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Here's a look at the running of Ryerson Rink during the rink season of 2005/2006. Toronto has 47 neighborhood compressor-powered outdoor rinks (that's not counting the big outdoor rinks in central squares). The rinks range from lively meeting places for their neighborhoods to squalid hangouts for very troubled people. The rinks are also demonstration sites of the joys and troubles that beset city staff. Jutta Mason visited some rinks every day, some just occasionally.
4.35 p.m. No skaters. An on-site rink staff sitting inside at a desk. He told me the last scrape they had was the day before at 4 p.m. Ice frosty but smooth. The rink staff said that a lot of people cut across the rink, in shoes, to get to their parked cars and indeed, as we stood outside we saw it about ten times. No one fell. The rink staff told me that he has no phone in the building. There’s a phone in the windowless garage, but if he stayed in there he couldn’t see anything.
The rink is a beautiful little jewel with huge Canadian Shield boulders embedded on the ice surface, and a little elegant Japanese-style rink house actually built around two of the boulders. But the windows of the rink house are yellowing plastic that you can no longer see through, there’s a hole in the wall around a heat vent, with bits of insulation hanging out, and the washroom has lots of gross graffiti scrawled on the door. And no staff phone! For a few thousand dollars it could be a wonderful place. But as it stands, few people skate there. Right beside a school of 20,000 students, half a block from the Eaton Centre – and the rink is almost empty.
10.10 p.m. A sign at the side of the rink said “skating prohibited between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.” But there were two groups of skaters just lacing up their skates – more than I’ve seen there in the daytime. As I watched them, one of the zamboni drivers from City Hall walked by. I asked him about the sign. “That’s nothing, that’s just to protect them against lawsuits.” He said he loves to see the hockey at City Hall, that rinks should be used as much as possible.
Sunny, 2 degrees celcius 3.30: ice almost perfect (lots of tall buildings nearby mean the ice is rarely in full sun). Rink full of pleasure skaters.
sunny then cloudy then sunny: 15 degrees celsius 1.10 p.m. completely in shade: About an inch of water on the rink – looks like a pond. No skaters.