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Weather: High -3, low -10. Mainly cloudy with a few weak streaks of blue; short light snowflurries. Friday Night Supper was bigger than last week, and one long table was set up. The menu: Boeuf Bourgoignon, coconut vegan curry, beet and green salads, mashed rutabaga, and apple pie with ice cream for desert. Half the people ate in skates.
A group called "Meet Market" came for their monthly visit, and they rented skates, had some dinner, and then made a campfire at the side of the rink. The rink house was very active with the younger teens, who rent skates and socialize and are really pretty nice.
The more there is a mix of ages, the better is the mood of the rink house. One of the loudmouth troublemakers from last week held open a door for a skater. I asked him, "is it my imagination, or are you already getting nicer?" He took a minute to consider it, and said, "I'm getting nicer."
After being closed for three days, the hockey side was open again. Apparently the compressors turned off earlier in the week, for reasons no one has explained, and the ice lost patches all over the surface. Today at 1.30 pm the rink had a good game again and the skaters said the ice was all right.
The mall snow clearance vehicles have piled some snow right onto the entrance of the walkway from the mall parking to the rink, blocking it. The rink shinny players always park their cars in the mall lot, and maybe it's payback time.
Ice maintenance: once only
Shinny hockey players at Dufferin Rink have often complained that Glen Long Rink, up Dufferin Street north of Eglinton, "always seems to be closed." Time to go and see. At 2 pm on a pleasant Friday in December, the gates to the rink were locked and the ice was empty, with some light snow on it, but no skate marks.
There's a small community centre right next to the rink, with big "No Loitering" signs leading up to a side door. The door was locked, but I slipped in past an older man who was just coming out. Inside the centre there was a young recreation staff person, just leaving; an empty gym, and another large room full of elderly men playing cards. The staff person said, on being questioned, that indeed there are only very limited public skating hours but she didn't know when. She suggested talking to the rink maintenance staff, who -- it turned out -- was the man just going out the door when I came in. I said -- "but where is he now?" She suggested knocking at side door of the rink.
The door had no signage on it, but a knock brought the appearance of the maintenance staff. To my question -- "how come the rink is closed?" -- he answered, "it's not closed, it's open from 9 am to 9 pm." I said, "but the doors are locked..." He said, "I have to keep them locked because otherwise dog walkers go in there. But the rink is open." I asked, "how do people know the rink is open? There's no sign." He said, "they know."
I asked when the ice had been zambonied, and at first the maintenance staff said 7 a.m., but then he said he had flooded the rink only an hour ago. I said it didn't look like it had been cleaned, because of the snow on the ice, and he said, "there's no snow on the ice. What you're seeing is from the sun."
I asked him if I could put up a cityrinks.ca poster on the public bulletin board. He said there's no public bulletin board in the rink area but that if I asked the community centre supervisor, I might be allowed to put up the sign inside the centre. I asked if she was there, and he said -- "no."
Then he went back inside his office and shut the door. I taped a poster to the door, but it may not be there anymore, since he crossed back into the rec centre as I was getting into my car. Perhaps he was supervising the card players.
Aty 2.15 the rink had 7 shinny hockey players at one end, three pleasure skaters, and a large family of eight more skaters just arriving in the rink change house. The rink is so long that the shinny hockey players and the other skaters seem to be able to share the ice without bothering one another. The rink change area is clean and inviting, with lots of benches and a great view of the ice.
At 2.30 pm Otter Creek Rink had 21 enthusiastic shinny hockey players on the hockey side and another 17 on the pleasure-skating side, with many more in the players' boxes. They said it's exam time (the rink is right by Lawrence Park Collegiate) and a lot of the kids had the afternoon off. What better thing to do than play hockey?
A mother who was there with two young children said that normally the rink is pretty quiet on weekday afternoons. She didn't mind that on this day both rink pads were full of shinny players -- they were letting her little boy play along with them and the mom said -- this is one of the best days of his life!
Weather: High -2, low -5. Some faint sun, and again that beautiful moon over the rink. Market day, but this one was less chaotic. Part of what makes market day tricky is the profusion of babies, some in big strollers that make it seem even more crowded in the rinkhouse. There is no problem with population replacement in this neighbourood.
The Parks supervisor came to oversee the arrangements for the zamboni to fill its water tank during market time, when it can't get into the garage. People are forever looking for the rules, for the system that can lay out the correct procedure -- but in the end, friendly cooperation really makes or breaks a rink. The rink program staff are bending over backwards to make things work. And Chris, the new zamboni operator, is getting good at ice maintenance even though he's so new at it. Tonight's older men's neighbourhood shinny permit players said he laid down a perfect sheet of ice for them, and they had a lovely game.
Near the end of the evening, rink staff made ten guys leave, for being drunk on the shinny ice. They did leave, even though with threats to come back and be obnoxious again on another day.
E-mail from M.G. to rink supervisor Mark Hawkins:
I will follow up with the staff to ensure that the time slot is committed to women's programming.
I'm sorry that this ordeal transpired.