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This is definitely one of my rinks and also my favourite rink in the City. I send people there all the time. As you guessed our staff are not allowed to leave anytime they wish, and if they do need to leave they can surely leave the placed unlocked - especially with the weather we have been having.....I'm sorry for your inconvenience and assure that I will address this issue with my staff.
Weather: Minus 14 in the morning, then up to minus 8, and sunny, but it never felt very mild.
Ice maintenance: 9am s/f, 12:30pm s/f, 4pm s/f, no maintenance at 7pm, nothing at 9pm.
In the daytime rink use was light -- so many people are staying indoors with this cold.
But at night-time they came out in droves. There's a running joke with shinny regular Will Lam, whose mother came a week again, then a few days later his dad, and tonight it was his sister, visiting from New Zealand. She skated, she says, for the first time in years.
It was a strange evening, as the "situation" that began on Saturday morning continued to escalate. There was no ice maintenance at all after 4 pm, and as the snow built up, from all that fast hockey, the rinks users finally had to take the big green scrapers and clean the ice themselves. After the permit was over, there was plenty of talk in change room. Plenty of curiosity, too, and puzzlement -- how could a rink that's so good and so popular, not get better treatment? Good question, hopefully there will soon be some answers. e-mail from cityrinks.ca (Jutta Mason) to Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, 5.30 pm Jan 26.
At 10am the ice looked freshly scraped but not flooded. One man, a regular player, was lacing up his skates. He was soon joined by three others including a goalie in full equipment. The first man said the ice was great. Asked if he had noticed any thin spots along the boards, he said no. The building attendant and his supervisor walked along the boards looking for problems. There was a band of slightly lower ice along the boards, but this was probably due to the "edging" that was done two weeks ago. It was quiet morning at the rink. There weren't enough players for a game. At 1, there were only four players shooting pucks as well as one boy who was just skating with skates rented at the rink.
Second ice maintenance: after 6 pm s/f
Weather: started off at minus 14, climbed up to a high of minus 10 (!). But sunny enough that the rink was quite busy.
Ice maintenance: the grumpy zamboni operator from yesterday said he did three floods before 8 a.m., and the ice is much improved from last night and today. Another s/f at 5 pm and another one at 8 pm.
E-mail from L.S. to cityrinks.ca I took your advice and went to Ryerson this morning around 11:15 am. The rink had just been resurfaced. No complaints there. But there was no rink attendant in sight and the building was locked. The zamboni operators were leaving and said they had not seen an attendant.
The posted schedule is 11 am to 6. Attendant showed up at 11:45. In addition to my aging self, a Dad was trying to get skates on two tiny children outside.
I quote the attendant directly: " I came and signed in at 11" and "I can take a break whenever I want".
I (naively) expect that if the schedule is 11 to 6 the building should be open and attended during the entire period. If there is a break allowed outside the facility, it should be scheduled at a regular time and posted on the building door so that users know the building will be closed.
By the way, I don't think users should have to call in advance to use a city rink (except maybe around a major storm or thaw). I think we should expect skateable ice and a conscientious attendant during the times posted.
I'm guessing that you would agree 100% with this skater, that the building attendant should stay on the property during his shift and keep the building accessible. It was minus 14 this morning. Can you let Ms.S. know whether the rink attendant is getting a refresher re his duties, or being moved to somewhere with more supervision?
Ryerson is such a beautiful rink, even though underused. It needs all the skater-friends it can get, maybe the rink attendant can be helped to understand that.
The rink recreation coordinator was asked by rink users about extra floods to repair the thin patches on the hockey side where the cement is clearly visible under the ice. She tried to call the supervisor at about 11 a.m. to ask, but evidently there was no response. She called a weekend foreperson, but he apparently didn't know where the zamboni driver is -- said he would try to find him.
A few minutes later the rec staff's phone rang and a group of rink users could clearly hear the voice of the zamboni driver yelling, telling the rec staff to fix the ice themselves, with buckets of water, and saying various other things that were hard to understand. The rec coordinator appeared to be shaking, and the voice on the other end sounded very aggressive.
He never did show up until well after 12 noon, and then he just did the 1 pm ice maintenance early. No more after that -- so during the earlier shift there was no extra water put on except what the program staff hauled there in buckets.
The rink coordinator said she'd keep trying to get more floods, since by now everybody is aware of the problem; the hockey players keep asking what the staff are going to do about it. On the afternoon shift, the coordinator was much luckier. The zamboni operator did slow floods at 3.15, 5.15, 7, and 8.55. In between, the rec staff poured more water on. So by nightfall it was noticeably thicker.
Today was not as busy as normally on Saturdays, since it was so cold. Good thing, too, because the minus-15 free-cookie rule applied, and if it had been busy, there would have been no cookies left to hand out at the end.
Ice maintenance: 8.30 a.m. s/f, 12.20 pm s/f; 3.15 pm s/f, 5.15 pm, s/f, 7 pm s/f, 8.55 pm s/f.
E-mail from L.S. to Councillor Janet Davis "I used to be a regular user of the Ryerson rink, but it is too inconsistently maintained to be viable now. I will not set out to walk 15 minutes carrying skates (there is NO recreational rink in my immediate area) only to discover Ryerson rink has not been cleared. I have seen people trying to skate on the uncleared rink covered with snow, leaves and also garbage. This is dangerous.
The inequality of funding between downtown and other areas such as North York is inexcusable. If the rinks downtown are uncleared, no one skates on them, and then you can cut our services on the pretext that downtowners don't care."
City staff have recently added a few of the actual rink phone numbers to their information line -- the Ryerson one is 416 392-6863. I just called there and the guy said the ice is very good today, recently resurfaced -- it's such a beautiful rink, it would be shame if you really gave up on it -- so if you phone that rink attendant before you go down, you should be able to skip the bad surprises in future.
At 10am the rink was covered in snow. One hockey player looked at the ice and decided to go to Wallace-Emerson. He is a regular player at the rink. When the building attendant offered to let him and his friend use the green shovels, he said no. He said he would rather spend his time playing hockey. Despite the snow there was a vigorous game of morning shinny involving 7 players.
There was pleasure-skating and a campfire from 4-6. Turnout was low, maybe due to the cold. Rink staff are hoping the Saturday campfire and skate will grow in popularity especially since they get many people asking about pleasure skating, but so far the turnout remains consistently low. Only eight skaters showed up today, but the ones who did said they really liked the idea of a campfire by the side of the rink. One of the skaters was the artist who painted the mural on the underpass on Bloor west of Lansdowne. He said he had skated at Wallace-Emerson yesterday.
At 5:30 some hockey players came on the rink and the B/A had to remind them they couldn't play hockey until 6. One player was stubborn about it and had to be told three times not to bring his stick and puck on the ice. A few of the other players decided to skate. They chased each other on the ice in a way that was inconsiderate of the other skaters. The B/A didn't do a good job of controlling them.
Ice maintenance: 12pm tried to do scrape then flood, but machine is sticking (so that it doesn't suck up the snow properly). The driver did half a turn around the rink when he stopped and dumped a pile of snow on the ice. He then took the Zamboni off the ice. He and the other park worker who came with him spent forty minutes trying to get the machine to work properly. The drivers have trouble starting it in the morning because it is frozen solid. (The Zamboni is parked outdoors overnight at JJP.) They eventually did a simultaneous scrape and flood. They finished at 1 o'clock. They did another scrape and flood at 6:30pm s/f.
At 9.10 pm on a mild winter night, there are 12 pleasure-skaters, enjoying one of the rare programmed public skating times. In the community room beside the rink there is a large and lively group of disabled kids and families, who can look out onto the ice through the big picture windows.
On the rink change room door there is a sign saying that the rink is available for extra drop-in skating whenever there is neither a program or a permit, but that pucks and sticks are never allowed during that time.
The zamboni driver says that the youth are really unhappy about having only two hours a week to play drop-in shinny (the remaining two hours are for little kids). On the rink office desk, there's a clipboard with a long sheet of permit slots, many of them blank for this day. Apparently the way it works is that anyone who pays, gets the permit, so there can be 20 people wanting to skate, and somebody might book the time for three people. As long they pay, the ice can be taken by the three people and the twenty are turned away. The zamboni driver says that on those occasions it feels very strange -- an empty rink, lights blazing, staff on duty -- with only a few people skating around on their own.
The economics are not impressive. Broadlands Rink, with its hustling approach to selling permits, earned $16,526.56 in permit income in 2008. That makes it the third highest-earning rink in the city. But the City estimates that the full cost, for the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, of running the 49 outdoor rinks for the 3-month season is $5.7 million. To recover its assigned share of this cost, Broadlands would have had to earn at least $121,000 -- not close to realistic for outdoor rinks.
So the gap between income and cost is huge. Broadlands Rink currently dips into the public purse for an extra $104,474 in tax funding per season to deliver a meager 12 hours of public drop-in skating a week. At the same time, it has more staff and equipment than many rinks that offer ten times that amount of public drop-in skating.
It's time for this to change, and for City management to treat this 80% tax-funded rink as a public amenity for all the citizens for 80% of the time. Broadlands Rink should set a realistic income target and beyond that, open its gates to the many youth who love to play drop-in shinny, at the rink their parents' taxes fund.
At 9.30 pm, there was a fast shinny game on the hockey side, and on the pleasure-skating side there were two pleasure-skaters and three hockey players, no rink guards. Maybe the staff shifts end earlier on Fridays.
At 7.50, the rink was quite full -- 26 pleasure skaters, 13 shinny hockey players (just under half in helmets), 18 people changing in the very brightly electrified change room. The building attendant said that earlier in the afternoon he had counted over 100 people on the ice and in the building. This rink is known to be very popular.
There were signs up urging rink users to "respect women's hockey," but the staff said there has never actually been a problem (maybe because they only have an hour and fifteen minutes on Saturday at suppertime). Their problem is slow ice maintenance because their water hose is connected to a narrow (one-inch) pipe and it takes forever to fill the zamboni. However they do have an on-site zamboni and their own driver, so the staff said they don't really use their ice scrapers to clean off the rinks, together with users. But they have two scrapers.
At 7.30 pm there were 10 skaters (pleasure-skating time) plus four more changing into skates. Inside there were four guys in the staff office, only some of whom seemed to be actually on duty. They were very helpful about me putting up the cityrinks.ca poster, offering stick pins. Their bulletin board also had the sign, "Respect Women's Hockey," and another longer declaration of social inclusion.
They said that they get ice resurfacing usually twice a day, sometimes only once, and that they never know when the flying squad is coming. That also siad that they never use scrapers or shovels on the ice because they are not allowed to. If people piled heaps of snow on the sides, a puck could get caught underneath the zamboni, and then the Local 416 guys would be angry.
They took the shoveling bulletins and read them with interest.
At 7 pm the rink was in good condition with lots of people on both sides. The staff said that they've never has ice maintenance as good as this year, and that they even feel confident now about permitting out the rink sometimes, knowing that the ice won't be bad.
The rink has a big new sign at the entryway. Inside it's painted purple -- the staff said that according to the rink names, Monarch should have been painted purple and they should have been painted green. Good point.
There were several big signs, "Respect Women's Hockey." This rink has three women's shinny time slots -- Wednesdays 8 to 10, Saturdays 10 am to noon, and Sundays 11 am to noon. The staff said, "it's only fair to the women, to make sure they get to play and don't get bothered." So the struggle earlier in the season must have been worth it.
At 6 pm there were nine kids on the ice, and it was pleasure-skating time. Seven of them were playing British Bulldog. At the edges there was a teenage girl and her much younger sister, trying to stay out of the way. I took a picture of the rink and right away a couple of the kids started yelling about taking pictures. I tried to tell them that they were just tiny stick figures in the pictures, with their backs to me, way down at the other end of the rink. But shouting at me was too interesting to stop for facts. One kid in particular wanted to tell me that his mother weighed four hundred pounds, stood six feet tall, was an "oreo," and would beat me easily. He said that if there was any picture of him on the website, he would shoot me with a supersoaker, "only it won't have water in it."
At this some of the other kids quietened down a bit, and then they resumed their game.
Inside the windowless rink change area there was fresh paint and a new rubber floor. After a few minutes, the teenage girl and her sister came in and took off their skates. They said it was no fun trying to skate with those kids around because they were on-purpose trying to hit them. Another women in the rink house said those kids are there all the time and that they bother everyone and last week were all banned for a few days, for spitting at other skaters.
Back outside, there were excellent new mats for going from the rink house to the ice. The zamboni truck came up and unloaded, with a huydraulic system that looked much like the dumpster trucks. The zamboni driver said they like that "tilt and load" truck because it's much easier on their backs than a trailer, although their flying squad has a trailer too. He said they used to have two tilt-and-loads, and had even arranged for one of them to be modified to be more useful. But as soon as it was out of the shop, he said, it was requisitioned by the West rinks, and they had never seen it again.
At 5.40 there were eight skaters on the ice and another 5-6 kids inside the rink house. Regent South is always a fun place to start a conversation -- people (usually kids) are polite and they always have interesting things to tell. There was some difference of opinion about when the flying squad comes, but most kids felt it comes twice a day, either at 2 and 6 or at 12 and 4. The ice on Friday was good. The building attendant, whose little brother was also there, said they had a permit last year but this year "nobody wanted one." If the ice is bad, they don't use shovels, since their long green scrapers got broken. They were never fixed.
One of the kids was retaping his stick. They said they can buy hockey tape at the variety store across the street, the Daisy Mart, which stocks it along with groceries.
I asked the kids if they wanted a photo on the web site and at first they said they wanted an action shot, but then they changed their minds. They said I should write that the Regent kids are shy -- but talented.
At 6.45 there was a big Montessori School permit on the ice. More parents and little kids kept coming -- looked like it was 70-80 people.
the rink guard said that the permit was taking the place of normal Fiday night pleasure skating. He also said that the ice had been giving them trouble -- there were long deep cracks all over the ice and the rink had been closed for two hours in the afternoon for a special maintenance session. He said that there is an old zamboni from North York in a garage at Kew, but for this special maintenance they brought over a better zamboni. the driver scraped the ice, then gave it repeated "towel-floods," and afterwards the cracks were much less.
The rink guard also said that most of the weekend there's not much shinny.
Weather: High -2, low -5. Cloudy most of the day.
Ice maintenance: 9am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm (scrape only), 7pm scrape only, 8:55pm s/f.
There were several spots that were very thin, just barely covering the cement. The permit people put up a circle of pylons, and at the end they put in some slush to patch the holes.
The "pond" side was much better. Shinny hockey regular Will was there again, this time introducing his father, also visiting from out of town. We're hoping to be introduced to some cousins next.
I think certain ice maintenance problems have reached a critical threshold.
1. Dangerously thin ice in the middle of Dufferin Rink. As you may know, thin ice near the centre has been a problem for some weeks -- tonight it was almost cement. Dufferin missed two floods today even though the market was NOT busy and there were few people around. Even so, I'm wondering if it's time to get a consultation from CIMCO -- sometimes in the past they've had to change a central setting.
Ice maintenance: pre-9am s/f, 12:30pm s/f, 6pm scrape (machine couldn't flood). Rink very busy.
E-mail from cityrinks.ca to Rink supervisor Peter Leiss and City Councillor Adam Giambrone's assistant Chris Gallop:
Bunching together two scrapes/floods at Wallace during the non-busy times and then doing only one ice maintenance in the busy times does not work. There are alternatives to make it work better. (I have found out today that Dieppe is also getting less than the necessary maintenance -- so Wallace is not the very worst of the double pads, as I thought it was. But compared e.g. to High Park it's a scandal.)
E-mail from cityrinks.ca to Parks supervisor Dave Chapman Tonight when I passed by Giovanni Caboto Rink, the stairs had an access-way cleared and the front door was unlocked. Good stuff, thanks for solving that problem.
Weather: High -5, low -8, cloudy. Ice maintenance: 9am scrape and flood both sides, 2pm scrape and flood hockey side plus edger, 3:15pm scrape and flood both sides, 7pm scrape and flood both sides, 9pm scrape and flood both sides. Lots of school kids again today.
Maintenance: 10 am. scrape and flood both sides, 1 pm scrape and flood both sides (didn't need it), 6 pm scrape only -- the flooding pipe was broken, due to be repaired tomorrow and a new zamboni ice-cutting blade also due to be put on. The current blade scraped the ice into odd patterns. Ice was rough as the evening wore on, because of so many skaters and no resurfacing.