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Rink diaries from earlier years:
The rink has been marked as open until yesterday and then it was listed as "snow removal in progress" (with over 25 cm of snow). At 1 p.m. it was again listed as open.
A letter was sent to the city councillor, offering a donation of a complete skate loan collection for this rink.
* people love to borrow skates: newcomers, school classes, kids and youth who grew out of their skates
* we have 110 pairs of skates, 20 hockey sticks, 20 helmets to donate
* this kind of program has been done by city staff for 12 years at Dufferin Rink, 9 years at Wallace and Campbell -- lots of experienced staff, each one teach one
* staff often have time on their hands to lend skates and also to maintain skates
* the city has insurance that can cover this (the city is self-insured under $5 million anyway), but skate lending programs are rarely threatened with a claim if they do responsible skate maintenance.
During a telephone conversation with councillor Holiday, he said that while it's a nice idea to lend skates, yet as regards the West Mall civic rink -- it would be too much of a draw on resources, there's not enough visible demand, therefore the program may not make money, but most importantly, the interest is not there, by staff.
no entries, no letters.
This rink was scheduled to stay open until March 20, but it closed for the season on March 11.
At noon the rink is not listed as closed on the city's rink information website. But the pleasure-skating pad has only cement -- some days ago, the compressor power was taken off there and redirected to the hockey rink. We are told that there were quite a few skaters on the hockey pad earlier, but by now it's a smooth lake, and there are no skaters.
8 p.m.: Temp. 3 degrees, pleasure-skating rink listed as closed, hockey side "re-opened."
The pleasure-skating side has now finally reopened and is in good shape. The city's rink web page says West Mall is closed but it's not -- there are two rink guards comfortably settled in the office and they tell me the rink building will be open until 4 pm. Even after the building doors are locked, the rink will stay accessible. A woman watching her young son and his dad play shinny says she found out the rink was open by calling them. The rink number is not listed -- none are -- but she found the number on Google.
The hockey side was listed as open from 10 a.m.
The rink was closed until 5 p.m. because of the combination show/rain overnight. Then the hockey side reopened.
The rink was closed for Christmas Day, even though the ice was most likely fine. It reopened on Boxing Day.
The rink staff say that West Mall has separate cooling lines and compressors and therefore it can turn of power to the pleasure-skating rink and direct it all to the hockey side. That's what they do in warm weather. They started up the pleasure-skating side but closed it down again when the temperatures got warm.
The pleasure-skating side is once again listed as closed.
As of this morning, the city's outdoor rinks website no longer says that the pleasure-skating side is closed.
As has been usual for the past 3-4 years, the compressor power has been redirected to the hockey side only. Interesting that this rink is the other city rink (in addition to Rennie) with a 200 hp cooling system -- same as Harbourfront's Natrel Rink, open and full of pleasure-skaters. Why can West Mall only open half its rink area?
The front door of the building is locked, also as usual. The rink staff say it's because otherwise people can come in and steal people's belongings. We asked -- "what if you had lockers, would that solve it?" They said yes.
The question we didn't ask was: "why is it more likely that people who come in the front doors would steal than people who come in the unlocked doors from the parking lot?"
It's a culture.
Rink diaries from other years:
The temperature was +1 celsius, so despite the sun, at 1.45 the rink was not bad. There were about 10 youth and kids playing shinny, but the half of them got off. They said it was fun but the ice was pretty soft and you had to be careful not to get your skate caught. There were four people on the pleasure-skating side.
Rink marked "closed" for today, by 3 pm.
On Dec.1, the rink was listed as closed again, but only for that day -- reopened today.
Rink listed as fully open.
Rink listed as reopened but pleasure-skating side only.
At 11 a.m. the city's website lists this rink as "water-covered." Not likely! -- but hopefully the ice is being rebuilt.
At 12.00 noon, this rink has no ice and the compressors are turned off. The rink was listed as operational on the city's website on Nov.22. Now there's an "inclement weather" sign on the front gate but no other hint about what has happened since the warm weather the day before. At this point it's 1 celsius. The weather is the same downtown, and there are four rinks open there: Ramsden, Dufferin, Cedarvale, and Greenwood. Rink management in the west must have turned off the compressors the day before: but why?
Same-day response from Councillor Leon:
10 a.m. Two skaters on the hockey rink, none on the pleasure side. The entry gate from the parking lot is open. There are no rink-schedule signs along this walkway nor by the doors. Inside there is only a little paper citywide schedule tacked up on the bulletin board, with West Mall outlined in ball point.
On the other side of the rink, a broad walkway leads from the bus stop on The West Mall right to the actual front doors, but as usual, those doors are locked. Ironically, the only metal rink-schedule sign is fastened to the right of those locked doors. So people can read the sign, but in order to get to the rink, anyone coming by bus has to take a long detour over the grass, around to the parking lot and go in from there. What is the message here? "If you don't have a car, we don't want you"?
At 1.30 pm both rinks were open and looking good. There were two shinny players on the hockey side and one on the pleasure-skating side. The boards on the hockey said no longer show the MLSE or Home Depot logos, for the first year. There is still a frayed Home Depot/Toronto Maple Leafs sign on the outside of the change room.
The zamboni driver told me I couldn't take pictures, not even if a skater gives me permission, not even if there is no person in the photo. One really has to wonder where these folks get their ideas. There are often new staff. From their first minute at the rink they have their own approach -- and they have absolutely no doubt that they are right and have the authority.
Word has come down that the pleasure-skating side is now open too. Only four days late.
The city had listed West Mall as closed on opening day by 10am this morning. The reason: still building ice. The gates were open so we walked right in. The ice was mostly solid but not thick. There was slush on the east side. There was some sign of an attempt to cool the tennis court leisure skating pad. Like last year, they started flooding too late (Wednesday) and like every year, they accuse the leisure pad for taking away power from the hockey pad. So they shut it down. At West Mall, if you don't have a shinny permit or know how to play hockey, you'll have to celebrate rink opening a week after your friends. Rink staff also blamed the weather and people who tell them what to do.
They hoped to get to zamboni on later in the afternoon to flood and reopen the hockey side by the evening.
10pm - Both the hockey and pleasure sides had compressor power directed to them. In past years, West Mall has shut down power to the leisure pad, thinking it will redirect more of the compressors 200hp to the one hockey pad. It looks like the pads had been washed down, with rime building up over night.
11pm. There was ice at Westmall. Rink staff said that they had started flooding last night and were on 6pm-2am shifts. They said they were going to be aiming to lay 5 or 6 hand floods tonight.
The drivers worried about the high of 15 degrees forecast for tomorrow - And with only two days of ice building and no over night staff, it true that the ice might not hold up well. They said an easy solution to ensuring that at least the permits would have ice, was to turn off compressor power to the leisure pad.
The rink wasn't open, but the gate was ajar, and two boys were standing by the boards talking to the rink operator. He said that they were still trying to build ice, but were hoping they might be able to open this evening or tomorrow. It was still pretty easy to see the cement. The operator said they had not done overnight floods but that yesterday they put down nine floods from late afternoon until 11 pm. He said they hadn't started until Wednesday, "but we can't come in earlier than they schedule us to come in."
I wish I could show them our 6-minute video. How good the ice is depends on the amount of water you put down during the dark hours....
Later on a foreperson told me that there's no heat at West Mall because the external connections were vandalized -- and no hot water for the zamboni either.
In fact, Westmall didn't get to open on opening day. Nor the day after . By comparison, Dufferin Rink (which had over night flooding) was open on Nov 24th for the morning, and then again, in the evening.
The rink was posted on the city website as opened on the hockey side only.
Westmall rink reopens both pads
No sign of any flooding, not even mats out. Supposed to open tomorrow but obviously decided not to.
Compressors were on and have been since Sunday according to a staff guy who arrived as I was leaving. They've got half an inch of ice down and it looks good. They want another quarter inch/10 more floods (he says) on top before they open -- hopefully tomorrow. Mats are out already, but the rink area is fenced off and the change rooms are closed.
There seems to have been some back-sliding here. There's definitely no night flooding. Lots of frost on the hockey pad, but some of the rink looks pretty close to concrete -- so they'll probably lose it tomorrow when the weather gets warmer and the sun comes out. No lights and no ice on the pleasure-skating pad. Some mats were out.
Staff said there will likely be no ice till next week. For comparison: Dufferin Rink
Morning: Pleasure-skating pad and hockey pad both open, ice looks very good, but the only skaters were 3 staff going round the pleasure pad! The change rooms were open if you went around the back but the front doors are locked and still have old signs on them saying the rink will not be open on 19 and 20 November.
A woman was leaving with her daughter and said that her kid had been playing on the hockey side earlier.
From rink user Eric HM, 7 pm: Ice was in very good shape, other than being a bit rough in one corner right against the boards (needs some edge work). One of the permits cancelled for tonight at around 7pm so we got to skate for a bit, but I think the hockey pad is almost 100% reserved on weekends. There were 5 teenagers and one younger kid.
From rink user David Purcell: The ice is in great shape with the exception of slight unevenness along the south east half boards. The attendant seems to be cleaning the ice more often than last year.
Two parks staff were cleaning around the rink. They said that the final decision (about keeping the rinks closed the extra week) would be coming later today. They must have spent a lot of time cleaning the ice surface -- it was fresh washed without a leaf on it.