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posted Feburary 11, 2006

Report of Community Meeting about Rink Management Board Proposal

February 7, 2006, Dufferin Park Rinkhouse

February 7 2006 rink meeting report.

  • a roomful of rink users
  • some Dufferin Rink staff, plus
  • City Councillor Adam Giambrone;
  • Parks, Forestry and Recreation director Don Boyle
  • 4-5 representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 416.

Background articles:

Why a Management Board?

Letter to the general manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Comments from the City (management and union).

Before Mr.Boyle came into the meeting room, he reprimanded two rink staff who were doing inside work, for not being out on the ice as rink guards. Since this was his first-ever visit to the rink when it was in season, and he did not introduce himself to the rink staff before berating them, the staff didn't realize right away who he was. Then Mr.Boyle addressed the meeting and told rink users that he was very unhappy to learn how much money was being spent to run the park, and that he would take steps to cut that amount back to the 2004 spending. He also said that while other parks and community centres in the city have well-running advisory councils with good relations to park staff, that was not the case at Dufferin Grove Park where he was having to solve a crisis every six months.

Union Representative Ron Moreau explained to the meeting that no matter who runs the rink, the law requires that they must take over all union agreements with Local 416. He also explained that the Employee Health and Safety legislation does indeed permit and even require all employees to leave a job site if they see a danger there. He said what is a danger is decided by the employee, and if ratified by any joint health and safety committee, the decision is binding, since the committee is the legally constituted authority for making health and safety assessments and orders. Another union representative said that zambonis are very dangerous and that any protocols designed to shield children from being run over are worth it.(see note)

The union representatives in the room seemed to agree that the only real problem was cutbacks to funding and that rink users should join the union in lobbying for more funds.

After the meeting, Jutta Mason said to Mr.Boyle that the City staff should use Dufferin Rink as an example to learn from, for how to run a rink that works well. Mr.Boyle said, on the contrary, Dufferin Rink has been the squeaky wheel long enough: "no more squeaky wheel."


The visiting union representative gave the park on-site staff (and rink users) the first specific hint of why Dufferin Rink has been singled out as a high-risk rink. He said that a child had run out onto the ice surface while the zamboni was on it.

Clarification: There was only one occasion this season when a child ran out onto the ice. On a weekday in January, thieves came to the rink and got into the bags of two school classes, both in the building and in the players’ boxes. A ten-year-old boy was missing $50 from his bag in the players’ box. The park staff and teachers were questioning some suspects, and the police had been called. Just at that time the zamboni driver arrived to scrape the ice. Jutta asked him to wait. But he said he was in a hurry and went out anyway. In the confusion the boy whose money was stolen slipped past the rink guard and ran out to the players’ box to take one more look. The driver saw him and stopped, and nothing happened. However, Jutta’s request to wait was unwelcome. Volunteers are not to “give instruction” to City staff.

It was not until two weeks later that the high-risk precautions were put in place. Dufferin Rink on-site staff were to strictly follow a new protocol; new barriers were to be set up for skaters; and an order came down that no more volunteers would be allowed to help when the zamboni was on the ice.

Comments from rink users:
  • If a board of management is established, it should not lead to any union job loss.
  • Any change in management should preserve the rink as a mostly free facility.
  • Dufferin Rink is the way outdoor rinks should be.
  • Unions are on the retreat in many places and they should try to work with the community rather than against it, so people won’t think unions are an obstacle to what communities want.
  • People come to Dufferin Rink from all over the city because it’s friendlier and it has better ice maintenance.
  • If the ice is too thick, the staff have to find a way to maintain it better.
  • If CUPE Local 416 workers will still be driving the zamboni, who will they report to? Will their job descriptions stay the same?
  • The City’s board-of-management community-centre staff belong to a different local of CUPE.
  • The City Arena staff don’t belong to a union but they earn comparable wages. Staff in both kinds of facilities seem to work together better than at the outdoor rinks.
  • It’s important to make any changes in such a way that it doesn’t seem like another blow from “neo-cons,” so any board of management should include union representatives
  • This neighborhood tends to be left-leaning, and people who use the rink should not be seen as hostile to unions.
  • A working committee should be established to find out more about the rules regarding community boards of management.

Note about management board research:

Six rink users put their name down for a working committee to research community boards of management. The more people who help out with the research, the more complete the information will be. Any rink users who have knowledge of community boards, please e-mail [email protected], share your insights at the rink, or leave your name and number at the zamboni café.

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Content last modified on March 30, 2008, at 08:55 PM EST