Pages in this Folder:

Related Folders:

See also Department Site Map


This website was developed in 2001 thanks to a grant from the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation.

Notice: This web site is an information post and a forum for the community that uses the park, and to some degree for the surrounding neighbourhood. The editor of the web site reserves the right to post parts or all of any letters sent to the web site. If you do not want your letter posted, please let us know when you e-mail us, and we won't post it.


For the basics, see
- Website & Privacy Policies
- How To Get Involved
- The Role of the Park

Search options:

up to a month to index new postings
web search

Search Editor:
local & up to date but simpler
See Search Page

Department Site Map


posted January 15, 2004

Breastfeeding Etiquette in the Shared-Use Rink House

When Dufferin Rink was rebuilt eleven years ago, it seemed like a good idea to widen its use so that families as well as youth would like to go there. Rinks have a tendency to become a bit unpleasant, with some scary scenes being played out - bullying and various illegal transactions. Dufferin Rink used to be well known as a place like that. If the rink could be made a more pleasant place, we thought, families would return and there would be a mix of rink uses that would be better for everyone - youth too.

So we added the wood stove and the cookies and the storybooks, and gradually families returned. We got female as well as male rink staff, worked with the city to improve the ice cleaning, posted "no swearing" rules on the wall, and more families came. (More youth too, the ones who had been bullied away before.) There used to be trouble with fights and damage on Friday nights, so Dan DeMatteis and Lea Ambros started Friday Night Supper, and the eaters squeezed out the rascals. Then the market came, and now there are days when it's hard to find anyplace to change into skates, the place is so full of activity.

<div class="sidebar-right-medium"> <p class="compact">See also <i>Email Correspondence with Dr. Paul Rapoport of the Topfree Equal Rights Association</i> lower on this page.</p> </div>

The youth whose turf was altered in this way have been pretty accepting of the changes, even if they have to go outside or into the washroom to change on busy days.

However it's important to make sure that a balance is maintained between being a shinny hockey change house and a place for families with little children. One issue that recently tested this principle came up over the breastfeeding of babies in the rink house.

Here's our practice: breastfeeding a baby is welcome anywhere in the rink house at any time. Babies have to eat, and that's the best way to nourish them (so that they will become strong skaters and hockey players!). No need to hide the nursing baby by putting a blanket over its head while it nurses, either - why hide such a wonderful sight?

Wicker chair in washroom

There is however a problem if a mother feels the need to disrobe in such a way that a good deal more than the nursing baby is visible. A few babies are a bit rowdy, and hard to nurse discreetly. In those cases, we have several options. There is a comfortable seat in the women's washroom (the washroom is bigger and brighter than normal, so there's room for a nursing corner). If the baby's mother wants to stay in the main room, there is a curtain that can be pulled across half the room, or if she prefers, there is a small screen that can be placed beside her, wherever she's sitting, to give a bit more privacy.

The reason why any radical disrobing during breastfeeding is screened like this is that many people find it unsettling to see a woman who is visibly undressed in the middle of the rink change room. Youth of both sexes are often modest, and so are many of the families of different cultures who have also come to use the rink house.

(By the way, a message to the occasional shinny hockey players who feel the need to strip down and change before or after they play hockey: the same thing applies to you folks - pull the curtain or change in the very large men's washroom, sitting on the bench that's provided there. Not everyone wants to see your underwear.)

Shared use of the rink house means taking into account all the different points of view, so all the different groups can come inside. Babies can eat, people can skate, farmers can bring their excellent food, young folks can play checkers with friends - the whole quilt.

hosted by | powered by pmwiki-2.2.83. Content last modified on May 21, 2006, at 05:37 PM EST