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posted October 24, 2007

Minutes of October 17 rink meeting with outdoor rink manager Kevin Bowser

Ryan O’Neil (Jimmie Simpson Rink): wants to discuss the rink schedule. '''Supports an earlier rink season (starting November ending before March break). This will accomplish the goal of more ice time, which should be our goal in general.

Constanza Allevato (recreation manager): explains that at Lastman Square (North York Civic Centre), they had dedicated workers to the rink. Yet they found it difficult to open as early as they were meant to and found the ice kept well into the '''March break.

Ryan O’Neil: rain in November is not so much of a problem because of the process of building up ice. At Jimmie Simpson the rink suffers greatly from sunlight which hits the north side boards in February/March and causes 5 meters of slush.

Garfield Mahood (Ramsden Rink): he generally agrees with the report’s suggestion of earlier rink season. Ice can be produced early in the season. Asks for flexibility for March weather to keep the rink open as long as weather allows.

Kevin Bowser (outdoor rinks manager): has not heard many requests for earlier rink openings.

Garfield Mahood: has been requesting earlier rink openings.

Kevin Bowser: there has been a communication problem, request was not forwarded to me. I get many calls for March Break. A longer season would mean more money and more money is a problem. We have to stick to 12 week season. To consider a change would have to address a 2 year budget because money assigned for March 2008 would have had to have been moved back to November 2007.

Jutta Mason (CELOS): can Kevin Bowser can respond to the request for flexibility in rink scheduling. What are the barriers to flexibility? Layoffs for permanent staff or temporary staff?

Kevin Bowser: we are working toward more permanent staff on rinks, fewer temporary (recall) staff. There are 49 temporary staff (recall) and 30-40 FT staff city wide. In Etobicoke the BA’s (building attendants) are Local 416.

Dave Bidini (Dufferin Rink): Kevin and Parks should err on the side of early rather than late because of the general pattern of sun and ice thickness and cold.

Deirdre Norman (Wallace Rink, Women of Winter Shinny Hockey convener): What are criteria of making these decisions on which rinks are to be opened first?

Kevin Bowser: we look at staff, whether they have good staff or not, the refrigeration equipment or plant, whether double or single pad, popularity, etc.

Jutta Mason: brought up the issue of harmonization, which means the city seems to try to open most rinks on same day. This year that day is December 8th. Opening so many on the same day is difficult.

Tim Flood: (Rennie Rink) Swansea has been trying to get opened early and to find out budget info for years and years.

Kevin Bowser: there are difficulties opening some rinks. Getting the plants open is difficult. You walk into a building that has been unattended for months and the compressors may be broken or need maintenance etc. No one is opposed to staggering rink opening. We need a larger community consultation though to move the season from Dec to March to November to the end of February. Now we have a rink committee, we are the leads on the Rink program, Brian Green and now Mark Hawkins (replacing Scott Atwood) and we are trying to harmonize across the city.

Sally Bliss (Monarch, Greenwood): at Greenwood I try to bring my school classes to use the rink for Phys-ed we check the Fun Guide, which gives the number for Matty Eckler community centre. At Matty Eckler we tell staff we are bringing a school group. Then we arrive at Greenwood and the rink is closed or the ice is bad. Also the schedule changes and no one is informed and the Fun Guide becomes inaccurate. I end up calling over to Dufferin Rink where they tell me whether Greenwood is open.

Rodney Litigio (High Park Rink): we don’t want a system that pits neighbourhood against neighbourhood but what is the framework within which you, Kevin Bowser, make decisions?

Kevin Bowser: we decide based on tradition and changes, whether staff are good or not, and equipment available.

Jane Price (chair): How do you measure the needs of the community? Do you count phone calls? Your measurement techniques are releavant to us.

Peter Thillaye (CELOS): Yes indeed, very important.

Kevin Bowser: the question is how we measure and make decisions? Why should we raise funds and for what? The Minor hockey program at Swansea works well but maybe it is not for every rink. And as times change and cultures change in the city more people want cricket or soccer, there has been a huge increase in soccer requests why should we back rinks?

Anna Galati (Dufferin Rink): cultures may be changing but shinny hockey has an accessible side for groups of all socio economic backgrounds. As our cities’ cores become more and more like ‘inner cites’ and the schools suffer we need accessible sports. First generations of kids are growing up without hockey equipment but the can play shinny and they can play at Dufferin. Most importantly they want to play, they really want to play. Most important for everyone to have sports that say to kids “I belong” or “I am participating in Canadian hockey”.

Sally Bliss: One hundred percent of my students are new Canadians. They love skating although some aren’t good at it.

Anna Galati: Neighbourhoods are different from each other but everyone wants to participate in this. Kids want to join and when they are bad at skating they just hobble happily until they are better at it. Also rink houses like Dufferin provide a home for kids after school.

Anna Bekerman (Dufferin Rink): There is a miscommunication here, our report mentions Dufferin because it is an unusual case and we know it well. We do not want other rinks to be like Dufferin at all. The rink report has many many rinks with many problems listed. We listed key things that need to be changed.

Deidre Norman: People like their local rinks and want Zambonis at them and Zamboni tents.

Kevin Bowser: what we need is a clear partnership model. The city operates on volunteerism. Volunteers also link with the city.

Jutta Mason: What is your operating budget?

Kevin Bowser: 160,000 was the savings not the operational cost. Rinks cost more than 160,000. Direct operating costs, benefits, permits, overhead, fleet services, and publicity. Rinks are underfunded as part of the re-org we hope to get them in better financial shape. Early in the new year we expect to know the actual budget. Staff have been trying to know the utility costs for 7 months.

Brian Green: December and March the biggest costs are electricity.

Belinda Cole: how can you say no money for skating when you don’t know how much more money you would need for skating?

Garfield Mahood: There must be a way of knowing the costs. What are the extra costs of rinks opening per week? You should be able to find out how much it costs!

Jutta Mason: Don Boyle told me in 1992 that he would know and tell me in 6 months, still waiting.

Kevin Bowser: Operating costs are subdivided so I have to talk with the manager of fleet services, recreation, tech services, etc etc. .In Etobicoke and NY we have resurfacing equipment at every rink but not great equipment. We are trying to improve ice quality. The Etobicoke structure is changing. Schombergs are not as good as zambonis are, they are too slow, and they could take an hour to do the ice. This is the kind of thing we talk about in our rink committee meeting.

Brian Green: Etobicoke model has a problem. It has a Champion, which take 4 to 5 times the time to clean the ice. We have 19 outdoor rinks and in the south we have 12 zambonis for 23 rinks. The natural gas fuelling system installation costs 15,000 dollars.

Jane Price: Branches operate as silos and cause a lack of communication

Belinda Cole: in a community as a community member I don’t care who is responsible for fleet services and whether or not you know their phone number. I want to talk to one person, locally and have a problem addressed.

Heather O’Meara: where are the neighbourhood teams anyways? I am in priority neighbourhood, my team is supposed to exist but where is it?

Constanza Allevato: they are organized by the Social development, Finance and Administration Division. Parks, Forestry and recreation is a participant in the neighbourhood teams. Teams operate differently, for example at Kingston/Galloway the community is represented on the neighbourhood team. At Lawrence Heights, the neighbourhood team consists of city services only. As for silos – you call it silos, but in our view we operate in a functional model. We have six branches within the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division. Every model has its pros and cons. Within the functional model you know who to go to for Parks issues, or for Recreation issues, for example.

Kevin Bowser: and eventually communities will take the lead.

Rodney Litigio: there is no clear model, that is clear. I have a friend who works in the Ministry of Health and every year they would up the budget line by x percent they have no idea what is needed.

Kevin Bowser: we are still operating as a response to amalgamation 7 years ago, we are 7 municipalities still.

Jutta Mason: the rink committee should be more open and have non-staff, community involvement on committee.

Jane Price: I say this not as the chair but, clearly there are silos because of how Kevin Bowser described his inability to get budget numbers, having to call 14 managers in different areas to know what something costs. And there are at least two rink committees none representing the community.

Jane Price: we must press on through agenda to quick fix items:


Lea Ambros explains why phones are needed.

Rec and Parks (Constanza and Kevin) will follow up.


Rec (Constanza) will follow up.


Ryan O’Neil suggests turning door mats upside down.

Rec and Parks (Constanza and Kevin) will follow up and the 416 staff will do the work.


Parks (Kevin) will follow up.


Constanza Allevato: we in recreation will provide the content.

Ryan O’Neil: shovelling instructions at rinks would be great in the signage.

Gar Mahood: if I complain about the lack of keys then suddenly the shovels themselves are lost. no one has keys to the shovels. The shovels disappear when you ask for them. I have never heard such interesting arguments regarding liability and shovels. Apparently there are lots of shovels but we never get them. We need keys for shovels too.

Tino De Castro: we can look into accessing the signs, but suggests that the whole sign should be removed if there is no possible key.

Lea Ambros: also signage for staff rooms.

Kevin Bowser: we will organize maintenance schedules locally.


Mark Hawkins and Brian Green’s responsiblity.

Belinda Cole: how often does this committee meet? Once a month or within the next couple of weeks?

Janet Morassutti: Where and when will we find out the costs?

Kevin Bowser: this will be reported next year.

Peter Thillaye: how many silos are in this building?

Constanza Allevato: we are doing a cost recovery study looking at indirect and direct costs.

Anna Galati: I want a follow up date.

Kevin Bowser: A follow up date to go through the report and look at CELOS during the week of Oct 28 will suit me.

Meeting adjourned by Jane Price.

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Content last modified on October 24, 2007, at 09:18 PM EST