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< December 18 - 19 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | December 13 - 15 >

Wednesday December 17


There was 2-3 inches of snow overnight so the rink was not good for skating. The plough and Zamboni came at 4 pm and did the ice, just once for that day. Lots of shinny players came after that but by 8.30 the ice was too snowy and everyone left.


Christie Pits

There were 2-3 inches of snow overnight. A truck with a plow pushed off the snow from the centre for about an hour at 12 noon, but there were snowbanks left all around the rink boards. The ice maintenance crew returned at 6.30 pm (plow-truck and zamboni) and finished the job. In between, there was enough bare ice that the kids could play, although losing a puck in the snowbanks at the rink edges was a bit of a problem.

trying to play hockey despite the snowbanks

mid-afternoon snowbanks

City Hall

At 1pm the rink is packed with skaters who seemed to be enjoying themselves. There are 70-80 people on the ice, with more skaters sitting and standing by the side of the rink. Roughly a third of the skaters are wearing rentals. There is a lot of laughter on the ice. The ice is smooth and hard, but starting to get snowy. At 1:25 the two rink guards blow their whistles and ask people to get off the ice so the Zamboni can clean it. After the skaters leave, the Zamboni waits a minute so that a figure skater can do a few twirls for a CITY TV cameraman.



Weather: High minus 3 celsius, low minus 7. It snowed 2- 3 inches but the rink didn't get cleared until after 1 pm. The other nearby rinks were much worse.

The guy who was caught with the shoes says he didn't steal them, that when the kids who stole them saw the staff coming after them, they stuck them in his hand. He's a smart-aleck who gets on the wrong side of the staff but he may be telling the truth. So he's being allowed back. He says he'll point out the people who did the shoe thefts, but only if he can do it so they don't know he fingered them, otherwise they'll beat him up bad.


Glen Long

E-mail to Councillor Moeser, cc to outdoor rinks manager Kevin Bowser and Parks Director Paul Ronan

This is a follow-up to my report last Friday, about Glen Long Rink being locked during the daytime. I did not receive a response to that email, neither from your office nor from Parks staff, so I went back yesterday and was pleased to find the rink open with good ice and a couple of skaters. Rink staff were friendly and helpful. Now all that's needed is to get the word out to skaters in the neighbourhood, who may be unaware that the outdoor rinks in North York are now available for free public drop-in skating during the day. will follow up with the recreation supervisor to ask about notices announcing this change, put up at the rink and also in local libraries, and sent out to schools.


Giovanni Caboto

too much snow on stairs

At 8.30 the rink had 12 shinny hockey players (only 2 with helmets) with four more getting their skates on, and 11 pleasure skaters. The front door was locked and the stairs were snow-covered. I was not the only one who got all the way to the door, found a hand-lettered sign that the door was not in use, and then had to pick my way around a roadwork trailer and through the snow to get to a side gate. The zamboni operator told me that it's because Parks is supposed to shovel snow of stairs, not Rinks, and it would take him hours to get all that snow off and keep the stairs clear.

He also said that the front doors are meant for the swimming pool, not the rink. But right by the top of the stairs, there's a big City sign advertising both.

So people can get in the gate from the parking area but not the street.

The rink was more or less clean and skateable before 1 pm, after the snow of last night. The rink operator said that he was scheduled from 3, but arrived shortly after 1 pm. Sounds like he started work early and he only had to "clean up" -- the main ice cleaning had already been done. The operator said that he doesn't do the ice on a schedule, just "whenever it needs it," which he said might be four times during a shift.

I asked whether I could put up a sign on the bulletin board, but the operator said I'd have to check that with his supervisor, Mike Hindle.


High Park

The rink boards are up and the compressors were turned on at 2 pm. Usually the compressors are run for 24 hours to let the cement slab cool down, but there's no time -- the aim is to open the rink on Saturday. So an all-night crew (2 people) has begun to hose the ice and at 8 pm the first layer was starting to set. One of the workers said there was lots of construction mess for them to clean up when they started their shift.

leftover board scraps

first coat of ice

tent is ready for zamboni

The zamboni tent had arrived, but no zamboni yet. A technician from CIMCO was there to make sure everything was good with the compressors. he said the new boards are aluminum, which needs less maintenance but if it gets dinged by a machine during resurfacing, it's harder to fix than plywood.

According to a woman named Tanya, who works for the Leafs-Home Depot hockey legacy program said that they didn't get the okay to fund the new boards until September, and then it had to go through the channels at the city. So the final okay was only six weeks before rink season began, and that's why High Park Rink couldn't open on time. She said that her organization wanted to "give back," hence all the plans for refurbishing rinks.


Wallace Emerson

Wednesday Dec.17 2008

It snowed overnight, so the rink had too much snow to allow skating. Since a large school group was planning to come, program staff contacted the maintenance supervisor to ask if the rink would be ready for the school grounp. He said they had to do their "majors" first, i.e. Ramsden, Harry Gairey, and Dufferin. This is an Etobicoke distinction, where all rinks except one are single pads. Those pads that have boards and larger rink houses are called "major" rinks and have their own ice maintenance staff. Mysteriously, the rink supervisor, who worked in Etobicoke until a few years ago, seems to have categorized Wallace Rink as a "minor" rink.

No ice maintenance had been done by the time the school arrived (program staff did not have the school's phone number and were all so busy shoveling snow off paths and access areas that they didn't manage to call the school class).

The teacher wrote:

I wanted to let you know about how today's skate at Wallace went. We arrived at 1 pm (not 12:45) and saw that the ice had not been cleared. At 1:05, I got a call from my school on my cell that Wallace had called to tell us about the delay in the zamboni arrival (supposed to come at 12:00). Obviously, this was a disappointment to the kids and teachers and parents.....The man at the rink was trying to shovel, to his credit, and was very pleasant under difficult circumstances (he was alone). We decided to stay and the kids and parents got busy shoveling enough space for some skating.....In any case, we had an okay time overall, but it was not the smooth experience we had last year. I was hoping to bring a group again in the New Year, but I am hesitant. Would it better to try and book at Dufferin Grove?

a "minor" rink?

The rink was plowed at 3.30 pm, not resurfaced until 7.30 pm. By 8 pm there were 20 shinny players, 17 pleasure skaters, and 17 more kids inside, trying on loaner skates, playing chess, or eating mini-pizzas.



There was 3 inches of snow overnight. The ice maintenance crew did not arrive to clear off the snow until 8.30 pm. They finished at 9.30 pm, so a whole day of the rink was lost.


Irving Chapley

Wednesday December 17 2008

E-mail to City outdoor rink manager Kevin Bowser, from Yesterday at 3 pm on a rink visit to Irving Chapley Rink, this was the situation: [link to Dec.16 report].

I assume that a zamboni operator is assigned to an A.I.R. on a morning shift to maintain the ice, and the operator can't make an independent decision not to do so at all? (You may want to click on the ice photo enlargement).

Also it would be good if your A.I.R. staff actually support public outdoor ice rinks, but even if they don't, they need to be familiar with the current policy -- i.e. that the rinks should be accessible for free, unsupervised drop-in skating when not scheduled for either programs or permits. This operator seems to be unaware of that policy, even though (rink friends tell me) the Mayor emphasized it in a recent radio interview.



After an overnight snowfall of 2-3 inches, the rink was plowed and resurfaced by 10.30 am.



At 8.30 pm the large parking lot is full to capacity -- it's girls' hockey night and every change-room is full. Lots of parents/friends watching, some standing beside the rink and some looking down from the changeroom above. The snack bar is open, staffed by three young guys who say they're doing this as volunteer hours. Zero healthy snacks! Just chips and chocolate bars and pre-wrapped cookies. They say that on Saturday the menu is more varied, even including toasted bagels.

Two hockey teams on the hockey side and 17 pleasure-skaters on the other side.

The zamboni operator doesn't know when this rink was cleared from last night's snow -- but when he came on duty at 3 pm, it was all done. He says he cleans the ice often, up to five times a shift.

girls' hockey

rink house windows with a good view
Tuesday December 16, 2008

Christie Pits

Rink guards made everyone put on a helmet because of the city's mandatory helmet rule. Frustrating for the rink guards --as soon as they turned around, the helmets were off again. Rink guards said that when they play shinny at unsupervised rinks, they never wear a helmet "shinny is not a game played with helmets -- you just don't raise the puck."

Lights came on at 4.37pm -- slightly dim already because of the approach of solstice (sunset at 4.49pm). Ice maintenance supervisor was asked to reset the lights to 4 pm but declined. Shinny players say they can see the puck okay, and in a week the days will start to get longer.

Ice maintenance: 10.25, 6 pm.



Weather: high -3 celsius, low -4. Snow began around 9 pm. The rink is having more school visits than last year -- the rental skates are a draw. Busy in the evening, and even after the snow began, the shinny players carried on, on both sides. They finally declared it over at about 10.30 when the snow made it hard to even see the puck, even harder to move it.

At about 6.00, some skaters reported their shoes stolen, and they pointed to a group that was leaving the rink quickly. The rec staff followed them and one of them dropped the shoes. This may be the shoe thief -- a guy familiar to most of the rec staff and certainly not returning. It's just necessary to wait for him so he can be pointed out to all the staff and none overlook him if he tries to come back.

The guy is a known smart-aleck. The shoes were never valuable, he must have just thought it was a great prank.


Glen Long

At 2.30 pm the rink was open, the ice looked good, and there were two guys shooting a puck around. Inside the adjacent Rec centre, the recreation staff accepted a poster and said they'd put it up on the bulletin board. The centre has a newsletter called Winter 2009 News Flash which tells about indoor golf, ball hockey, indoor soccer, basketball, dance, cooking, music, etc. It also includes a few free drop-in programs "subject to availability and staff discretion." Then at the bottom there's a chart of the skating schedule, giving the very limited public skating hours customary at North York rinks. The recreationist pointed out a sentence underneath the schedule: "The outdoor pad is open for unsupervised free skate outside of regular program hours and scheduled permit times." A skater would see it if they read carefully. I suggested that maybe, since this is a change in policy from years past, they might want to put up a few colourful posters around the centre advertising this fact. He said his supervisor would have to approve, and gave me her name.

no signs inside rink change house

Out by the rink I asked the ice maintenance staff, who introduced himself as Sam, where I could put up a poster in the actual rink area. He said there's no public bulletin board but he would call his supervisor and ask. The supervisor said he didn't want anything taped to the wall in the change rooms but he would approve a poster going up in the window of the staff room, which is also a kind of gatehouse to the area -- a fine location. There was another rink staff person there too, who said his name was Roland. Both were friendly and both pointed out a city sign about "Unsupervised Skating" which didn't mention shinny hockey, but did urge all skaters to wear helmets. There are so many cautionary messages at rinks that it seems like Parks and Recreation may find recreational skating, and shinny hockey in particular, a bit regrettable. Don't people realize they could slip and fall? And yet the actual rink injury claims against the city over the last ten years are....two -- both related to full-equipment body-checking/fighting in indoor arenas.


Irving Chapley

3 pm - bumps and shell ice -- not maintained
Click on picture to enlarge it.

At 3 pm the rink looked rough, with shell ice and bumps all over it, as well as leaves blowing around or frozen into the ice. The rink doors were open but there were no skaters. A staff person was in the building, sweeping out the daycare room. He said he's the zamboni operator.

When asked about the poor ice, compared to nearby rink that had excellent ice at the same moment, he said that he doesn't do the ice unless a permit is coming, "and permits don't even start until later." He said that the rink isn't really open, "we don't do that in North York," but that if someone got on the ice during the day he "won't call the police" or kick them out.

The zamboni operator was friendly and approachable but he had quite a few strongly-held opinions about how the rinks should be run (everybody has to pay)or whether there should be outdoor rinks at all (emphatically not).

When asked whether I could put up a poster on the bulletin board he said, "why not?" but he made it clear that he didn't want to know much about it. He also reiterated that he will not do ice maintenance except for a paid permit.


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