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Rink user comments: "Don't shrink the rink!"
From BlogTO: “It’s about a third of the size of the current hockey rink, which is already packed with people,” Westreich says. “You could maybe play two on two hockey on the pad, three on three if you’re really pushing it.....Westreich and two friends who have worked on this project together will be at the rink on Saturday, Jan. 22 passing out hot chocolate, and flyers, making people aware of what is happening.”
Opened for the season
Posts from earlier years
COVID-RELATED RESTRICTIONS: To find out how to book a skating time, go to the city's outdoor rinks web page.
All shinny hockey has been removed except for Greenwood (and only children and youth are allowed there). The city's opening rules are described here and our rinks blog is here.
The posters about figuring out a way to do skate lending and non-contact hockey have been removed. Rink staff were non-committal about how that might have happened.
The bulletin board we fixed up ten years ago for community bulletins is still there, so I put up Ian Merringer's letter with the addresses of the politicians to ask about skate lending and shinny. Plus A description of shinny, plus some pics of the skate collection and of a shinny game. I talked to the staff about what I was doing. One said that the board was only for pandemic rules. I said that's what my bulletins are about, too. She said that skate lending wouldn't be fair to the staff, because people sweat when they skate, and it would be dangerous for the staff to take the skates back and re-sanitize them, even after week-long loans. I said it would be like librarians lending out books and then sanitizing them, but she said it wasn't the same. [Jutta]
The rink is rarely near its maximum number of skaters (25 per pad allowed under the lockdown rules). And the skaters are mostly adults either skating alone or with young kids. Better than nothing, but where are all the youth and older kids who used to almost live at the rink all winter?
Part of the problem is that kids who can't afford skates or have grown out of them can no longer access the cheap skate loans they relied on in other winters. The rink has well over 100 good-quality pairs of skates in all sizes, and last year the staff even set up a room for the collection, with impressive purpose-built shelves. But they're locked away now.
The other problem is that kids want to play, not just skate up and down in an orderly way. Shinny hockey is what draws them to the rink. It's non-contact hockey and the times when two players get closed than 6 feet apart is less than on a sidewalk, on TTC, or in basketball. The youth say they're fine with being masked, and there would be far fewer than 25 people on a rink. But so far no dice.
At 10.15 a.m. Wallace Rink had a few skaters, but the two staff said they had been told they should close after one session. They said that the machinery had been broken and was not fixed until Thursday, so that's when ice making began. Hm.
At 9 a.m. Wallace Rink looked like its ice was still too thin, but the zamboni was filling, so it might be okay later in the week.
Wallace Emerson rink is extremely soft, it seems pretty dangerous to me. It's easy to trip on the holes in the ice. It's not good for beginners or people who are nervous about falling. There are about 6 people attempting to skate on the pleasure pad, and a game of shinny going on, on the hockey side (which may have slightly better ice).
A little update -- many people are still not aware that this is probably the final year of the hockey rinks -- it will be removed and replaced with a skating trail, followed by many giant condos. High pressure pre-sales offices opened in late summer.
During the holidays, there was no skate sharpening at all. Over the past week, about a dozen of the newer skates had been stolen, but most staff hadn't actually noticed.
From Michael Monastyrskyj:
Last week I went to an open house about the new community centre the Reimagine Galleria developers want to build to replace the current one.
I was shocked to learn that the proposal doesn't include a full-sized hockey rink. A while back I sent an email to this list expressing a concern that the proposed changes to Wallace wouldn't include a double ice pad. I was assured by Ana Bailao's office that the developer would include an equivalent rink facility in any changes made to the park. The design I saw last week isn't an equivalent facility. read more
Opened: Nov.24, 2018
After some troubles getting through to the rink, Finlander Paavo Tuovinen was able to bring his friends to Wallace Rink and play some hockey before the five foreign students (from Finland and Denmark) finished their semester and went back home.
A little history: In mid-November, Paavo wrote to find out if he and his student friends could borrow skates and sticks at Dufferin Rink to try hockey. But Dufferin Rink was out of action. On Nov.28, Paavo wrote to cityrinks.ca:
So we gave him the supervisor's email and phone number, but that didn't work:
So we connected him directly with onsite staff Michael Monastyrskyj. The next day Paavo and his friends were on the ice.
At 8:15pm it was damp and zero degrees Celsius. There were 18 players on the hockey pad and 16 skaters on the pleasure rink.
At 11:15am there were 14 hockey players on the shinny pad. They were mostly youth. There were four skaters on the pleasure pad. One of the skaters was mom using a skate aid to help her child.
At 5:30pm there were 19 players on the shinny pad. They were mostly young with a few adults. The play was slow-paced. There 13 skaters on the pleasure rink.
At 9:30pm, the hockey pad was being used by a permit group that usually plays at Dufferin. The group was moved to Wallace because Dufferin is closed due to a problem with the refrigeration system. There were ten players on the hockey side.
There were six hockey players and two skaters on the leisure rink. (Hockey players start to use the pleasure rink when the rink officially closes at 9.)
One of the hockey players told me that there had been more than 30 players on the hockey side at 7pm.
At 8:30 the temperature was two degrees Celsius. There were 20 hockey players on the shinny side and 12 people on the pleasure side including two boys playing hockey. The rink guard was playing hockey on the shinny side. The two boys on the pleasure side decided to use the plastic skate aids as nets. A staff person came out of the changeroom and told the boys to take their hockey sticks off the ice. Then she called over the rink guard. She scolded him for not watching the pleasure side. Then he went back to playing hockey. At 9pm there were five hockey players left including the rink guard. The female staff person came out and told the male hockey players to get off the ice. Five female players took their place.
At 7:15, it was cold and damp. Light snow was falling. There were 22 guys playing on the shinny side. There were eight people on the pleasure side, but three of them were playing hockey. They were also smoking on the ice. There was no rink guard outside even though there's one on the schedule.
The rink opened on time and by 10 a.m. the first few skaters had arrived. Then it started to rain, so today won't be as busy as it will be the next few weeks, now that nearby Dufferin Rink has suddenly been closed indefinitely.
Public Open House: Vision for the New Wallace Emerson Community Centre and Park Master Plan
As part of the Galleria Mall site redevelopment process, I have been working to expand the size of Wallace Emerson Park by more than 25% and double the size of the Wallace Emerson Community Centre, which will include a new child care facility for our community. The expanded park and new community centre will be an exciting project that will enhance our community for generations to come.
As the City begins the design process for the new community centre, childcare facility and Park Master Plan, we need your input! Please join me, City staff and the Reimagine Galleria project team for a Visioning Session and Open House on Thursday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Galleria Mall (1245 Dupont Street) so you can share your ideas and feedback. An optional walking tour of Wallace Emerson Park will be held starting promptly at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. The walking tour will start at the Reimagine Galleria storefront (between the Happy Bakery and LCBO at the Galleria Mall).
This rink is one of the few marked open (sunny all day, temp +8). At 5 pm the rink attendant said it's not really skateable but there are 5 people trying (both sides)
Sounds like staff are being assigned to do a Caribbean-themed Family Day event at all three Ward 18 rinks (Dufferin, Wallace, Campbell) -- no posters yet.
At 12.30 the rink has few skaters. There are three staff assigned for most of the day, one of whom is a youth worker, who makes cookies and rents skates if there are no troublesome youth needing his attention.
The stairs that were added in 2006, to give a more direct access to the rink from the parking lot, have been barricaded (with locks) for the winter. The sign says "no winter maintenance." Indeed, the staff often missed shovelling the steps after a snowfall. The zamboni fills and drains directly from the compressor room right by the walkway. So people can slip and fall on the ice left there by the frozen water. After all these years, a water line was never added to the zamboni garage that's located at the other side of the rink. It's easier to make people walk the long way around or slide down the steep berm to get into the rink, than to fix the problem of a missing water line.
The incentive to take care of making the rink work better is very slight since the proposed development plans for the Galleria Mall and the park call for the Community Centre and rink to be demolished and relocated at the west side of the property.
Maybe it doesn't much matter if Wallace Rink is malfunctioning. The whole community centre and the rink are planned to be torn down and replaced by the developer who is building a high-rise settlement at the site of the Galleria Mall.
Comment from blogger: They are shoving the community centre to the back of the property. What guarantee do we have that it will be as good as or better than what exists now? And what about all the money the City just spent to renovate the existing Centre? Is the developer is in charge of the design or the City?
The information that you repeat in this email is not quite accurate, as you will see in my earlier e-mail to the councillor. I have re-posted the excerpt at the bottom of this email. I understand that you may not have had a chance to read the original since as citywide manager you are very busy with many other tasks.
I therefore have to persist in my desire to see the log books for both rinks (Dufferin as a standard of comparison). The most time-saving way to do this would be to assign a technical staff person to go through the two books with me -- a task of perhaps an hour per rink, if the books are well-kept.
Your email does not address this request, also contained in my email to the councillor. My repeated attempts to find out -- as a longtime outdoor rink activist and a taxpayer -- what is the case at Wallace have been unsuccessful over several weeks. So I submitted a freedom of information request yesterday. I imagine that having your staff comply with this FOI request, or searching around to find reasons not to fulfil it -- will take longer than 2 hours and involve more people, therefore costing the city more money.
I am prepared to offer two hours of my unpaid time to reading through the log books. Do you agree that it would be a shortcut?
Your source tells you that the trouble showed up on Feb.18, but that's not the case.
On February 14, Wallace looked like this:
At the same time, other parts of the rink were down to cement. Something was clearly very wrong. The high that day was 4 and the low was minus 7. All 48 city outdoor rinks were marked as open.
That warning event was not mentioned in your email. Also, the information your forwarded says the leisure pad was open all of Family Day weekend, but it was not. At 1 p.m.on Family Day Feb.20 there was a sign on the Wallace Rink house door saying it was closed. The compressors did not seems to be running, and the ice was clearly melting. You can see the photo on the cityrinks.ca website, and also at the bottom of this email. Both Campbell Rink and Dufferin Rink were open and filled with skaters at exactly the same time (Campbell had a successful event, lots of skaters).
And yet Wallace Rink has significantly greater compressor power than either of those rinks (200 Hp compared to 150 Hp at Dufferin and 100 Hp at Campbell). Also their cooling equipment is newer than either of them. It's important to find out why the compressors failed BEFORE the watermain problem, and warm temperatures are not a sufficient reason.
Telephone call with Councillor Bailao. She said they would get back to the rink management and see if they can let me see the maintenance log books, also inquire about the discrepancy between their explanations and our account. Said they would get back to me on Monday.
Response from Jutta, March 8, 2017
Thank you for forwarding the staff's clarifications. It was interesting to read the course of events after the watermain problem on Feb.22. However, there are some errors in the timing before then.....
So here are two requests:
1. Could you ask your source to set up a time in the next week when I could study the rink maintenance logs (daily log books kept in all rink compressor rooms) for all three Ward 18 rinks? If your source would like to explain certain entries to me directly, that would be helpful, but if not, I can read them on my own. Please ask this question before the end of this week because, if the staff feel unsure about letting me see the log books less formally, I would like to request them through Freedom of Information on Monday, to get the 28-day FOI process started.
2. Could you ask Ana if we can have a 15-minute phone appointment to talk about Wallace Rink? That rink has been neglected far too often over the years and it's important not to let it happen again.
We called the councillor's office and also sent an email, to let them know that the explanation they got doesn't match with the dates. We also asked why staff posted a notice that's wrong. The councillor's office has sent out another inquiry to management.
There is a poster on the door of the rink, saying that the rink had to close for the season because of the warm weather. But that's nonsense -- something is wrong with the machinery. Staff say the rink has been having trouble above freezing for a while already. We've sent the councillor a letter asking what exactly is wrong.
This rink is now listed as "closed for the season," more than 3 weeks before the time scheduled.
According to the rec supervisor, on Saturday Feb.19, one of the rink's compressors tripped and was no longer running. The rink has since then been listed as "open on the pleasure-skating side, closed on the hockey side." But it wasn't functioning on either side. A pity -- this rink was completely rebuilt in 2006, at considerable cost -- too early for it to falter.
Then today one of the staff was cleaning the stove and noticed the water pressure was low. The custodian came and said they were closing the community centre including the pool because there were no showers and washrooms, on account of a water main break on Dufferin Street. There was soft and bumpy ice in the morning, but skateable. Then around 1 there was a lot of water on the ice, and after that the ice melted quite fast. In the afternoon two staff came to inspect the compressors, and said that "the water main break today caused the compressor to stop working." Shortly after, the rink was listed as closed due to mechanical issues.
But the rink has been working poorly for more than a week already.
Wallace Rink is unskateable today. It's warm and sunny, but both other Ward 18 rinks -- with equipment considerably older than that at Wallace -- are full of skaters.
One part of the ice is completely mushy and elsewhere the ice is so thin that you can see the cement. How can both problems co-exist? Maybe the compressors switched off. There is little communication among city staff, so maybe the tech services people just didn't tell the program staff.
The rink looks clean, the compressors are on, and the leftover rain water on the rinks is freezing at the edges.
This rink was scheduled to stay open until March 20, but it was closed for the season on March 10.
Two of the new 20 pairs of MLSE skates have disappeared, without any record of them even being lent out.
A month after cityrinks sounded the alarm bell about the sorry state of the rental skates, the supervisor has brought in twenty new pairs of skates. He says they're a gift from the NHL Players' Association. On Feb.3 they were spray-painted, and soon they will be sharpened, although how they will be stored is not clear yet.
The odd helmet collection now has a lock on the box, and a sign saying to sign out helmets with staff. However, few staff have been informed of the new locked-box idea, and so it stays unlocked.
At 3 pm it looks like it will rain soon, and there are fewer people at the rink than on a sunny Sunday. It interesting to see that the skate aids seem to have an organizing function on the ice -- people meet and chat over and around them.
The back stairway is muddy and full of trash again. An orphan. Too bad -- it's still much used even when the cement stairs are open, because the back stairs are closer to the parking lot. People must be just used to it, wandering through trash into city facilities. It's not that staff try to keep things clean where they are -- it's just that their turf is strictly delimited (indoors, or just outside the door, but not along the path where people arrive), and there's no overall concept.
1 p.m. The skate room/kitchen are in a tangle. It looks like days of postponed cleaning up. The skate shelves are not in good order, and every bit of counter space in the kitchen area seems to have precariously balanced stuff on it, stacked bowls or papers or extra skates etc.
8.45 p.m. The earlier mess inside the kitchen area has been all cleaned up, the skates are standing straight on the skate shelves. Two staff and some friends are laying out tarot cards at the cafe serving counter, and inside the skate room another staff is lying face down on a change room bench that's been moved inside, with several friends sitting nearby. I ask if there's been an injury but am told, the staff is just "on break." Staff say that the police have been coming by ever since a woman came to the rink a few days back and threatened someone with a hatchet. Now that police are patrolling, say the staff, families are returning to the rink.
The scene looks mellow and sociable -- the problem is, the social group is small, consisting of staff and their friends. The sociability is halfway there -- now it needs to shift its focus to rink users who are not necessarily the staff's friends, and not necessarily youth. Even so, the mood is rather sweet.
New helmets have appeared in the helmet bin. Before there were none, now there are nine, five CSA helmets (but one of them without straps) and four non-CSA helmets. Despite the fact that the last bunch all disappeared, these new helmets are still out in the change room with no lock on the box. The staff is sharpening a size seven figure skate that has a crack right across the ankle, but he says he doesn't want to throw it out because that's the last size seven skate. Some new skates are rumoured to be on the way.
Now that the gate has finally been unlocked, roof work has started at the very corner that was supposed to be a risk. It's going to last a few days, but no problem. That suggests the gate barred the stairs for no reason, all these weeks.
Sometime in the past four days, the cement rink stairs were finally reopened. Excellent. Now let's see if the path to the wooden stairs can be cleaned up and staff can be assigned to clear it when it snows. And the long-overdue of addition of water-heaters to the zamboni garage would solve the problem of people falling on the zamboni leakage where the drivers have to fill up, right beside the rink.
Interestingly, this rink has 21 skate aids (compare: city hall has four). The rink could be an interesting lending depot for rinks that have events and have no skate aids.
It's time to take a look at the Wallace skate lending program.
The city has closed all rinks because of warm weather, but some can't be closed because they have no fence around them, e.g. the pond-shaped pleasure-skating pad at Wallace Rink. At 10.15 pm, three kids are playing shinny hockey on the ice. The ice is solid and smooth.
So skaters have to pick their way around the zamboni, which spills water as it's filled, and the water freezes on top of the walkway, and people fall. Last year the wooden stairway was blocked to prevent people from falling on that icy patch, but this year, with no access to the main stairs, that would mean no access from the parking lot without going all the way around the rink.
BUT: for skaters who make it to the rink, there is some good food, selling cheap, and loaner skates as well:
On this second day of the season, the rink looks considerably better -- good thing, since their compressors have lots of power and all they needed was more water. At 5 pm the lights are not on, although it's getting dark. None of the staff have the key to change the lights-timers, but eventually someone will come along, no doubt.
Last year the wooden stairs were blocked off for being dangerous. This year the wooden stairs are the only way to get to the rink from the parking lot, because the concrete stairs are blocked off. The roof is being replaced above the swimming pool -- yet another attempt to get the pool to function right. That's the third all-season pool closure in the last few years. This building was designed as a very forward-thinking structure in 1983, but nothing has worked out as was hoped.
Rink diaries from other years:
The rink is unravelling further. There have been thefts of money from inside the kitchen/skate room, and perhaps a lot of food is walking away as well, since the staff find the fridge and freezer empty when supplies should have been there. So staff come to cook and find they have no materials to cook with, nor any money to buy more groceries. Many of the staff are so new they don't have a good grasp on how to keep the snack bar working well. And the stove has a feature that makes cooking rather frustrating -- whenever you open the oven door, that turns the oven right off, cancels the timer etc. So then the stove has to be restarted -- every time.
The ice pile has been removed but the staircase is still barriered, so the kids jump over the barrier -- certainly a good chance to slip on the metal and get a big bruise or worse. Staff say that if they salt the walkway every day and sweep it up before the zamboni comes, the ground is not slippery. But permission to do this has not been given.
One of the staff was accidentally hit during an altercation between two skaters. More and more adult skaters are asking for exemptions from the shinny schedule, threatening to go to "the boss" if their wishes are not followed.
The wooden staircase that many people use to get from the parking lot to the rink has been barriered off since last week. Apparently an employee of the city's insurance company was being toured around the facility and she slipped and fell on the walkway that leads to the stairs.
The problem is that the same walkway is where the zamboni stands to fill with water. Unless the zamboni drivers are careful when they plug in the hose to the zamboni pipe, water is spilled and then it freezes onto the walkway. The rink onsite staff have been reporting this problem for years (what's needed is a water line to the zamboni garage, so they can fill where the zamboni lives). Until this year the on-site rink staff have also been constantly chipping the ice to clear the walkway. But the current staff don't include that task in their work list, and so an lumpy mess of ice began to build.
The solution? To barrier off the stairs, with a sign that says "no winter maintenance of the stairs." The new onsite rink staff can sit comfortably inside and chat with their friends, and the rink users can go around the long way, on concrete stairs that are often icy, or even overhung with heavy icycles from the roof.
Holiday Hours: open every day including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day. Closing at 6 on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve.
The ice is fine and lots of people have been coming -- on Friday when there was a day off school, the skaters could hardly move.
It's a warm day -- 14 celsius -- but cloudy. The ice is still so thin that the top layer melted to water, but underneath there's no cement. Even so, most of the skaters have gone to Dufferin Rink, where there's no water since the ice there has been in for over a week. There are five staff at the rink, underemployed.
The rink opened at 9 a.m. but by 10 a.m. there were only 3-4 kids there. None of the city rinks had a sign on them telling when they would open, so it may take a few days for the word to get out.
Mats are not laid out yet but otherwise the rink is ready for ice-making, compressor is on.