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November 22, 2008, E-mail to acting city outdoor rink manager Helen Sousa, from

This email is directed to you since Kevin Bowser is still on vacation. The city's "rink hotline" says that City Hall Rink opens Nov.22 "weather permitting." The weather is fine for rinks. But when I went down to take a pretty picture for the website, this is what I found: City Hall Rink Diary

So City Hall Rink is not open, despite what the "rink hotline" says.

The "rink hotline" says the caller can get more information here: City of Toronto web site

But there is no up-to-date information about City Hall Rink there. Access Toronto is closed, of course, so where does that leave skaters? I'm sure you will agree that this is not a good thing.

Problems with the "rink hotline" in the past led to the Dufferin Rink staff being given the password so they could update at least the South section at no extra cost to the rinks budget. However, city management have now stopped this helpful practice. So once again, a city of two and a half million has this kind of misinformation -- embarrassing!

Nor did anyone notify our website. When we found out today, we put a message on the home page.

Such a message is easy to post, even easier if city staff inform us by sending us an e-mail.

The city should immediately improve its rink information website. Here is a nice example from the outdoor rink in Central Park NYC, which opened on October 23 and posts its ice conditions as needed: Central Park outdoor ice rink

Could you let me know if such an improvement is planned for this rink season? Are there other outdoor rinks which won't be opening as scheduled?

Nov.24 2008, from Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnes to cityrinks,

Thank you for bringing the error on the Rink Hotline to our attention. I was unaware of the change to the opening date until Friday and I neglected to change the outgoing message on the hotline.

In terms of the website, I will follow-up with the people responsible for updates and ensure that it is updated as well.

I will ensure that all future updates are recorded on the Rink Hotline in a timely manner and I apologize for any convenience my oversight may have caused.

Nov.24 2008, from to Kelly McInnes

Thanks for getting back to me. It must be very frustrating if you're the person where the buck stops (in letting rink users know about rink closures), and you are not told something that's as big as City Hall Rink postponing its opening. Communication across a big organization is always tricky, but hopefully the bugs will be worked out soon.

I hope that the people who will be updating the City website could have a look at these rink website front pages:

They are both more "current" than the existing City pages. When Toronto changes the rink section of its site, they are welcome to "steal" our google map. How many cities in the world would actually need a map to show their outdoor A.I.R.'s? Most have only a few rinks. We're so lucky, to have so many. Might as well get the word out!

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Content last modified on November 25, 2008, at 06:38 AM EST