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Rink Diary 2009 - 2010

In September, some recreation staff from Wallace-Emerson Rink (10 minutes downhill from Giovanni Caboto) and CELOS made a proposal to Parks and Recreation. We asked for permission to photograph the change rooms at Giovanni Caboto, and that led to several weeks of back-and-forth, since City staff first said they had no key. They said the police had the key in the summer and fall, since they liked to use the rink changerooms to relax during their breaks when there were special events in the park.

However the key was eventually tracked down, and we took the photographs for use in a bulletin. We made a mock bulletin showing the simple but nice things that could be achieved in the 09/10 rink season. Then we sent them the list of proposals.

Then we had a meeting with the two directors, Andy Koropeski of Parks and Malcolm Bromley of Recreation. However, Mr.Bromley was most concerned with a possible conflict of interest for the recreation staff, who might stand to gain more hours of work if this project went ahead.

October 15 2009, email from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason

We have scheduled an all skate staff Management meeting for Monday October 19th at which time we plan to discuss the upcoming season. Andy and I both agree in principle with the plan for JJP and Wallace. Both the Parks and Recreation Branches are committed to improving the quality of the skating program. We will be conveying our mutual expectations to the staff on Monday. The ways and means of implementation will be sorted out by the Managers within a timely manner. Andy is following up on the immediate repair of the gate at Wallace. We will contact you after Mondays meeting to arrange a follow up meeting.

October 15, 2009, from Jutta Mason to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley

Re the programming suggestions for JJP: we would need to know by the end of next week i.e. October latest, i.e. October 23, whether you want to use your PT staff's experience to make this work. The senior PT staff who would be involved are already fully booked at Dufferin/Wallace/Campbell and they'd have to arrange for more junior people to step up and fill in the holes. Plus there's some detail work needed to make sure that there's no added cost. It will be tricky but the staff told me they'd enjoy putting their efforts into this.

I'm intrigued to see if you and Andy will decide to make this happen. If it has support from the top, it will work.

October 15 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason

Part of Mondays meeting will be to develop an action plan that factors in your ideas. We will consult with you asap once our staff develop the plan. This won't be a drawn out process. I want our staff to be allowed to do their work on this.

October 15, 2009, from Jutta Mason to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley

Not trying to rush you, just to be realistic. October 23 is realistic. If your managers/supervisors want to talk to us -- that would make sense, wouldn't it? -- rather than just going off and discussing with each other, there would be an even better chance that progress could be made.

We may have a better outdoor rinks overview than most of your staff. -- and you will note that has this season's rink opening information whereas neither the city "rink hotline" nor the city website have been updated since last season. It's only a bit over a month from when the first 14 outdoor rinks open.

Time to take more action, for sure.

October 16 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason

Yes it does make sense. We will decide who is going to work with you on Monday.

E-mail from Jutta Mason sent to Malcolm Bromley, Wednesday Oct.21 2009

I called today to find out about our Giovanni Caboto/Wallace rink proposal. I gather that a supervisory meeting on the subject is planned for next week. Sadly, that's too late for us. The PT rec staff say that with so little lead time, even our simple suggestions would be too hard to plan for. I agree.

An opportunity lost, for that neighbourhood! However, perhaps the Giovanni Caboto Rink staff will be motivated to put out a better effort this year than last. I'll keep you posted, via

October 25 2009, from Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley to Jutta Mason

Andy and I don't think its too late to improve the skating program. For the first time ever we held an all management skating staff meeting for programs across the City. True we would have been better positioned if we did this earlier but I am still optimistic. Our message to staff was that we will work as one team in our pursuit of high quality outdoor rink services. Andy and I will be closely monitoring the work of our staff teams. We will welcome the assistance of you and Celos.

In late November, a Star article made reference to the proposal, and to general manager Brenda Patterson's rejoinder.

December 1 2009

Floods have begun and the ice is laying down well. At five pm there were even three kids skating on the thin ice of the hockey side.

There are some repairs that still need to be attended to, though.

light post knocked over by zamboni

BMX platforms need to be removed for winter storage

hockey gate that sticks

wobbly stair-rail needs to be reinforced.
Friday Dec.4 2009

lots of skate marks before the opening

The ice is good enough that a full-on hockey game was happening here in the evening, even though the rink is not officially supposed to be open until Saturday.

Saturday Dec.5 2009

Wallace was one of the few rinks to open on time on this first official day of the citywide rink season. The ice was brittle, not as good as yesterday, but still there were lots of people on the rink and inside the change room/clubhouse. Sadly, even less of the rubber mats returned this year from the Parks storage area, so getting from the clubhouse to the ice is tricky.

Ice maintenance: once, at (1) 12 noon. Staff and rink users hand-scraped again at 6.30 pm.

opening day

the welcome sign
Sunday Dec.6 2009

The rink was very busy, with lots of enthusiastic "welcome back" greetings. The rink staff said they hadn't intended to enforce the 12-and-under rule for the first Sunday, but so many little kids came with their parents that they changed their minds and took all the older kids off.

Ice maintenance: (1) 12 and (2) 5.45 pm.

Monday Dec.7 2009

An e-mail was sent to Councillor Giambrone, as agreed.

Good morning Adam,

This weekend Wallace Rink had one ice resurfacing on Saturday and two on Sunday. Only one flood was at the time of the agreed schedule. Between 3 and 4 every day were promised for this rink. Attendance was high so the agreement should be kept.

Also, in each of the past two years many of the new mats (from the rink renewal) have not returned from Parks storage -- this year the shortage requires skaters to hop between. No luck getting more, so far.

Can you help?

Response from Councillor Giambrone:

"it all starts again. Yes, we will get on it." Ice maintenance: (1) 10 a.m and (2) 6.15 p.m.

Tuesday Dec.8 2009

Ice maintenance: (1) 11.50 a.m. and (2) 8 p.m.

Dec.9 2009

There was snow mixed with rain overnight from last night, and the rink was closed all day, without any maintenance.

E-mail from Jutta Mason sent to Recreation Director Malcolm Bromley

no evidence of follow-up on the Giovanni Caboto front yet (referring to your October 25 note) -- I gather that a meeting last night with John Fulton had only one of their rink staff (five from Wallace) and resulted in no firm plans of any kind.

Thursday Dec.10 2009

At 9.30 a.m. the rink was closed with no evidence of maintenance yet -- ice was in very rough shape from the Tuesday night storm, also the nets were frozen in. Resurfacing was done between 10 am and 2 pm, with the hockey pad opening then but the pleasure-skating pad still not able to open despite hand-flooding (lots of chunks missing).

snow and trash piled right on campfire site

There's a 6-foot high pile of snow right on top of the campfire site, with pieces of trash stuck into it. The rink has a whole lot of trash wood left over from when the BMX park was, not cleared away.

Good news: the rink got more of its mats back, finally. But -- bad news --the Park staff's hand-flooding put lots of water on top of the mats and so they're totally frozen in and covered with a thick layer of ice. Some of those mats are needed to go around the campfire site, and also people will fall on them as they are now.

By 5.30 there had still been no more ice maintenance so some rec programming had to be shared-use of the hockey side. The 12 hockey players on the other half were a little grumpy, but the staff gave everyone free hot chocolate to warm them up, including the 15-year-olds who stayed off the ice because they weren't interested in sharing.

At 6.30 some ice maintenance staff came by to do another hand-flood (no zambonis?) but they left without doing it (apparently because they had no key to the compressor room, to get the hose out).

At 8.30 the Beginner's shinny program started, then 20 minutes later the flying squad came with the zamboni. They scraped the pleasure-skating pad but wouldn't do the hockey pad because the operator said he was too cold. So they left.

Friday December 11 2009

Ice maintenance: (1) 11.50 a.m. and (2) 6.30 pm.

Rec staff spent a long time chipping out the mats from the ice.

Tech services came and removed the stub of the broken lamp-post, they say they'll put in a new lamp-post next week, but behind the fence so that the plough won't hit it again.

The program staff showed tech services the malfunction of the hockey gate where the players enter -- the foreman said they could probably fix it next week.

The wooden steps to the west have been repaired.

Saturday Dec.12 2009

Ice maintenance: (1) 10.50 a.m. and (2) 6.15 pm

The gates to the hockey rinks never did work very well from the day the rink was rebuilt, and they're getting worse. The zamboni gate swings open and the pucks fly out.

the gate won't stay shut, so the pucks fly out

defective latch

twilight comes by mid-afternoon

In the evening the kid who is banned came back again. He was told to leave, and some of his friends and cousins argued on his behalf, to no avail. There was an interesting short discussion among the kids, about what kind of behaviour could be expected from a kid. Some people felt that any kind of behaviour was okay if you were still young - "all kids act like that." Other kids, apparently having gone to guidance class, said that this kid "makes bad choices." The kid was walking around with a bandana over his face, which added to his attempts to be noticed.

Sunday Dec.13 2009

Ice maintenance: (1) 11.50 scrape only (raining), (2) 5.15 pm.

Monday Dec.14 2009

Ice maintenance: (1) 12 noon s/f both sides, (2) 8pm - s/f hockey - scrape only on pleasure-skating side

Tuesday Dec.15 2009

Ice maintenance: 12pm and 6:50pm

From Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Patterson to Jutta Mason, Dec.15 2009

Sites that do not have secure storage space for ice cleaning equipment are serviced by ‘fly squads’, crews which travel on a rotating basis with ice cleaning equipment to provide maintenance to groups of three to four rinks. Fly crews allows the division to maximize both staffing and equipment resources while providing a good level of service to the public. These locations are serviced twice daily, depending on weather and ice conditions, usage patterns, permits and programs, and traffic disruptions. The one exception to this scenario is Wallace Emerson, a double-pad used for both hockey and pleasure skating with high usage. Due to lack of appropriate facilities for equipment and staff, Emerson is serviced by a fly squad, which is committed to providing service three times daily, conditions permitting.

Wednesday Dec.16 2009

Ice maintenance: 11.30 am, 6.40 pm

Comparison census, 6.30 pm:

Wallace Rink, 22 shinny hockey players, 10 pleasure-skaters

Giovanni Caboto: 8 shinny hockey players, 5 pleasure-skaters

Thursday Dec.17 2009

Ice maintenance: 11.30 a.m., 7.35 pm.

E-mail from cityrinks to Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Patterson, Dec 17:

Up to now, Wallace Rink has only ever had two resurfacings a day -- never the three your letter states. When will this change?

E-mail from Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Patterson, to cityrinks:

With respect to the Wallace Rink floods I have been advised that because of staff illness and vacancies we have not yet achieved the 3 floods but that is our intended level of service.

Friday Dec.18 2009

Ice maintenance: before 9, again at 6 pm

Census and comparison, 2.00 to 2.20 pm:

Dufferin Rink: 15 shinny hockey, 54 pleasure-skaters 27 inside

Wallace Rink: 25 shinny hockey, 21 pleasure-skaters, 7 inside

Giovanni Caboto Rink: 6 shinny hockey, no pleasure-skaters

Census and comparison, 8 pm:

Dufferin Rink: 19 shinny hockey, 34 pleasure-skaters, 28 inside

Wallace Rink: 8 shinny hockey, 0 pleasure-skaters, 6 inside

Giovanni Caboto Rink: 9 shinny hockey, 5 pleasure-skaters

Campbell Rink: 14 shinny hockey, 6 inside

Saturday Dec.19 2009

Ice maintenance: 10 am and 5.45 pm

Census and Comparison, 5 pm:

Wallace Rink: 22 shinny hockey, 19 pleasure-skaters, 10 inside

Giovanni Caboto Rink: 10 shinny hockey, 26 pleasure-skaters, 11 inside

Sunday December 20 2009

Ice maintenance: before 10, 12.30, 5 pm.

big 12-and-under turnout

lively pleasure-skating

young talent

This rink is very lively without being congested like Dufferin Rink can be. The only contested turf at Wallace Rink is the shinny hockey side, when the younger kids have the ice reserved for them and their parent(s). Three young guys made a great big fuss when the staff took them off the little-kids' ice, saying "we pay taxes, this is crazy!" One of them was in goalie gear. The staff phoned over to Campbell, and found out there was a good game going on there, that these guys could join. But they didn't have a car. The goalie said -- "how am I going to get all my stuff over there?" It turned out that he'd dragged his goalie bag along the sidewalk all the way from Dufferin and Davenport.

We need a shuttle-bus between Wallace and Campbell.

pole waiting for installation

Repairs have stalled, although there's a hopeful sign for the light standard replacement. The stub of old one that was knocked over by the snowplough a couple of year ago has been dug up out of the ground, and a new pole was a delivered a few weeks ago. It's lying on the ground just awaiting installation. The defective mechanism on the shinny hockey door is still bad, and so is the zamboni gate.

The most frustrating thing today was that the zambonis had dumped even more snow on the campfire site, so the firesite had to be moved. Two years ago, the park supervisor stopped all campfires because he felt the Wallace family-day campfire was killing the trees. The trees show no sign of damage, but the process of restoring the campfire program took so much effort. Now the Parks crew are dumping the snow on the bureaucratically-designated official campfire site, and there's been no response to the request to clear it.

Nobody home.

close to the trees

snow on the campfire spot

zamboni left there

Today there were three ice resurfacings, for the first time this season. That's the good news. The zamboni was even left at the park for a few hours, and people got excited -- did they finally decide to be fair and give Wallace Rink its own machine?

But then it disappeared again. And the bad news was that it looks as though the letter of the law may be followed here, rather than the spirit. The general manager said that Wallace would get three floods a day, eventually -- but two of them will be in the morning, and only one in the evening, when the rink gets so much use.

Meantime, 10 minutes up the hill, there's zamboni driver who has an hour and a half of work in an 8-hour day. Like most of the zamboni staff in the city. Oh dear.

Census and comparison, 12 noon:

Wallace 21 shinny hockey (7 had helmets), 14 pleasure skaters, 6 inside

Giovanni Caboto Rink: 6 shinny hockey (all wearing helmets); 6 pleasure skaters, 5 inside (front doors were unlocked)

Census and comparison, 4-5 pm:

Wallace 24 shinny hockey, 60 pleasure-skaters; 20 inside

Giovanni Caboto: 12 shinny hockey (all wearing helmets), 18 pleasure skaters

Monday Dec.21, 2009

Ice maintenance: before 10, 1.45 pm and 5.15 pm.

Census and comparison, 5 pm:

Giovanni Caboto Rink: 16 shinny hockey, 13 pleasure skaters, 9 inside.

Wallace Rink: 13 shinny hockey, 13 pleasure-skating, 20 inside

Dufferin Rink: 19 shinny hockey, 43 pleasure skaters, 27 inside

Census and comparison, 7.30 pm:

Giovanni Caboto Rink: 10 shinny hockey, 17 pleasure skaters, 15 inside

Wallace Rink: 27 shinny hockey, 10 pleasure skaters, 19 inside

Dufferin Rink: 21 shinny hockey, 27 pleasure skaters, 32 inside.

E-mail from CityRinks to Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, Dec.21 2009

We need to talk about ice maintenance. There are puzzles out there. Last year after Adam got involved in February, it was suddenly possible to give Wallace two ice resurfacings on the evening shift, during the time of heavy usage: February 2009 Rink diary For a while there were even four ice maintenance visits a day.

This year it's not possible, again. Doing two early zamboni visits doesn't solve the problem.

Meantime, Giovanni Caboto, just up the hill in the staff-rich administrative region of Etobicoke, has about half the skaters of Wallace (and less than a third of the skaters at Dufferin) but it has two full shifts of on-site zamboni operators every day. And a zamboni. (numbers)

And Campbell -- which also has lots of use -- may have had only one zamboni visit today (and that happened after pressure from a permit-holder).

We've been talking about this strange situation for some years. The general manager says, it's because of illness and vacancies. Hmmm.

Can Adam intervene more energetically again?

Tuesday December 22, 2009

Ice maintenance: 11.30 a.m. (until then the ice was very bad from the night before), 5.30 pm. Skaters had tried to clear off some of the snow by using the benches (on their sides) to push it into piles. So they could (kind of) play shinny hockey on this holiday morning. But with snow piles, there's always a danger that a puck will be buried. Then when the flying crew finally comes with their zamboni, if the hidden puck is sucked up into the augur, that puts the zamboni into the shop for three days. If (when) that happens, the whole operation will be even more behind. Oh dear.

Wednesday December 23 2009

Ice maintenance: before 9 am, 12.30 pm, 7.45 pm.

An evening ice resurfacing happened today, at 7.45 pm - a first for this season, Joy to the world! (the world of the rink)

Click on pictures to enlarge them.

rental skates bring friends together

a break in the rinkhouse

This rink has also had a resurgence of young teenage skaters, like Dufferin Rink, and similarly boosted by the rental skates. And the south-facing windows in the rink change room make it a pleasing place for a rest or a snack or a game of checkers. If the ice maintenance keeps improving, this rink will be set for the winter.


11am: 11 shinny hockey (2 helmets on children) 5 pleasure skaters, 4 inside

2pm 17 pleasure skaters, 20 shinny hockey, 10 inside

3.15 pm 27 pleasure skaters, 12 shinny hockey

9pm 8 pleasure skaters, 10 shinny hockey

Thursday Dec.24 2009

Ice maintenance 9.45 scrape and flood, 2.30 scrape only.

2 pm: 7 shinny hockey, 10 pleasure-skaters, 25 inside.

Friday Dec.25 2009

Ice maintenance: on-site rink staff worked with skaters to clear the ice with shovels. This was all done by 1 pm.

Saturday Dec.26 2009 Boxing Day

Ice maintenance: scrape at 2.30.

Sunday December 27 2009

Ice maintenance: 9.50 scrape and flood, 5 pm scrape and flood.

Numbers, 11.30 am: 13 shinny hockey (one helmet) 6 inside, 8 pleasure-skaters

Numbers, 2 pm: 22 pleasure-skaters, 25 all-ages shinny hockey, of which 6 have helmets (all young or parents)

Numbers, 4pm: 20 skaters for "12 and under" (11 helmets) 30 pleasure skaters, 20 inside

Numbers, 6.30pm: 27 for all ages shinny hockey (7 helmets), 15 pleasure-skaters

Monday December 28 2009

Excerpt from Monday Rink Report #6, sent to Parks Director Andy Koropeski by Jutta Mason:

Intimidation: When they arrived at the Ward 18 rinks after my complaint on Boxing Day, some of the ice maintenance crew seemed upset and angry. At Wallace Rink, the zamboni drove so fast along the path from the rink to the trailer that I was forced to get off the path quickly with my bike, to avoid being hit. This was after eye contact had been made with the driver. Ten minutes later at Campbell Rink I saw the same thing happen as the zamboni drove onto the rink from the parked trailer -- the recreation staff had to jump out of the way. I am told that this staff person has filed a complaint. Over the years, some ice maintenance staff have said that they are the ones being intimidated, by the requests for better ice maintenance. This feeling can best be addressed by more hands-on supervisions and clearer direction about the need for energetic ice maintenance at outdoor rinks. $3.2 million of our taxes ought to buy that. So should triple-time-and-a-half buy us better maintenance, which is what the zamboni crew are paid to work on stat holidays.

Ice maintenance: 9am scrape and flood, 1:45 scrape and flood hockey side, scrape only on pleasure-skating side, 4:45pm scrape and flood

The zamboni driver went very fast on hockey on side, was asked to slow down, went slower on pleasure-skating side.

Numbers, 2:45pm: 22 shinny hockey, 10 helmets (younger kids only), 24 pleasure-skaters, 2 helmets (kids only); 26 inside

Tuesday December 29 2009

Ice maintenance: pre 10am, 5.15pm scrape and flood. No more because the flying squad has a broken-down flatbed truck and can't move the zamboni.

Number at 4pm: for all-ages shinny hockey there were 30 (only children with helmets), 25 on pleasure-skating side and 30 inside

Numbers at 5.30pm: for the 13-17 time slot there were 20 (kids with helmets) 18 pleasure-skaters (1/2 with helmets), 20 inside.

Skate rental was big every day this week. Lots of passports used as I.D. -- so many newcomers learning how to skate!

E-mail from Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Dec.30 2009 Since it's evident that Wallace can't get proper ice cleaning as part of the flying squad system, could you ask Parks to supply two more of the long metal rink shovels for manual scrapes?

That way the rink program staff can work with rink users to clear the ice manually at the proper times. There are lots of rink users, so it should work. Also, when the trailer or the zamboni are broken, the flying squad staff could be assigned to help everyone clear manually -- they always used to use shovels in the old days.

The other part here is communication: it has been the practice of Parks NOT to let on-site staff or users know in advance when they are on their way or when the equipment is broken down. As far as I know, Wallace ice maintenance (except during bad weather) works best when it's at 9am, 4pm, 7:30pm

Could you ask Parks to let on-site staff and rink users know beforehand if they're canceling any of those ice maintenance times? Otherwise people will shovel only to find that the zamboni arrives right after, because it was only late -- very frustrating.

Please let me know if that's possible -- thanks!

Wednesday Dec.30 2009

Ice maintenance: before 10am, 1pm really a good scrape of both rinks, 7:30pm a scrape of both rinks. The long wait in the middle was tough because there were SO many skaters at the rink today that the ice was really scuffed up. But at least there were no flurries.

Thursday Dec.31 2009

Ice maintenance: 10 am, thorough scrape; 3.30 pm thorough scrape.

Rain -- low numbers of skaters. Numbers at 2 pm: 12-and-under shinny hockey 11 (7 helmets, all kids), 3 pleasure skaters, 4 inside

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Content last modified on January 06, 2011, at 02:25 PM EST