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A Manual for Running Compressor-Cooled Outdoor Rinks Really Well. Read more>>

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Rinks By The Numbers

Q: How many outdoor compressor-cooled rinks does Toronto have?

A: Toronto has 51 that are run by the city, one that's run by Evergreen (at the Brickworks) and one (Natrel Rink) that is run by Harbourfront. Until 2000/2001, Toronto had 54 such rinks, but that year, 5 were closed: Dixon Park Rink in Etobicoke, Ancona Park, Fountainhead Park, and Maple Leaf Park Rinks in North York, and Robert Street Rink in downtown Toronto (jointly owned with the University of Toronto).


As is common, it's hard to get clear numbers from the City about costs. Here's a start:

CELOS Estimate of City Of Toronto Outdoor Rink Operating Costs (2009)

(CELOS is the non-profit research organization that publishes this site.)

posted January 07, 2009

Here's our preliminary estimate of Toronto Outdoor Rinks operating costs (but notice how different these are from some City estimates):

We have gone to several disparate sources to arrive at an estimate of annual (seasonal) operating costs of Toronto's 49 outdoor rinks ("AIR's" - Artificial Ice Rinks).

Our best estimate of direct costs from these approaches is

  • maintenance staff $1.3M
  • rink guards $0.5M
  • energy $1.4M

Total direct cost estimate $3.2M (average about $65,000 per rink - 12 week season)

Here are some pictures showing ways of doing a lot with a little: Cheap Design.


How much does it cost to run the city's 49 outdoor rinks?

That's a questions that seems to have puzzled city staff. In 2002, Parks and Recreation director Don Boyle wrote that it would cost $650,000 that season just to pay staffing costs in a quarter of the city (the downtown area). Add in the other three districts (with somewhat fewer rinks) and divide by three months, and you get about $600,000 a month, and that's not even counting the energy costs. But then in the budget crisis of 2007, city staff said they'd save $160,000 by keeping all the outdoor rinks, citywide, closed for the first month of the rink season. That allowed Mastercard to step forward and be the hero. Why did city staff underestimate the number by so much?

Hard to know. CELOS researchers made a lot of rink visits, talked to a lot of front-line rink workers, and submitted some of Freedom of Information requests. Our best guess on the basis of the numbers we got is that it costs about $1 million a month to operate the outdoor rinks, counting all costs. [Context: Parks, Forestry and Recreation's gross operating budget in 2010 is set at $360 million].

Here's a copy of the city's budget for the 2009 staff cost of JJP (from our sister site $42,428.51 for the 2009 12-week season. The linked table compares the city's staffing arrangements with an alternative schedule proposed by CELOS. This alternative was not of interest to the City management and was never tested. To learn more about this rink see the JJP detail pages. This rink is also known as the Earlscourt or Giovanni Caboto rink.

CELOS correspondence about the City's estimate of Toronto Outdoor Rink Operating Costs

....based on our analyis of the City's Full Costing and Pricing Review (December 2007) read more >>

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Content last modified on January 12, 2012, at 02:15 PM EST