director) also seem to have borne fruit. I've been told that an invitation to meet with City management about outdoor rinks is soon forthcoming.

With spring on everyone's mind, rinks no longer feel like an urgent issue. But the distance to the next skating season is always shorter than expected (time flies), and I'm hoping that the very inequitable ice maintenance between central Toronto and all other rinks, and the very limited public drop-in use in North York outdoor rinks, can be addressed before next winter.

If you feel like doing your bit to "put the rinks to bed," the best thing you could do is send me an e-mail summarizing the good and the bad at your local rink this winter. I'll be contacting some of you individually as well (if you wrote to me about a particular problem, and I didn't hear back from you to let me know if it was resolved -- follow-up is everything!)

During my winter rink diary observations (example:February 17-24? ), I saw a lot of people having a really good time. What a great thing it is to have these 49 winter rinks as one of our civic treasures -- even more so now, as ever more people have to get by with less income. If outdoor rinks are places where friendship can grow, they can be one of the public spaces that make the current troubles a bit easier to bear. And take the sting out of winter.

Jutta Mason

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Content last modified on March 10, 2009, at 08:05 AM EST