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News 2009-2010

News 2009-2010

From the February2010 Newsletter:


Click on poster to enlarge it.

Saturday February 13, 7 to 10 pm: Icycle: the ninth annual bikes-on-ice race.

This event was also under threat, as was every winter event this year. Although Icycle was already listed in the city’s own Bike Month calendar, Parks and Recreation required the volunteer organizer (park friend Derek Chadbourne, who runs the Bike Joint repair shop at Harbord and Manning) to buy his own insurance for $350. Of note: there has been only one injury, non-serious, in all those years – bike couriers ride on snow and ice for a living, and they’re careful.

The city also required $380 as a permit fee, for the city’s extra staff, although no extra staff are needed. But the City’s bicycle transportation office arranged to pay that fee itself – inter-office transfer payments! Derek writes: “For more information, or to register, contact Puffy the Penguin at icycle2010@gmail.com or call 416-532-6392.”

Friday and Saturday February 5 and 6 (championship game at 6 pm): The Women of Winter Fifth Annual Shinny Hockey Tourney.

Convener Deirdre Norman puts together six teams composed of women from all over the city. This year Deirdre was told that she would have to pay for the permit and buy her own insurance, although she does all the organizing as a volunteer (and long-time crusader for women’s open shinny times at outdoor rinks). After many meetings and e-mails from shinny players, and an intervention by City Councillor Adam Giambrone, the tourney was allowed to be a partnership with recreation – but just this year.

Monday February 15: Family Day Holiday

Most outdoor rinks are on reduced change room hours on that day (9am to 5 pm), with the exception of the following five double-pad rinks: Greenwood, Hodgson, Dufferin, Wallace, and Rennie rinks, which will be open from 9am until 9pm. Those exceptions came after park friend Jane LowBeer offered to donate enough funds to cover the cost of some rinks staying open for normal hours on Family Day (about $70 per rink). The City doesn’t want the donation but they did extend the hours for five rinks.

From the December 2009 Newsletter:

HOLIDAY HOURS

The unofficial word is that most outdoor rinks will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day – NOT a good plan. Lots of people like to come outside and have a skate on the big holidays. On Christmas Day, after the presents are opened, the kids get to try out their new skates or hockey gear, if any, and later the grownups get to take a break from eating. On Boxing Day people get to have some outdoor fun with relatives who might be visiting, and take a break from shopping. On New Year’s Day, it’s “the first day of the rest of my life,” and lots of people want to skate off the parties with some fresh air and exercise. But the City can’t afford the cost of holiday ice maintenance (the zamboni drivers earn triple time-and-a-half plus 26% benefits). The solution may be to have the rinks staffed only by the low-paid part-time rink program staff, have a few roving zamboni staff to do one ice resurfacing per rink, and do the rest with shovels and skaters. Dufferin Rink will be open one way or the other But the other city rinks….?

The rink is open seven days a week, and that includes the holidays. The rink clubhouse will close at 5 pm on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, the hours are 10 am to 6 pm. Boxing Day is normal hours. On New Year’s Eve the rink clubhouse stays open until midnight, and on New Year’s Day the hours are normal (9 am to 9 pm).

RINK LITERACY

Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled rinks than any city in the world – 49, with one more to come in January (the new skating oval at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke). But our civic knowledge of the physics of ice maintenance hasn’t kept pace with our collective rink wealth. At Dufferin Rink, after the scheduled City ice maintenance was augmented by 8 late-night volunteer hose-floods, the rink opened for the season on November 22. The ice has been good ever since. Many people seem to find this amazing, even shocking, since the air temperature has been warmer than usual, as high as 11.

What’s the surprise? Collectively, as taxpayers, we spend about $500 a day at Dufferin Rink to fuel the compressors that cool the rink pad. The rink has two compressors of 75 horsepower each – you can hear their noise through the compressor-room doors at the side of the building. These compressors push a brine (salt water) solution through a big tank of cooling ammonia, and then out into the extensive grid of PVC pipes underneath the concrete floor of the rink. This cold liquid brings the entire big concrete slab to well below freezing, so any water that’s put on the rink pads sets up as ice right away. The brine liquid circulates back into a large pipe in the “header trench” right next to the building, underneath where everybody stands when the zamboni is doing ice maintenance. From there the brine gets pushed back into the compressor room, where it passes through the freezing-cold ammonia tank, and out again into the pipes under the concrete, and so on.

The only serious match for this powerful cooling system is the sun, and in the months around the December 21 winter solstice, the sun is very weak. It doesn’t get to spend very much time above the horizon, and that suits the compressors just fine.

The sun begins to gain real power toward the end of February, which is why, on a sunny day on, let’s say, February 25, when the air temperature is minus 8, the ice gets really mushy near the reflective boards, and even a bit soft in the middle. The compressors are losing ground as the sun prepares to bring on spring and summer. But on a low-sun Monday, November 23, at 11 degrees, a thin film of water forms on top of solid ice, and the shinny hockey and pleasure-skating at Dufferin Rink are brilliant.

It’s not only rink users whose rink literacy is in some need of upgrading. The city’s rink staff are also confused. In our travels around the other 48 city rinks, we have often heard zamboni drivers say that they can’t make ice because the temperature is above zero. The city’s Park management blames a multitude of ice-making sins on the temperature, global warming, etc. Convenient – but most of the time, not true. The compressor-cooled rinks can do their job, and having all those rinks can take some of the sting out of the dark months of winter for Torontontians.

GENERAL RINK INFORMATION

Rink clubhouse: open seven days a week, Monday to Sunday: 9:00am - 9:00pm
Zamboni Café : Monday-Sunday 10:00am - 8:30pm
Skate rental ($2.00): Monday to Sunday 9 am to 8 pm

Shinny hockey: same hours as the rink clubhouse except Sundays. There is a (strictly enforced) age schedule. From rink staff: “If you ever see the wrong age group on the shinny ice, do us a favour and notify the rink staff right away.”

Pleasure-skating: always freely available. After 9:00pm, skating is unsupervised. Then it's a bit like skating on a pond: it’s mostly shinny hockey, and people are responsible for their own use of the rink.

Beginners’ free registered shinny hockey, Wednesday Nights From 10 to 11 P.M.
Each session consists of a warm up, drills and exercises to improve your skills and a fun scrimmage. This program is for those who are new to skating. To register, e-mail Dan Watson at outdoor.shinny@gmail.com.

Beginners’ free drop-in shinny hockey, Sunday nights From 9:30 to 11 P.M.
Each session consists of warm up, quick lesson and an organized game for beginners. Space is limited each night to 30 players, and is on a first come first serve basis. More information: outdoor.shinny@gmail.com or 416 392-0913. Ask for Dan Watson.

The large rink lights turn off after 11:00pm, and then the rink is locked.

Parking: One good place to park is at Dufferin Mall across the street. After 5 pm. there’s lots of parking across from St.Mary’s School at the north end of the park too.

Rink contacts: 416 392-0913 or staff@dufferinpark.ca. The rink phone message will tell you the current ice skating conditions.

IN THE EVENT OF SNOW, IF RINK USERS HELP STAFF IN CLEARING THE ICE, THE RINK OPENS FASTER. THERE ARE LOTS OF SHOVELS, OR BRING YOURS FROM HOME.

CITYRINKS.CA WEBSITE

This is a website run by CELOS, giving information about all 49 municipal outdoor ice rinks, plus Harbourfront Rink. The site has maps, hours, schedules, phone numbers, ratings, and stormy-weather updates. It also has blogs about the individual rinks, with contributions from skaters. For information or comments: mail@cityrinks.ca.

Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks than any city in the world. It’s the free-outdoor-ice-skating capital of Canada!

Youth “One-Off” Shinny Program, Saturday Night, 9 -11 pm.

Local youth: get together a group of 12 or more and play shinny on the hockey pad. 9:00pm - 11:00pm. Contact Mayssan or Sarah at staff@dufferinpark.ca for more information. Free registered program, $50 deposit required - once you play, you get it back.

Women-only shinny hockey Tuesdays 9 – 11 pm.

This is an open women-only shinny hockey time. There’s also a women-only permit on Wednesday nights. To join up, contact staff. There are no men-only shinny hockey times, for obvious reasons.

ICE MAKING AND MAINTENANCE AT CITY RINKS

14 city rinks were supposed to open on the Nov.21 weekend. Only two did open then – City Hall and Dufferin Rink. Harbourfront, not managed by the city, also opened. Those three rinks all had overnight floods for the first week of ice-making. City rinks used to have late-night floods as a matter of course, but somehow that bit of ice-making know-how got lost. At Dufferin Rink, the volunteers were Sarah Cormier, Mayssan Shuja, and Matt Leithold, (volunteers from the rink program staff), Jutta Mason and Blair Merill. This is a simple thing that makes all the difference – easy, satisfying, and fun. And after the Star story, some of the regular rink staff were assigned do work until 2 a.m., which was also a big help. Let’s hope it spreads over the whole city for next year, and the disappointment of missed opening days won’t be repeated.

From the November 2009 Newsletter:

FOURTEEN RINKS RETURN TO OPENING ON TIME

For about ten years, some rink friends have been trying to persuade City’s management to open the outdoor compressor-cooled rinks earlier, during the weak-sun days of mid-November, and close them when the sun gets high and strong at the end of February. This would be a shift in the season to correspond with the angle of the sun – basically a return to the rink season that used to be the norm.

This idea couldn’t find any friends at City Hall. Then about a year ago, City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong got interested in it, and began trying to gain support for a citywide rink season shift from his councillor colleagues. No luck in 2007, so he tried again last December (2008), asking for a staff report on how much it would cost to open fourteen rinks on November 21 this coming November (2009).

The staff report was very unfavourable to the idea. One problem for them is that by the time rinks are ready to open, the yearly Parks budget is almost spent. If the rinks also close earlier, at the end of February, the money will be saved at the other end. But the savings don’t show up until the next fiscal year.

So a CELOS deputation at the Community Development and Recreation Committee, arguing in favour of the earlier opening, got nowhere. The earlier-opening hope seemed dead until at least November 2010, at the earliest.

Then one evening at the end of February 2009, Jutta Mason got an e-mail from Councillor Minnan-Wong. City Council was meeting very late that night (until 2 a.m.!), to discuss the City budget, and the councillor wrote that he had managed to get the earlier-opening date back onto the agenda. Not only that, but the tired councillors who were still in attendance at 11 p.m. voted 17 yes to 15 no! (Councillor Adam Giambrone says he was one of the “yes” votes.) So the earlier-opening resolution was snuck in again and passed.

The Dufferin Rink staff are happy. For years they’ve been having to explain to disappointed kids, pounding on the rink house door in November, that the rinks are still closed. November is when all the kids get excited about skating – now they can do it.

The other neighbourhood rinks opening on November 21 are Rennie, Sir Adam Beck, and Sunnydale in the west; Kew and Regent Park South in the centre, and Broadlands, Glen Long, Irving Chapley and Ledbury in the north.

The civic-square rinks opening on November 21 are City Hall, West Mall (in Etobicoke), Mel Lastman Square (in North York), and Albert Campbell Rink (in Scarborough). For more information: cityrinks.ca, or call the City’s new information line at 311.

From the November 2009 Newsletter:

GENERAL RINK INFORMATION

Rink clubhouse: open seven days a week, Monday to Sunday: 9:00am - 9:00pm Zamboni Café : Monday-Sunday 10:00am - 8:30pm

Shinny hockey: same hours as the rink clubhouse except Sundays. There is a (strictly enforced) age schedule. From rink staff: “If you ever see the wrong age group on the shinny ice, do us a favour and notify the rink staff right away.”

Pleasure-skating: always freely available. After 9:00pm, skating is unsupervised. Then it's a bit like skating on a pond: it’s mostly shinny hockey, and people are responsible for their own use of the rink.

Beginners’ free registered shinny hockey, Wednesday Nights From 10 to 11 P.M.
Each session consists of a warm up, drills and exercises to improve your skills and a fun scrimmage. This program is for those who are new to skating. Space is limited. Registration will be on a first come first served basis starting November 16, 2009. To register, e-mail Dan Watson at outdoor.shinny@gmail.com.

Beginners’ free drop-in shinny hockey, Sunday nights From 9:30 to 11 P.M.
Each session consists of warm up, quick lesson and an organized game for beginners. Space is limited each night to 30 players, and is on a first come first serve basis. More information: outdoor.shinny@gmail.com or 416 392-0913. Ask for Dan Watson.

Winter Schedule 2009-2010 The large rink lights turn off after 11:00pm, and then the rink is locked.

Parking: One good place to park is at Dufferin Mall across the street. After 5 pm. there’s lots of parking across from St.Mary’s School at the north end of the park too.

Rink contacts: 416 392-0913 or staff@dufferinpark.ca. The rink phone message will tell you the current ice skating conditions.

IN THE EVENT OF SNOW, IF RINK USERS HELP STAFF IN CLEARING THE ICE, THE RINK OPENS FASTER. THERE ARE LOTS OF SHOVELS, OR BRING YOURS FROM HOME.

CITYRINKS.CA WEBSITE

This is a website run by CELOS, giving information about all 49 municipal outdoor ice rinks, plus Harbourfront Rink. The site has maps, hours, schedules, phone numbers, ratings, and stormy-weather updates. It also has blogs about the individual rinks, with contributions from skaters. For information or comments: mail@cityrinks.ca.

Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks than any city in the world. It’s the free-outdoor-ice-skating capital of Canada!

From the October 2009 Newsletter:

DUFFERIN RINK WILL OPEN EARLIER: NOVEMBER 21

Background: Cityrinks.ca is a website about all the city’s compressor-cooled outdoor rinks (49 of them – Toronto has more than any other city in the world). The website is not run by the City but by CELOS. It has “rink diaries” covering the whole rink season, with lots of stories, and pictures of the many outdoor rinks all over the city. And then there are the posted accounts of the various ice-maintenance intrigues, the ice-and-sunshine cliffhangers, the short-lived triumphs, the one-step-forward-two-steps-back tempo of negotiations (if any) with rink management, the unexpected plot twists.

Here’s one such plot twist. For about ten years, some rink friends have been trying to persuade the City’s outdoor rink management to open the rinks earlier, during the weak-sun days of mid-November, and close them when the sun gets high and strong at the end of February. This would be a shift in the season to correspond with the angle of the sun – basically a return to the rink season that used to be the norm.

This idea couldn’t find any friends at City Hall. Then about a year ago, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong got interested in it, and began trying to gain support for a citywide rink season shift from his councillor colleagues. No luck last year, so he tried again last December, asking for a staff report on how much it would cost to open fourteen rinks on November 21 this coming November (2009).

The staff report was very unfavourable to the idea. And a cityrinks.ca deputation at the Community Development and Recreation Committee, arguing in favour of the earlier opening, got nowhere. The earlier-opening hope seemed dead until at least November 2010.

Then one evening at the end of February, Jutta Mason got an e-mail from Councillor Minnan-Wong. City Council was meeting very late that night (until 2 a.m.!), to discuss the City budget, and the councillor wrote that he had managed to get the earlier-opening date back onto the agenda. Not only that, but the tired councillors who were still in attendance voted 17 yes to 15 no! (Councillor Adam Giambrone says he was one of the “yes” votes.) So the earlier-opening resolution was snuck in again and passed.

That means that this coming November, fourteen rinks will open on November 21. Eight of those rinks were not scheduled to open until December 5, so that’s a pretty good improvement.

The Dufferin Rink staff are happy. For years they’ve been having to explain to disappointed kids, pounding on the rink house door in November, that the rinks are still closed. November is when all the kids get excited about skating – now they can do it.

The other neighbourhood rinks opening on November 21 are Rennie, Sir Adam Beck, and Sunnydale in the west; Kew and Regent Park South in the centre, and Broadlands, Glen Long, Irving Chapley and Ledbury in the north.

The civic-square rinks opening on November 21 are City Hall, West Mall (in Etobicoke), Mel Lastman Square (in North York), and Albert Campbell Rink (in Scarborough). For more information: cityrinks.ca, or call the City’s new information line at 311.


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