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The three outdoor rinks, Nathan Philips Square, Harbourfront (non-city) and Dufferin, that opened this weekend all had one thing in common – overnight floods, which was the norm during rink start-up week in the old days at the City.
No other city outdoor rinks opened. Many (not quite all) of the City’s rink staff seem convinced that ice cannot be made at temperatures much above 0 celsius.
1. Toronto/East York:
Nathan Philips Square opened on Nov.21. It had 2-3 overnight shifts, so the ice was quite skateable, with only a thin layer of water where the sun hit. However, the lights were not working, so in the evenings there were large numbers of people skating in the dark .
Regent Park South had the compressors running but very little evidence of ice-making. No one was on site during any of our visits. On Sunday Nov.22 a new sign had been posted, saying that the rink would open on Wednesday Nov.25, “weather permitting.” However there was no staff assigned on Sunday for either shift, so no floods occurred. No water = no ice, whatever the weather.
The rink change room has been repainted in blue and there are blue paint-footsteps and rubbery puddles of blue paint outside the front door, with the largest puddle congealed at the storm drain ten feet from the door.
Dufferin Grove opened on Nov.22. When it became evident on Tuesday Nov. 17 that Local 416 staff were only able to build ice very slowly because of the warm weather, volunteers added extra hose-floods overnight (2 each on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 3 each on Friday and Saturday). Intermittent rain on Thursday was very helpful, and Local 416 staff were able to build on the extra floods by multiplying their own efforts – doing 5 floods on their Friday evening shift and 6 floods on Saturday evening. Heavy use all day on Sunday, combined with warm sunshine, again made overnight repair necessary on Sunday.
Hodgson was listed as open on 311 on Nov.22, but it was not. It had ice but also a lot of water and there are signs that the age of the rink may be showing. It may be that this rink has only daytime staff assigned – not sure. If the flooding only occurs during the day, that would also explain why it’s so wet.
Kew has compressors on but no sign of any staff flooding on either the Saturday or the Sunday evening shift – and very little water on the rink.
Sunnydale has unfinished renovations that don’t allow staff access to the compressors, so they are not on.
Sir Adam Beck also has unfinished renovations, but the compressors are on and there have been some efforts to flood in the evening, no overnights.
West Mall has compressors on, with all power directed to the hockey ice only. Floods in the evening, no overnights.
Rennie has compressors on, and on Friday there was build-up on the more shaded pleasure-skating side, with the hockey side still intermittent. No overnights.
3. North York:
Glen Long, Irving Chapley, Broadlands, and Mel Lastman Square all have their compressors turned off since Thursday, and no ice at all.
Albert Campbell: although it’s completely protected from sun by the surrounding overhanging buildings, this rink apparently never had the compressors started at all. It is on the city website as one of the 14 rinks scheduled to open early, but the rink hotline leaves it off the early-opening list, and the specific rink message says it will open Dec.5 .
5. Harbourfront (not a city rink but good for comparison):
They started making ice on Sunday Nov.15. Staff were scheduled from 6 pm to 6 am for the first week. In between the overnight flood times, staff sort and sharpen skates, clean etc.
Back to the City rinks: Staff are on site at 11 of the 14 city rinks; however it does appear that there is little consistency except in omissions, little problem-solving, and a surprising amount of unawareness of how compressors work.
Judging by the scheduling pattern and the absence of staff at some of the rinks, it appears that Parks never did have the goal of getting 14 rinks open on November 21, although City Council approved it.
Interestingly, the city website has removed all March closing dates from the outdoor rinks list. Progress there, at least.