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Rink Diary (October, November and December) 2008

October 5, 2008

Soon after the ice melted in early March, the very popular BMX bike course was set up again on the rink. At the end of March, two of the wooden platforms caught fire and burned fairly dramatically. The cause of the fire -- accident or arson -- was never determined.

BMX track before the fire, March 25, 2008

Fire damage to Wallace BMX track, March 29, 2008

Fire damage to Wallace BMX track, March 29, 2008

Crime Stoppers Cheque-giving ceremony at
Wallace-Emerson April 10, 2008

Parks staff called in the CIMCO rink company to test the brine pressure in the PVC pipes under the cement, to see if the heat of the flames might have damaged the pipes. They found low pressure, but as far as we know, no follow-up was done until September. The reason no follow up was done was apparently the presence of the platforms, although they certainly did not cover the whole rink surface.

During summer, the BMX users noticed that one of the concrete platforms that covers the centre trench between the two ice pads was partly lifted up. It stayed that way all summer. Some BMX users said they saw raccoons going in and out of the trench. In late summer when the youth looked in there, they saw a gash in a silver metal pipe, and some liquid leaking out.

In late September it appears that CIMCO came to look at the pipe. Also they apparently checked the brine fluid pressure again and found it was too low for both rinks. Now the concrete platforms near the damaged pipe have been been removed and stacked, and a small barrier has been put up.

Rink repair 2008-2009

Sunday October 5 2008

The fire was at the left side of the rink in this photo

The broken pipe is far from where the fire was

The narrow cement slab was overtop of the pipe

The kids are disappointed that the bike platforms are leaving already

Thursday October 9 2008

Report from CELOS rink visitor: "It's a beautiful day, and no one was there. The skateboard dude said no one has been there all week."

Same scene as last weekend

Still the gash in the pipe

Friday October 10 2008

Report from CELOS rink visitor: "Nothing has budged. The whole rink looks so sad. It appears that no litter has been picked up there all summer, and because the place is so popular with youth, there's plenty of litter lying around."

Wednesday Oct.15 2008

No progress. When a CELOS rink visitor went to the park at 7:30pm, there was no sign that anyone had looked at the pipes since the last visit.

Friday Oct.17 2008

CELOS rink visitor: "I asked a couple of boys on bikes if they saw anyone working today. They said no. They said they haven't seen workers in a long time."

Thursday October 23 2008

CELOS researcher: "When I went there today I saw that the cement covers had been put back on, although there are small pieces of blue wood or plastic underneath, maybe to allow easier access if they have to lift them again?"

Chris Gallop from Councillor Giambrone's office called to say he had spoken to Parks manager Kevin Bowser, who told him that Wallace Rink is fine now, and will be ready to open on Dec.6. No more details available.

Sunday October 27 2008

BMX ramps and wooden frames south of the community centre

BMX ramps and wooden frames

Monday October 28 2008

Chris Gallop wrote this e-mail: "I'm told that at first there was an estimated 200 litres of missing fluid from the pipes (Glycol I think they said?) and an assumption was made that there might have been a leak in the system. However, that quantity of fluid has since been found hiding in the compressor. Technical Services staff have been putting the system through its warm up checklist and at this point everything appears to be working fine and the rink should be able to open on schedule. However, if any new developments surface, staff have promised to notify our office immediately and we will keep the community informed."

So the whole scare, raised by Parks staff, may have been a totally false alarm. The bike kids are mad, and worried. They feel that Parks is looking for excuses to get rid of the BMX course.

Saturday November 1 2008

Report from the CELOS rink visitor: The wooden frames for the BMX ramps are still there, but they are neatly stacked.

Stacked wooden frames next to the rink pleasure pad

This path goes east to Dufferin St.

Friday Dec.5 2008

The rink is ready to go for tomorrow, but when the last hose flood was finished today, some kind rink worker forgot to lock the gate. By 4 pm this had been discovered. By 6pm the rink had about 20 shinny players.

the shinny hockey rink

the pleasure-skating "pond" rink

This area has so many Portuguese kids, and the Portuguese love hockey. In Portugal, it's roller hockey, of course, and there are European championships and roller hockey stars. But here it's real ice hockey, and kids come out in rain or in bitter cold, and play for hours, sometimes all day. That's why the recreation staff make sure there are snacks.

Saturday Dec.6 2008

The ice is a bit rough in places (looks like only one flood with a zamboni), and thin, but there's no cement. It's full of kids. As usual the nailed-up players' boxes is where all the kids prefer to sit -- it's tricky because their legs are all dangling and kids run into them during the shinny games.

full of shinny hockey players

players' boxes

a New York trash look

The approach to the rink from the parking lot is very trashy, same as last year, and there trash has blown up against the chain link fence and got stuck there. It's hard to tell when it was last picked up.

Sunday Dec.7, 2008

It was cold today, so there were not as many skaters. Also it snowed last evening, and no plough or zamboni came until mid-afternoon. Staff and skaters managed to clear off most of the pleasure-skating side with the single rink shovel, but the hockey side took much longer and staff still weren't finished by the time the zamboni came. One rink user was very upset that staff wouldn't allow hockey on the pleasure-skating side.

When the flying squad finally got there, they made all the skaters clear both rinks and go inside the rink house for half an hour. This was apparently because the zamboni had to cross the pleasure-skating pad several times to get to the water source, when it was clearing off the hockey ice (all that snow was gumming up the zamboni augur, so it needed more water than usual). The zamboni staff didn't want to be held up by waiting for another 5 minutes, for the rink staff to clear the pleasure-skating ice, each time the zamboni had to go for more water. So the skaters were held up for half an hour instead.

The back story is that the rink renovation of two years ago was not designed with ice maintenance in mind. So there is no zamboni garage, no natural gas outlet, and no ready water access. Sad and a bit unbelievable, but true.

Dec.7 2008: A letter from Deirdre Norman of the Women of Winter Tournament, to City Councillor Adam Giambrone:

Adam, Last year arrangements were made for a zamboni tent to be purchased by the community based The Women of Winter to ensure good ice for Wallace-Emerson Rink. Something that is sorely needed for the avid skating community. In discussion with Kevin Bowser and Brian Green we were told that a zamboni would be on site this season. I have attached the photo of you and I announcing the zamboni tent for Wallace-Emerson Rink, just in case you forgot about it. I have also included the emails that went back and forth starting nearly two years ago. We have raised the money ($1,000.00 community dollars) and it sits waiting to be spent on a zamboni tent for Wallace. I appreciate that community members such as myself may not have a complete understanding of what is required to run the rinks but I do know that when the community steps forward to support Parks and Rec to have very clear gaps in ice maintenance filled, it is incumbent on the participating groups to do their part. I understand that rink staff has changed but this should not impact on the agreement that was made nor on the implementation of the agreement. We should be improving our ice maintenance with increased service not lessening what was there last year. As always I am only interested in supporting Parks and Rec and the local community rinks so would love to hear why ice maintenance is not a high priority during our fabulous Toronto winter. Thank you and keep your stick on the ice,

From the rink staff coordinator, Dec.7 2008:

Today there was an angry man who only wanted to yell at me and not talk or even have my contact info. He first came and yelled that all over the city no one can play shinny at that moment. This was at a time when we had heard that the flying squad had left Campbell and was on its way over to Wallace so we cleared snow from the sides of the boards (where I think hockey players put it last night) in prep for zamboni, and cleared the rink of rowdy hockey players with millions of pucks. Then it was empty for... 20 minutes or so, even though the flying squad only had to drive four blocks, and I didn't let people play shinny hockey on the pleasure side, and the man yelled. Then he came back and took pictures of the hockey pad and of me and another staff and grumbled.

Dec.8 2008

Wallace got only one ice resurfacing the whole day.

Dec.9 2008

e-mail from Mark Stafford: Local Shinny game (permit) looking for players

Looking for Hockey Players - (outdoors) regular Monday night 8pm permit game at Wallace-Emmerson (dufferin/dupont) ice rink.

Level - Male or Female - beginner/immediate to intermediate, friendly fun rather than serious competitive

When - starting in January

Cost - depends on # of participants & cost of permit - $10 per game range looking for a commitment for the season of 8 to 10 games

We have 9 people, needing roughly 5 more

call stephen 416-535-3512 or email [email protected] Ice maintenance: once only

December 10 2008

Ice maintenance: rink closed

December 11 2008

Ice maintenance: hosing to fix the ice

Friday Dec.12 2008

the game starts again

After being closed for three days, the hockey side was open again. Apparently the compressors turned off earlier in the week, for reasons no one has explained, and the ice lost patches all over the surface. Today at 1.30 pm the rink had a good game again and the skaters said the ice was all right.

The mall snow clearance vehicles have piled some snow right onto the entrance of the walkway from the mall parking to the rink, blocking it. The rink shinny players always park their cars in the mall lot, and maybe it's payback time.

Ice maintenance: once only

Saturday December 13 2008

Ice maintenance: once only

Sunday December 14 2008

Ice maintenance: once only

Monday December 15 2008, e-mails from Wallace Rink user John Ainslie to

I played on this rink last season all the time and loved it.

So far this year the ice has been terrible. I just have a question about if we'll be getting the zamboni back ever this season or will the zamboni clean the ice in the mornings ever?

In any case I love the rink, but I'm curious. Also, is there anyone at city hall I could complain to?

There were about 20 or 25 of us on the bad ice Saturday morning and people were falling in the grooves. Bad ice is not only not fun, but can be dangerous. Last year we had the zamboni at 9AM then again and 3 and after that at 7 which was great. Now we only get it at 3, so open shinny is always played on awful ice.

December 15 2008, response from to rink user John Ainslie:

Short answer of why the ice maintenance is so bad: new management, and maybe a general lack of a plan. I just sent the first "Zanetti report" downtown last Wednesday. The second will come out this Friday. Your complaint will be in it, along with others. If you have time to have a quick read through the first Zanetti report and the cover letter (attached here), you might find them pertinent.

The biggest, best thing you can do is send your feedback to the upper management. Send what you wrote below to: 1. Paul Ronan, Director of Park, in charge of all parks-related matters including outdoor rink maintenance) and 2. Brenda Patterson, General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation -- the main boss) 3. Councillor Adam Giambrone -- it's good to keep the councillor informed about problems like this

If you cc they might hit 'reply all' when they respond, or if not, please forward a copy of any answer you get. Even if they send you excuses (e.g. the zambonis are all broken down, or compressors are down, or the sky is falling), your complaint will tend to raise Wallace a little higher on the radar.

And if you can persuade even two other skaters to e-mail the same people when they are fed up with the bad ice, it will be considered a landslide of requests for better ice.

Ice maintenance: once only

December 16 2008

Ice maintenance: once only

Wednesday Dec.17 2008

It snowed overnight, so the rink had too much snow to allow skating. Since a large school group was planning to come, program staff contacted the maintenance supervisor to ask if the rink would be ready for the school grounp. He said they had to do their "majors" first, i.e. Ramsden, Harry Gairey, and Dufferin. This is an Etobicoke distinction, where all rinks except one are single pads. Those pads that have boards and larger rink houses are called "major" rinks and have their own ice maintenance staff. Mysteriously, the rink supervisor, who worked in Etobicoke until a few years ago, seems to have categorized Wallace Rink as a "minor" rink.

No ice maintenance had been done by the time the school arrived (program staff did not have the school's phone number and were all so busy shoveling snow off paths and access areas that they didn't manage to call the school class).

The teacher wrote:

I wanted to let you know about how today's skate at Wallace went. We arrived at 1 pm (not 12:45) and saw that the ice had not been cleared. At 1:05, I got a call from my school on my cell that Wallace had called to tell us about the delay in the zamboni arrival (supposed to come at 12:00). Obviously, this was a disappointment to the kids and teachers and parents.....The man at the rink was trying to shovel, to his credit, and was very pleasant under difficult circumstances (he was alone). We decided to stay and the kids and parents got busy shoveling enough space for some skating.....In any case, we had an okay time overall, but it was not the smooth experience we had last year. I was hoping to bring a group again in the New Year, but I am hesitant. Would it better to try and book at Dufferin Grove?

a "minor" rink?

The rink was plowed at 3.30 pm, not resurfaced until 7.30 pm. By 8 pm there were 20 shinny players, 17 pleasure skaters, and 17 more kids inside, trying on loaner skates, playing chess, or eating mini-pizzas.

Thursday December 18 2008

E-mail from to general manager Brenda Patterson: Apparently Wallace Rink is considered a "minor" rink and it was not cleared for skating until 7.30 pm. last night.

Wallace Rink is a double pad rink that was rebuilt two years ago at a cost of $1.1 million. It has a skate-lending service, extensive daytime school visits, and weekly family programs, as well as being a very intensively-used youth shimmy hockey destination. It is not "minor." 48 schoolchildren tried to push the snow off the rinks at 1 pm, but this didn't fix the lack of maintenance.

Etobicoke-district rinks only a short distance away opened between 10.30a.m. and 1 pm. after the snow.

Remarkable excerpt from General Manager Brenda Patterson's response (same day):

We are constantly reviewing and revising our protocols and procedures to ensure the continuous improvement of operations and service to all residents. The start-up this season has gone very well, with only a few minor disruptions.....Staff is pleased with the availability and assignment of equipment and believes it is more than sufficient to support the needs program across the city.

Ice maintenance: 2 pm and 6 pm.

Friday December 19, 2008

All rinks are closed due to a big snowstorm. Recreation rink program staff got a head start by shoveling out the access paths for tomorrow, in two shifts, day and evening. Ice maintenance staff seem to have discontinued work in the morning (on full pay for the day).

Saturday December 20 2008

The plowtruck and zamboni came once only, a bit after 1 pm, got the rink done much earlier than on Wednesday, even though there was much more snow.

Sunday December 21 2008

Two plow trucks came at noon and the zamboni and an extra labourer in another truck came at 12.30, worked on the rink but were not all done when they had to leave because their shift was near the end and they had to get back to the service yard. No more ice maintenance after that, but people were still able to skate.

snowy rink

staff shovelling

Monday December 22

Ice maintenance: once only

Tuesday December 23:

Ice maintenance: 12 noon and 6.20

Wednesday December 24:

Ice maintenance: unknown

Thursday December 25:

No ice maintenance for Christmas Day.

Friday December 26:

Ice maintenance: once only

Saturday December 27 2008

Ice maintenance: none

Sunday December 28 2008

Wallace Rink got a maintenance visit for resurfacing at 10.30 a.m., then nothing more all day. There was a lot of snow on the ice from all-day shinny hockey and pleasure-skating, and the rink program staff called the pager for the ice maintenance forepersons and the supervisor, to ask for resurfacing -- no answer anywhere.

Such poor service is regrettable, since the programs are so popular. The skate loans are almost continuous since the new donation by the NHL Players' Association, newcomer skaters are coming all the time, families that stopped coming during the bad old times are returning. Rink staff say they are still getting comments of pleased surprise about the rebuilt, bright rink change rooms.

But none of it works if there is no maintenance. This is one of the city;s main pads, but it has no zamboni and highly unreliable flying squad ice maintenance. The "Women of Winter" hockey group collected $400 toward a zamboni tent but the City Councillor has not responded to their query about when the tent (similar to the High Park and City Hall zamboni tents) will be installed.

Wednesday December 29 2008

Ice maintenance: unknown

Tuesday December 30 2008

Ice maintenance at 11 am and 8 pm.

Wednesday December 31 2008

Ice maintenance: 9.30 a.m. 3 pm.

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Content last modified on January 24, 2011, at 03:23 PM EST