Volume 7, Number 1, January-February 2006
SHINNY HOCKEY NEWS
There were three tournaments in January in the three-rink cluster:
Women of Winter Shinny Hockey Tournament at Dufferin Rink January
6 and 7 (8 teams): which was also featured in the media
Wallace Rink Shinny Hockey Tournament (ages 8 to 13) shinny
tournament January 7 (6 teams), so the younger kids had their
own tournament at Wallace while Dufferin Rink was reserved for women’s
Campbell Rink Tournament (15 and over) January 21 (6
All the tournaments were fast and exciting and worked out really well.
If it hadn’t been for Deirdre Norman getting the ball rolling
with her women’s shinny tournament, we might not have copied her by
having other tournaments as well. (Thanks!) Next up (still in the
planning stage) is a February invitation to the Jimmie Simpson Rink
“hockey in the neighborhood” program (at Queen near Broadview), to
bring over some younger teams to play at one or several of our three
cluster rinks, maybe also with kids from Regent Park South Rink.
Watch for the posters, or talk to Dufferin Rink staff.
EXTENDED RINK HOURS
Campbell Rink, Christie Rink, Wallace Rink and Dufferin Rink
all close their change areas between 8 and 9.30 p.m. but lovers of
shinny hockey can play longer if there is no permit. The hockey gates
are not locked until 11p.m., and the rink lights and nets stay on too.
At Wallace and Dufferin Rinks, whenever there’s a permit on the hockey
side (and even when there isn’t), there are also energetic shinny games
on the pleasure-skating side after regular hours.
Rinks close to houses are locked after 11 p.m. so that there is no
middle-of-the-night noise to wake up the neighborhood. Any noise
complaints should be reported to recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro
at 391-0041, and to Dufferin Rink staff (even for the
other rinks) at 392-0913, and e-mailed to the City rink
manager, James Dann, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If hockey
players climb the fence and make a bunch of hockey racket in the night,
they can expect to be confronted by rink staff and given letters of
trespass forbidding any further rink access (including during regular
rink hours) this year. If people want to play hockey in the dark, they
can go to City Hall Rink – there’s a game there every night,
and the noise doesn’t bother other people.
LEND US YOUR OLD FAMILY SHINNY HOCKEY PHOTOS
If you have any old photos of your hockey-playing grandmother or
grand-dad, or yourself as a little kid, playing shinny hockey on the
pond, in your backyard, or on a City rink, please bring them by and let
us photocopy them. We’re starting an “old hockey photos” display at the
rink house. We have some good photos from the City archives – now we
need some from the neighborhood.
We promise to be very careful with the photos and just copy them at
Kwik Copy and then return the originals right away. So please: rummage
around in your old photo albums and share the action shots you find in
FOOD IN THE PARK
The zamboni cafe is open seven days a week with the staple
items of mini-pizzas, Beretta’s organic hot dogs, Sosnicki’s
organic perogies, sandwiches, soup and park oven bread (the main soup
cooks are Mary Sylwester, Amy Withers, and Niko Gomez),
and of course Fair Trade coffee, hot chocolate, drinks, and the
park’s chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. On Thursdays the park
bakers arrive at 6 a.m. to bake bread for the weekly farmers’
market (3 to 7 p.m.), and there’s bake-oven pizza as well. Fridays
the cooks make Friday Night Supper with farmers’ market
produce: both meat and vegan dishes, salad, and a dessert. Left-overs
are served all weekend long.
When the park’s Hobart dough-mixer broke in December, the
park staff had to make all the bread and the huge batches of park
cookies by hand, and that was tough. We found out that even a
second-hand replacement would cost at least $3000, and the park cookie
money couldn’t cover that. There was some unsuccessful searching, and
then one day park friend Herschel Stroyman brought over an old
friend of his. Issie Chackowicz is mainly a bike mechanic, but
he’s “handy” (he knows how to fix things), and he’s not scared to
search out how things work. He figured out how to take out the broken
motor, and he brought it to a machinist to rewind (that means taking
out the broken bits and winding an amazing amount of shiny new copper
wire into the motor). On January 19 Issie brought the motor back and
re-installed it and, lo and behold: it WORKED. For $500, Issie got our
mixer fixed: no garbage mixer in the landfill and no more sore wrists
for the park bakers.
Meantime another park friend talked to her teacher, executive chef Robert
Pittl at the Bayview Country Club. He had an old Hobart
mixer sitting unused in their storage room, and he said we could have
it for free. The parks department sent a truck to get it and now we
have a second mixer. However, it won’t switch on! So Issie Chackowicz
came back and he has some ideas. (Two mixers are better than one).
We’ll see how he does with this one.
Issie has also told us he teaches bike maintenance classes and
would like to do that at Dufferin Grove Park in the spring – watch this
newsletter for details.
THE UPSIDE-DOWN WORLD OF CITY RINKS
For some years now, most of the City’s staff zamboni operators have
been reluctant to work at Dufferin Rink. Some have not been shy
to say so. They say there’s too much interference with their regular
way of running rinks. The zamboni drivers seem particularly unhappy
about the idea that they should match their ice maintenance visits to
the rink program schedule. One particular zamboni operator recently
insisted on clearing the ice before a hockey permit was finished,
because, he said, that was his prerogative if he felt like it. When a
rink friend argued with him, the zamboni driver and his partner left
the rink without grooming the ice at all, and went home early. A few
days later some of the City zamboni drivers summoned their supervisor
to a health and safety meeting.
The following day the on-site rink staff were told that they must
follow a new health and safety “protocol.” It soon became
apparent that these new rules would make it much harder to keep to our
ten-year practice of letting skaters keep on skating on the
pleasure-skating side while the hockey side is being cleaned by the
zamboni, and vice versa. (This is another feature of our rink that has
been unpopular with many City zamboni drivers.)To comply with the new
rules in the evenings, on-site rink staff would either have to leave
the rink house unattended for half an hour, or add another staff
whose only role was to double the staff already standing guard outside
by the hockey lift-gate (to prevent people from being run over by the
zamboni). If the second on-site rink staff was not there, the zamboni
driver would have the right to leave the work site immediately,
on the grounds of employee health and safety.
This is a bit of déjà vu! The last time there was an
employee health and safety complaint at the rink was a few days before Christmas
2003, when City inspectors came and said Dufferin Rink was the
worst rink they had ever seen. On that occasion they ordered the
new community kitchen bordering the zamboni garage to be torn out and
the giant Clay and Paper Theatre puppets to be removed from high up in
the rafters. They also said that no one but a licensed zamboni driver
could enter the zamboni garage.
A Zamboni, as skaters know, is about the size of a small truck. It
has four wheels, a scraper/flooder at the back, and a large chamber for
storing the scraped-off snow at the front. As with street sweepers,
snowploughs, and road repair vehicles, the driver’s visibility is less
than in a car, so the driver has to take extra care. When a zamboni is
standing in a garage, though, it’s no more dangerous than a parked car,
and so the inspectors’ 2003 verdict did not stand. The Dufferin
Rink kitchen is still there, the puppets are back, and the farmers’
market and all sorts of other events have continued.
But now it seems that once again a zamboni is being held up as a
singularly dangerous vehicle from which skaters must be protected. So
even if you (and your kids) know how to cross a busy road like Dufferin
Street without a crossing guard, you can’t be trusted to stay back from
a moving zamboni with only one rink guard to warn you off.
Back to the requirement of having an extra, otherwise unnecessary
staff person at the rink in the evening. The zamboni supervisor says
that there’s only one alternative: to shut all the skaters inside
the rink house during the time the zamboni operator is grooming the
ice. He says that Dufferin Rink has become so busy that special
protections must be put in place. It’s not that there has been any
accident, but that there could be.
So now we have a problem. The philosophy at this park is to
stay away from having extra staff who have waiting-around time as part
of their job description, even though that may be a common way
municipal government is run. As things stand, the Dufferin Rink staff
are booked to do the work that’s needed. Because the rink has become so
well used by so many different people, that work includes keeping the
rink house clean and arranging it as a neighbourly space, hosting
community events, teaching skating, connecting with other rinks, youth
counselling, court work with youth, giving citywide rink information,
doing web postings, shovelling snow, helping farmers on market day,
running the zamboni café, helping the zamboni operator, organizing
tournaments, and more. On-site rink staff deal with all the different
demands on them, more or less successfully, by helping one another and
listening to rink users. They also get rock-solid support from the
The zamboni crew have chosen to stay out of this loop and to set
their rules independently. That’s a puzzle. A clash of philosophies?
So many City rinks still have their windowless staff room with the old
couch and the all-winter card game, where the zamboni operators and the
on-site rink staff and a few favourite rink users spend time between
periods of ice maintenance. Sometimes the door is propped open, other
times it’s locked from the inside. Is that protection from the public
really so much more agreeable than running a rink that’s a friendly hub
in a lively neighbourhood?
There will be some discussions now between the City zamboni
operators and the Dufferin Rink on-site staff. Hopefully
the two clashing philosophies will move a little closer again. If not
(since we don’t like to hire waiting-around rink staff), rink users
will have plenty of time to brainstorm about the upside-down world
of city rinks, when they’re squashed together inside the rink house
as the zamboni moves around the ice outside, all alone.
I. COB COURTYARD VANDALISM: INVITATION TO CITY LAWYERS TO ACT
At about two a.m. last Hallowe’en, park neighbour and friend Bruce
Whitaker was awakened by the sound of cracking and smashing in the
park. He got up and looked, and called the police. Two cruisers
happened to be in the neighborhood already and came within minutes.
They arrested a young person under 18 for vandalizing the cob courtyard
that was built by many neighborhood people under Georgie Donais’
direction all last summer. With some large stones, the young man had
destroyed half of artist Susan Szenes intricate mosaic counter,
all the plumbing fixtures on the public health sinks, and
three-quarters of the tiles painted for the cob courtyard by park
children. He had also made many holes in the walls. The cob walls are
much too strong to break down, but the many holes in the plaster would
give access to winter snow and rain (and so there is some interior
water penetration now).
Our first step was to hire summer cob-builder foreperson Heidrun
Gabel-Koepff to record all the damage for the court, and to fix as
many of the plaster holes as possible. Our second step was to try and
get involved in the court case. Georgie and many others thought it
would be best if the young man was sentenced to do community service
hours fixing up the cob damage. That could connect him to the community
in a more positive way at the same time. (Most park youth are also
park-boosters, and this park has an unusually low amount of damage
But no matter where we asked, we couldn’t find out anything about
the court case. In frustration, we turned to the City’s legal
department, to see if they could gain standing at the trial. That’s
when we found out that the city does not use their lawyers to follow up
on vandalism even when an arrest is made. Their reason: it would not be
Many park friends disagree. If the police know that the City will
not go to court for vandalism, why would the police take the trouble to
investigate such acts? They would see it as a waste of their time.
Beyond that, news gets around. Many youth know that the City
doesn’t follow up in vandalism arrests. So why should they worry about
doing antisocial acts in public space?
Since concern about antisocial acts by youth is currently running
high in Toronto, we contacted City Councillor Adam Giambrone
and the mayor’s office. The councillor said he is looking into
changing policy but we are asking for a meeting with city lawyers, so
that park staff and cob builders can explain our thinking to them.
Watch the newsletter for follow-up.
II. COB COURTYARD VANDALISM: YOUNG OFFENDER DIVERSION
Since the City (owner of the park and everything in it) took no role in
contacting the courts about the youth who vandalized the cob courtyard,
other ways had to be found. After much searching and phone tag by park
staff, Jutta Mason went to the youth court at 311
Jarvis Street. She walked up and down the office corridors and
looked at door signs until she found the youth’s probation worker.
Then they had a long talk.
It turned out that the probation worker lives in this area. She had
watched the cob courtyard being built and had brought her whole family
over to see it at Thanksgiving. (Toronto is a small town!) Not only
that – the probation worker had read in the December Park Newsletter,
posted on the rink shed, that we were frustrated because we couldn’t
contact the court about the cob vandalism.
The probation worker knew how much community effort had gone into
the cob courtyard. So she had told the young man, after he formally
accepted responsibility for the damage in the park last November, that
he would not be charged if he went and talked to the cob builders, and
also helped to repair the damage. But there was a snag – before the
young man could do any repair work, young offender diversion
procedure says there first has to be a “talking circle” on the
model of what native people do (they call it a “healing circle”).
Everyone with a specific concern about the incident, including the
young man’s friends and the cob courtyard builders, could be involved.
The agency employed to set up and lead this circle is called Peacebuilders
International. They are based in St. James Town and Regent
Park, and they hadn’t contacted us because they had never heard
of Dufferin Grove Park and didn’t know how to find us.
So we invited their worker to the park and had a good talk with
him. Now we hope the preparations for direct contact are going ahead.
More news next month.
TELL THE TOW TRUCKS WHAT YOU THINK
As many rink users have noticed, there are often tow trucks parked at
the dead end beside the rink house. They feel at home in that spot, and
out of the way. From time to time, the tow truck drivers double park
right in the middle of the street so they can compare notes out their
driver’s side windows. When a park friend recently pointed out to two
drivers that they were making it hard for the apartment building
residents (and rink users) to drive in and out, the drivers said this
was the first complaint they had ever heard. They need more feedback!
If you see them block the street, and it bothers you, tell them you
don’t like it. If they still don’t move, come and tell the rink staff
and they’ll write down the tow truck’s metro license number and
report them to the licensing people.
But they’ll probably listen to you the first time, when they
realize that people actually don’t like them blocking the street. It’s
just that they didn’t know.
CITIZENS’ AUDIT: PARKS AND REC: RELEASE IS ON FEBRUARY 10
From before Christmas, 2004, when the first “city secrets” freedom of
information appeals were funded by park friends, until now, the park’s
little research group has been looking to see where our Parks and
Recreation tax money goes. The research group is called CELOS
(pronounced cee-loss), CEntre for LOcal
research into public Space. Even though our group is
so small, we’ve found out quite a bit, from reading City Council
minutes and submitting a lot of freedom of information requests.
There seem to be some puzzling expenditures, small, medium and large,
related to playgrounds, energy retrofits, rinks, managers, insurance,
debt charges – and that’s just a part. Requests for clarification
don’t generally get much (or any) response. That’s no wonder, because
the City is in increasingly serious financial trouble and alarm bells
are going off all over the place about accountability and budgeting
methods. It may be that the MFP Computer scandal is not the end of it.
This being a municipal election year makes it a good time
for citizens and those in municipal government to think about where our
taxes go. CELOS will be presenting the first “Citizens’ Audit” about
Parks, Forestry and Recreation to the City Budget Advisory
Committee and to the City Auditor on February 10.
The Audit will also be posted at the Dufferin Rink house, and it will
be on the park web site, www.dufferinpark.ca, click on “research.”
We hope it makes gripping reading!
YOUR COOKIE MONEY AT WORK
This past month, extra funds from the rink snack bar:
- helped to build a temporary stairway at Wallace Rink that gets rid of
the entrapment at the dead end by the hockey rink retaining wall, and
allows easier access to rink parking
- repaired the motor of the park bread mixer (see the “Food in the park”
- supplied free hot dogs for tournaments and family skate times at our
sister rinks, Campbell and Wallace
- bought firewood for the rink house wood stove
- got us more staff for farmers’ market day and busy weekends
- helped pay for Wallace Rink research (February 5 rink rebuild
This newsletter was funded by the zamboni café and by park
friend Suchada Promsiri, the owner/chef of the aptly named
tiny-but-delicious OhSoGood Café on College near Ossington: she
gave us $105.15 for two newsletters – the entire contents of
her tip jar.