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Rink Diary 2008 - 2009

Saturday December 6 2008

On opening day the rink has a thin layer of ice but it looks skateable. However there's no one skating. The sign says "Weather permitting, this rink will open on Dec.9." Only the "9" is changed to "8" with black felt marker. Maybe that's one reason why there's no one here -- the sign is wrong, because it's still up from last year.


wrong opening date on sign

ice thin but skateable

The building attendant is there, and the rec staff coordinator is just passing by. He says that the rink house is still in bad shape, and that a guy approached them to see if he could run a little snack bar out of the rink -- but it didn't go anywhere. I suggest skate rentals. We agree that this rink is a beautiful but slightly sad orphan, not living up to its potential.

Thursday December 25 2008

The rink is open, with good ice and five skaters, of whom one is wearing a Santa hat and one has a hockey stick. All wave when I tell them I'm taking a photo for cityrinks.ca. It's a beautiful day and the skaters look very pleased.

January 24, 2009

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."

January 24 2009, e-mail from cityrinks.ca to L.S.

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.

January 25 2009

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.

January 25 2009, e-mail from cityrinks.ca to Recreation supervisor Dave Hains, cc L.S.

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.

January 26 2009, e-mail from Recreation supervisor Dave Hains to L.S.

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.

Sunday February 1 2009

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.

Wednesday February 4, 2009


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.

Thursday February 5, 2009

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!

Monday February 16 2009

(Family Day holiday)

E-mail from L.S.

Today is a perfect skating day, with bright sunshine and a temperature that's not too high or low. I visited the Ryerson rink between about 12 and 1 and there were at least a dozen skaters, including several families with children and one man I recognized from my figure-skating club. Apparently one of our club coaches works at Ryerson and also uses the rink . This rink may be an orphan but it has interested friends out there.

Unfortunately, the ice conditions at opening were not up to an acceptable standard, except around the perimeter of the rink There were more than 6 craters in the ice surface. When I complained, the attendant quickly placed chairs and cones on the largest depressions, and called in a supervisor who promised it would be fixed "within a day or two". Fixed today would be better, but alas, we orphan-rink supporters cannot be too demanding.

I am happy to report that the building was open as scheduled today (noon) and the attendant was a truly charming gent who says he's 45 but looks 25! Maybe he was pulling my leg...

The cityrinks.ca visitor was also there. L.S. pointed out the craters in the ice, and they looked pretty deep.


skating around the craters

Alex, the rink co-ordinator, has a friendly talk with L.S.

One of the skaters told L.S. that she was an interfering busybody and so was the cityrinks visitor, and they should both mind their own business. This was on the basis of overhearing the complaint about the craters. His bark was worse than his bite, though -- he said he loves the downtown rinks, except for Nathan Phillips Square Rink, which is too crowded. He was unenthusiastic about anything like skate rentals, which he felt would bring more users to Ryerson Rink. It turned out that one of the best things about the rink, for him, is that so few people use it. Fair enough! But nevertheless, the rinks are expensive to run, and they need better care. The huge rock that forms part of the change room wall is marred by graffiti. And the place needs paint.


graffiti -- or the truth? on the inside rock

paint me!

 
Thursday February 19 2009

E-mail from L.S.: The CityRinks visit to Ryerson rink on Family Day seems to have borne fruit, as the ice was beautifully smooth tonight. When I first arrived (7:30pm) I was disappointed but not surprised to see a thick coating of fluffy snow from this afternoon's storm. I cleared a track for myself using the shovel from the rink building. Around 8 the Zamboni team arrived and did a proper clearing. The ice did not need flooding - it was perfect, and I skated around the rocks enjoying the night (if not the wind).

The attendant told me the maintenance squad had been to the rink at 11 and 3 today, so this was an (unusual) third visit. The zamboni operator was very insistent that the attendant log their visit. Perhaps this is due to some pressure from higher up? Whatever the reason, the result was a rink in nice condition tonight. Too bad no one else braved the cold.

Sunday March 1 2009

E-mail from L.S.: Another beautiful day for skating outdoors: clear, cold and sunny. I arrived at about 11:15 am. Once again, door locked and no sign of attendant. One other adult skater on the ice. I put my skates on outside. At 11:30 a female attendant who is often working on Sundays appeared, standing outside the rink building door talking on her cell phone. As she has two other Sundays in the past, she said she had called a supervisor to report she was late. This time she said it was due to a death in her family.

It is hard to tell whether this young woman has valid personal reasons for being chronically late opening the building on Sundays, but it is not acceptable from a rink user's point of view. While I was inside the building she asked me to speak to her supervisor Alex, and handed me the phone. Alex apologized for the inconvenience but seemed to share the worker's point of view that as long as lateness is reported to a supervisor, everything is fine.

While this was going on a family of 4 arrived and two more adult skaters for a total of 8 on the ice by 12. The ice was not in acceptable condition, had evidently not been resurfaced and was covered with holes bumps and soft areas. I stayed around the area until 1:30 today and no sign of zamboni team. Of course, everyone was enjoying skating despite conditions, but my companion and I were not able to skate very fast for fear of tripping on a hole.

I was sad to leave as this is the final day for the season at this "orphan rink". I hope my complaints have at least made the City staff aware that there are concerned users who care about the state of the Ryerson rink.


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Content last modified on March 01, 2009, at 04:12 PM EST