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< February 08-16 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | January 27 - 31 >

Saturday February 7, 2009

Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: s/f 10am, 1pm scrape only, nothing more.

Not a happy day for Wallace Rink. The earlier part of the day was stil skateable, and the remaining skating lesson went on (the other one has been cancelled for the rest of the season, for lack of a teacher).

After 3 pm there was too much water to play on the hockey side at all. Compressor down at 7pm (maybe only on hockey side?

pond side 2 pm

hockey side 2pm

roasting a marshmallow

hot chocolate at the campfire, 2 pm


plowing water at the tournament

Weather: high of 8, no rain although it was in the forcast. The sun came out for about two hours in the early afternoon.

Ice maintenance: 8;30 s/f, 11:45 s/f, 4pm water pumped off with zamboni, , 5:45 water pumped off with zamboni, 9pm s/f.

This was the second day of the "Women of Winter" shinny hockey tournament. In the afternoon the games were played in a lake, because it was warm and the sun was shining. When the zamboni operator came at 4 and took off the water, everyone cheered him. The final game was played on good ice.

Friday February 6, 2009

Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: pre 10, 1, 5:45, 9pm.

That's the second day with four resurfacings, one of which is the late one we asked for. That's better than the news from City Councillor Adam Giambrone's office:

PFR is committed to providing service at Wallace three times daily (the standard at all other rinks maintained by the flying squads is twice per day). Any necessary diversion to this schedule, due to weather or other factors, is now being reported daily to the General Manager's Office for oversight. Weekly logs for Wallace are also being reported to the GM's office to monitor performance. Councillor's office is also checking in regularly with GM's office to monitor performance.

The Fly Crews do follow a set rotation, but the exact timing is affected by factors such as staffing, equipment breakdowns, weather, and traffic conditions.

The maintenance schedule at Wallace Emerson, Monday to Friday, is to provide three scrape/floods a day. The first around 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. delivered by the fly crew coming from Rosedale. The second is scheduled for around 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. and is delivered by the staff person assigned to Dufferin Grove, using ice cleaning equipment dropped off at the site by the fly crew on their way back to their home base for the end of their shift. The final flood is scheduled for 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. and is delivered by the fly crew.

When the temperatures are mild, the staff have been instructed to hand flood the rink, as part of the maintenance schedule, in order to build up the ice.

PFR's current position on an onsite zamboni is that a tent is less than ideal in any circumstance. There are problems with lack of heat, lack of water, and there are, of course, security concerns. PFR believes a tent would be a stop-gap measure and is not a long-term solution. PFR is currently trying to phase out tents at other locations, like High Park, and they are saying they do not want to add another at Wallace.

Having said that, PFR has recognized that the rink operation at Wallace Emerson is a significant one, and apart from the issue with the facilities, it is a location where they would like to see both staffing and equipment resources dedicated. The GM has instructed PFR staff to begin work on the development of permanent secure space for equipment and staff, which will be considered as part of the division's Capital Plan process.

There are a lot of puzzling things in that letter. There's no tent nor zamboni nor dedicated maintenance staff, like the other 12 double pads have. But the policing is intense: daily reports to the general manager, who otherwise administers a $300++ million budget! Nobody has ever heard of such a thing. The zamboni drivers aren't happy about it.

At the same time there's no admission that this rink had a zamboni last year. It was an old wreck of a thing, but the ice was better than this year (at least until now). Security concerns, lack of water (there's plenty of water -- what could than mean?)-- they were not factors last year.

And mentioning that other flying squad rinks only get two floods a day -- as though it was a matter for gratitude that this one gets three -- only opens up that wound of the "economy class" maintenance that these central-Toronto rinks get compared to the Etobicoke and North York ones.

But then -- in a sudden reversal of even what's promised (with such precision) in the memo -- for the last two days there are FOUR maintenance sessions, one of them the late maintenance skaters have been asking for. Amazing! Wonderful! But if they were going to do that, why didn't they say so?



Weather: started out at -10, then up to -2, low -6. Sunny -- the ice along the boards melted but the rest held up okay.

Ice maintenance: s&f 9am , 1:30, 3:30, 6:30, 9pm.

The Women of Winter shinny tournament started tonight. It was also Friday Night supper, so the competitors had to shoulder their way through a roomful of skaters/eaters/little kids to get to the half of the room reserved for them. The took it in good grace. Some of the eaters had a harder time, because it was tough to find a spot to put the plate down. People ate their gnocchi or their lamb pie or their tiramisu using the washing machine as a table, or just standing up, outside. Even so, the food at the rink is a miracle. Same with the skate rentals -- how do the staff keep it straight? But they do, and at the same time they joke with the "wild boys" at the side of the rink, threatening them with humorously dire consequences if they don't stop playing British bulldog, or don't stop calling each other "gay," as an insult. And they do stop. So far -- touch wood -- the really nasty guys haven't been around much.

Pictures from the tourney:

Thursday February 5, 2009


Weather: It started out at minus 16 but then gradually went up to minus 9.

Ice maintenance: s&f 9am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 8:55pm.

One of the zamboni drivers was upset to see the Councillor's letter ordering better ice maintenance. He feels they're doing their best. Certainly it's been very impressive to see them at Dufferin --it's bitter cold, and they're out there going around and around. Since one of the operators was transferred there's a fair bit of double shifts, which must be tough on them now but will feel good when the paycheck comes, with all that time-and-a-half. There are not enough zamboni drivers, that's why there's overtime.



E-mail from Ryerson Rink friend L.S. ("Ryerson Rink Yenta"):

In keeping with my decision to try to use the Ryerson rink more regularly and keep an eye on conditions there, I visited on two weeknights Tuesday Feb 3 and Thursday Feb 5th. On Tuesday around 7 the rink building was open and attendant present (if somewhat surly) but ice had not been cleaned or resurfaced all day according to the attendant. There were about 5 adults other than myself waiting to skate and the ice was covered with snow and had dangerous soft areas. The zamboni operators arrived while I was there and we all waited for about 20 minutes. The ice was then beautiful and everyone had a great skate. I met 3 "new Canadians" teaching themselves to skate. I wonder if any level of government takes account of the importance of the outdoor rinks in improving the quality of life for newcomers.

Thursday evening was the first time in recent visits that I have encountered both clean ice AND an open attended building upon arrival. However it was 20 below with the windchill and no one but me was foolish enough to be out skating!

Wednesday February 4, 2009


Weather: high minus 13, low minus 18. Sunny but really cold, ouch.

Ice maintenance: 9 a.m. s/f, 10.30 flood (hockey only), 1.15 flood (hockey only), 3.30 s/f, 7.15 s/f.

Two classes from North Etobicoke had come all the way down in a school bus. Most had never skated before, and it took a while to get them all outfitted with skates and helmets. They were troopers, and said "thank you" for any help. The teachers said they wanted to give everyone an experience of something they might not get through their families, who were mostly newcomers and mostly scraping by.

The staff were so impressed with this bunch that they gave them each a hot chocolate and a park cookie, for free. The kids had brought their lunches, and they all sat inside to eat(it was minus 15!), the lucky ones near the woodstove. They played chess and checkers and extracted every possible feature of the rink for their enjoyment. It was so much fun to watch them, both on the ice and after.

most had never skated before

so many backpacks


figure skater

zamboni doing circles around the rocks

At 2 pm the rink was smooth and there was a figure skater on it, doing wonderful routines around the rocks. The building attendant was sitting inside with a friend. He was courteous in his replies but not interested when he heard that this wonderful skater was outside. The inside looks shockingly squalid. There's scribbling (about cockroaches?) on the beautiful rock faces that make up part of the walls. The staff desk looks junky. One slight improvement has been made -- two of the nasty-looking opaque plastic windows have been replaced by glass panes, so that you can see a strip of the outside.

Click on image to enlarge it.

the builders and donours of the rink

The inside of that place could be fixed up with a good cleaning and a little paint and a little respect for the design, there could be coffee and hot chocolate on a table in the corner, the rest of the sun-damaged plastic could be replaced by glass -- and the whole thing would look 100% better. When???

At 4 pm the figure skater was gone but the zamboni was there, doing careful circles around the rocks, making the ice even smoother. Two skaters were waiting to go on.

Tuesday February 3, 2009


Ice Maintenance: plough 2:30pm, Zamboni (scrape only) 3:25pm. flood and scrape 8:30-8:45pm

At 3, two of the boys who had been throwing snowballs on Sunday were standing by the Zamboni gates. The b/a told them they had to leave, which they did.

At 6pm two park workers came by in a truck to tie up the mesh on the nets, but the nets had been fixed earlier in the day when the plough was here.

It was a quiet afternoon and evening with only a few hockey players showing up. There were never more than eight players at a time on the ice. Three of the younger boys were roughhousing in the rinkhouse so the b/a told them to go home and come back tomorrow.

At 8pm, a car from corporate security dropped by to check up on things. They spoke to the b/a about the problem on Sunday with the boys who had been throwing snowballs on the ice. They also took some pictures of the graffiti on the rinkhouse. The b/a told them the graffiti had been there since the beginning of the season.

There is a regular Tuesday night permit at 9pm. The Zamboni did a flood and scrape 8:30-8:45pm.

Monday February 2, 2009

Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: 9 am s/f and edging. The hockey side stayed closed until 6.30, then at 7 pm there was another s/f.

The flying crew arrived a bit before a big school visit at 9.30. The school visit was a mixup. The school had planned an all-school "carnival" day involving all the little kids coming to the rink. Rink staff only found out a few days before, and they warned the teachers that it was too many kids for the skate rentals etc. But by then it was too late for the school to change their plans. So everyone made the best of it, and most of the kids wanted to play on the giant snow hills anyway. The flying squad did the "pond" side first, so that gave the kids enough room to skate.

In the evening, after the hockey side opened again, behind the nets there were still deep gouges from the day before. Rec staff filled them in with slush but had to stop when the permit arrived at 9pm.



Cc of response to T.G. from Mark Wilson, assistant to City Councillor Kyle Rae

Thank you for the note. There is no such truth to what you've heard. There was a proposal submitted by the Badminton and Racquet Club to redevelop the land that the city's facility sits on, this being the Ramsden Works Yard at the south/east corner of the park. This proposal was turned down by the city but may resurface in the future. Only time will tell, but it certainly does not involve the sale of Ramsden Park.

Sunday February 1, 2009

Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: 11.40 s/f both sides. Then nothing more.

E-mail to, from J.A., 5 pm: Today was terrible. We had a great game going and the ice was fine. Then the fly crew showed up and destroyed it by flooding (melting) it. The ice is now gone in places down to the cement. Not sure why they did that when the ice was fine to begin with. They essentially shut the rink down for the day.

It's true that in February it's very tricky to flood the ice in bright sunshine and above zero temperature. The shinny side didn't actually close down for another hour after the flying crew flooded it; the pleasure-skating side stayed open but was "rough." Even so, the rink was packed. For a while, shinny players got a part of the pond side, so everyone was jammed together.

The shinny hockey side was firm pretty soon after 6 pm but there was never another ice resurfacing so it couldn't be used -- by late evening the ice was all hard again, but because of the lack of resurfacing it was a mess: all the slush was frozen up into hard bumps.



ice maintenance: before 10 am and then no more.

There was a bit of trouble today. A few of the younger boys were throwing snowballs at their friends who were skating. The b/a told them to stop. That would have been the end of it if the boys had listened, but they refused point blank. One boy said they were just having fun and there was nothing the b/a could do about it. When the b/a warned them they could be banned from the rink, they laughed and continued to lob snowballs over his head. The b/a called the rink coordinator who told them they had to leave and not come back for a week. When the boys still refused to leave, the coordinator warned them corporate security would be called. These are not bad kids and it's too bad things went so far, but there are some simple rules everyone has to follow.


Harry Gairey

Bright sunshine, a beautiful day. At 2.45 pm the rink was a bit mushy but not bad, and there was a good shinny game going on, with a fair number of pleasure skaters on the other pad. The zamboni driver said that since he has a small zamboni for this rink, it takes him longer than usual to clear snow off the ice after a snowfall and it also takes longer to flood because he has to go and refill in between.

bench for skate changing --snowed in!

a beautiful sunny day for skating

small zamboni -- cast-off from North York


On a very sunny day, 2.15 pm there's no sound of compressors running and the ice is mushy. The hockey side is closed and only half the pleasure-skating side is open. The staff say that the compressors seem to be down and they're waiting for somone to come and look.

The zamboni driver shows me the zamboni and tells me she always wanted to drive one, since she was very small. "My dad took me to a hockey game and I said -- that's what I want to do, I want to drive the machine that cleans the ice." She says she's a big Leafs fan, too.

hockey side locked at 2.15, no compressor noise

zamboni garage
Feb1 2009 cc of letter from T.G. to City Councillor Kyle Rae:

After a great skate yesterday morning at Ramsden one of the skaters told me that the City was considering closing the rink and selling the whole park for development. I was shocked to hear this as I consider the park to be one of the City's great assets, apart from one of the principal reasons we just bought a house in this area.

I have been trying to find out more information about this by searching on the web. So far, I have discovered a website devoted to maintaining all public rinks open but no news items on this rumour.

I write you somewhat reluctantly: I don't want to start a rumour but I also don't want to miss an opportunity to advocate for the park should there be a real debate starting on the subject.

We would be grateful for any information on the subject you could provide to us.



Weather: a brilliantly sunny day, high 4, low -5.

Ice maintenance: 9 am s/f, 12.30 light scrape only, 6 to 7 pm a good long resurfacing with both scrape and flood, and another s/f at 8.30.

campfire, to spread out the crowd a bit

hot chocolate tastes so good

The ice got mushy in spots around 2, and no wonder. Not only was there brilliant sunshine, but David Anderson's Clay and Paper Theatre did their annual "Puppets on Ice" event, with little puppets for child skaters to wear, and three hours of hand-picked music on a sound system he had rented. David said that he had played with every one of the groups that were on the sound track.

organizer David Anderson

The rink was beyond crowded, but everyone seemed to be smiling, and even the mushy ice didn't draw any complaints. The lineup for skate rentals was long and therefore slow, and ditto for the lineups at the zamboni cafe. But who cares, when it's February and there's a hint that spring will return? A day like that, with music and skating and Mary Sylwester's dal soup, and mugs of hot chocolate at the campfire, just seems to work for families. Simple, when there's a rink to skate on and there are smart, spirited city staff to run it well. Simple, and very lucky.


Rink co-ordinator making her notes

lots of new graffiti: "fingaz"...?

By 6 pm everything was back to normal. The zamboni guy spent an hour fixing the ice and then it was reopened for the shinny hockey players. Usually it's a permit but it was superbowl Sunday so not many people showed up. The Beginners' shinny group are so eager, though, that they came out in force at 9.30 and didn't lose a minute of their time.



E-mail from L.S. to Recreation supervisor Dave Hains

I again visited Ryerson rink this morning (Sunday Feb 1st, arrived 11:30 am). No rink attendant, building locked, schedule missing from door.

Attendant (young, female) showed up at 11:45 am. This week's quote: "I'm running late - I called my supervisor".

Aside from myself there were two parents with small children waiting and another single adult skater waiting. By 12, 2 other adult skaters had arrived. So there is interest in using this rink. It sends a very negative message to users when the building is not open on schedule. Two Sundays in a row is not a coincidence, in my opinion.

I would like to add that the ice was freshly flooded and in perfect condition - now we just need a rink attendant as advertised.


Barbara Ann ScottRink

A "girls in science" event has brought an instructor and two volunteers to have a "science of skating" demo at the rink. There are more people at the rink than usual anyway (it's a beautiful sunny day) but the ice is not great, wherever there's sun.

more skaters than usual

mushy enough in the sun to show footprints

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< February 08-16 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | January 27 - 31 >

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