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Weather: Sunny much of the day, cold, high of -6, low -14. Windy in late afternoon. One brief snow-squall around 7 pm., then clear and calm. Lots of people out to skate, and really lots of fun in the evening -- lights went out at midnight.
E-mail from Ross Fazio: I'm sending you a picture of the "anti new years eve party" clan.I stumbled on to the Dufferin Grove rink after becoming quite frustrated with the service or lack of from the many rinks closest to me, with three young children suffering from cabin fever, Dufferin Grove became the place to be, (even my six year old refuses to go to any other rink). Thanks again for remaining open on New Year's Eve when no one else would.
Ice maintenance: Plow and zamboni to get overnight snow off the ice, 8 am. to 10 a.m. Zamboni 1 pm, 5.30 pm.
Ice Maintenance: 10 am, 5.30 pm. A busy day at the rink. Sadly, the recreation manager has said that staff are not permitted to rent out skates except for two hours on the weekend. The skates are there, but most of the week no one can use them.
Weather: high -3, low -8. Cloudy with sunny breaks, then snow starting at 9 p.m.
Another busy day today. Some shinny players (guys) came at 9 pm and they saw that there were only three women there for the women's open shinny program. They began to lobby to be allowed on the ice, and they were pretty unhappy to hear that women's shinny is not a permit that can be cancelled -- it's a program of women's shinny. One of the guys was particularly sure that he should be allowed on. There were still some little kids skating around on the "pond" rink pad right after 9. The new guy didn't think it was plausible that there would soon be a fast, thrilling game of shinny on that rink pad (as there is every night). He said -- I used to skate here before they even rebuilt the rink, more than fifteen years ago!
But it was no go. The staff told him that the women's shinny program stays, no matter what. The guy took off his skates and got packed up and left. Ten minutes after he was gone, the women's shinny game had fifteen players in it, and there was a fast game on the pond side too, only slowed down by the snow that began to fall. The little kids had all gone home.
So the guy missed seeing all that, and he didn't end up playing at his childhood rink. But there was no persuading him to wait and let the games unfold. Sad!
Ice maintenance today: 9.15 am, 1.30 pm, 5.15 pm, 8.50 pm. The zamboni driver says he needs a sharper blade, that replacing the blade once every two weeks is not enough.
Letter from rink user P.M. re Irving Chapley Rink:
"I think this arena is amazing and has such great potential for a major attraction in North York during the winter months. I've seen the ice in good condition over the years and its a blast playing there. However, I have not once this season seen this place maintained properly. The 14 ice maintenance shifts each week must be spent inside that newly built community centre, and not to mention how the phone rarely gets answered.... (they still have outdoor pool information on their answering machine) Its unacceptable. A few weeks ago the worker there refused to take the zamboni on the ice when I wanted to play with buddies cause he said it would ruin the surface."
Letter from Ledbury Rink:
Weather: High 3, low -3. Winds up to 80 km an hour in the evening, a few snowflurries mixed with rain.
The rink was crazy busy today. We had all thought that maybe people had given up skating, but it turns out they've only given up skating in iffy weather. So today the rink was swarming from morning until the gates were locked at 11 pm.
Scenes from a rink:
- a Filipino family with three kids brought their in-laws from New Jersey, with four kids. They all rented skates, and they were so pleased that the dad drove back home and fetched four more cousins. The mom said that she had mentioned the possibility of skating at bedtime the day before, so the kids had been talking about nothing else since morning. One of the cousins said his skates were too big. But the other skates he had tried on were too small. A park friend heard the conversation and helped re-tie the laces tighter. After that the skates "worked perfectly" and the kid was glowing.
- Neighbours skate round and round the rink, talking companionably to one another, two by two. I see people doing this, when I didn't even know that they knew each other. Maybe they only see one another during the daily school drop-off, but at the rink there's more time, while the kids play shinny hockey or skate around separately. It's an old and slow form of socializing, like priests walking back and forth under the colonnade at the Vatican. Today there were very few cell phones in evidence -- maybe it's possible to be at the rink with a bit less electronic updating.
- The parent-child shinny had about thirty (or more) kids and parents, seven or more pucks. Yet when the hour and a half ended, players came off saying it was such a good game.
- Two parents arranged with the staff to pick up a little padlock key for the side gate, so they can come to the rink early in the mornings before they leave for work, to play shinny with their kids. The rink can't stay open at night, like those rinks without fences, because of the noise that bothers the rink neighbours at night. But it's simple to give rink friends a key so they can open the gate in the morning before the staff arrive.
- Brazilian newcomers rent skates a lot, and they are often big groups with all different ages represented, up to grandparents. Same with the Tibetans.
- A City staff from another area came by to check out how this rink runs. In her opinion, even though rink staff have collected enough skates to start a rental program for another rink, they should only rent them out for two hours on the weekend. The reason: staff should not be handling money ($2 per rental!).
Such an artificial skate scarcity would affect school classes at Dufferin, where the teachers call in the skate sizes ahead of time, and the rink staff have them ready. It's an easy way for kids to get exercise and have fun (and the teachers often treat their kids to discounted hot chocolate and cookies). These school classes don't pay a rink permit fee, since they don't have exclusive use of the rink. But in the opinion of the "Strategic Development" staff downtown, all classes should be paying a fee. So the classes just don't come, and the rinks are often empty in the daytime. At Dufferin Rink, skate rentals for school classes are often free --another no-no, maybe.
- During the evening over-18 adult shinny time, one of the players was observed to be quite drunk. The staff leader (a petite, gutsy young woman), told him to go home. He took off his skates and came over to her, waving his fists. Then threw the skates at her, saying "I'm gonna cut your face up." But his friend dragged him away. Another staff person called the police, saying "assault with a weapon." The police came fast, but by then the guy's friend had managed to drag him out of there.
- Just before 11 pm, one of the shinny hockey players got a puck in the face. His lip bled profusely, and the staff came out with gauze. He waved them away, saying he wanted to take a picture of himself with his face all bloody. Then he whipped out his cellphone, to the great entertainment of his friends. The photo is probably up on Facebook now.
Ice maintenance today: 10am flood - augur jammed, ok by 11am; 3:45pm; 7pm; 8:55pm.
Group e-mail from Gar Mahood:
The Zamboni did a flood and scrape between 3:30 and 3:45pm. The Zamboni came back at 8:10pm and did a second flood. At 8:30, the rink lights went out. Some of the hockey players ran after the Zamboni driver. One of the players used to work at the rink and knows there's a timer in the compressor room. He asks the Zamboni driver to check it. The driver agrees. When he comes out, he tells the players the timer had been set to 8. He turned the lights back on and re-set the timer to 10:30.
It was a busy evening at the rink. Maybe the players were making up for the days lost to bad weather and poor maintenance.
At 4 o'clock there were thirty hockey players on the ice. Two fathers and their young boys were practicing at the west end behind the net, while most of the other players played a very fast game of shinny. The young boys were wearing full equipment, which is rare at Campbell.
According to the schedule, 4-6:30pm is reserved for children under 17 and their caregivers. The building attendant approached the fathers and asked if they had enough room to play. The fathers said they were alright, except for the fact that the game sometimes went into end zone. The building attendant offered to speak to the older players about this, but the fathers said that wasn't necessary. They said the older players had been OK. One of the older players overheard the conversation, looked at the rink staffer and nodded his head to show he understood about the need to keep the game out of the end zone.
At about 6, it started to rain. A hockey player complained about the ice and asked if the Zamboni would be coming back. At 7, there were twenty players on the ice and another ten lacing up skates in the dressing room. When a few of those players came off the ice, they stayed in the rinkhouse to drink juice and play checkers. A number players complained about the ice and were unhappy when the building attendant said the Zamboni might not be coming again. They were very happy when the Zamboni arrived after 8 to do a flood and scrape. After the Zamboni left at 8:30pm, there were fifteen players on the ice.
The ice has been good here for most of the day. At 4 pm, the zamboni operator had just put on a flood, which was surprising given the amount of rain in the last 24 hours. But he said the ice would be shaved down a bit in the next few days to keep it low. And it looked great, with lots of skaters on the shinny hockey side.
Some rain first thing in the morning, and then the temperature began to drop. But because Christie Rink has no drainage, the rain stayed on. The flying crew came by in the morning and lifted up the hockey nets so they wouldn't sink in. Then they left, without doing any maintenance. The rink program staff had brought up benches for the Sunday campfire, but the wind was too strong. Still, they set up the snack bar inside for the two hours a week it's supposed to be open. People came by but the ice was unskateable, so they left again. No ice maintenance happened until 4.30 pm, a short time before the rink was set to close. Then the crew came and pushed the water off, and the ice was excellent. Too late!
An early-morning rain shower put some more water on the ice. Then the rain stopped, but there was no ice maintenance at all. At 3 pm, pleasure-skating time began. The three hockey players who were on the ice were asked to get off, so they left. A father and his little daughter stayed. The zamboni arrived on its trailer, and one of the two zamboni guys went into the rink house. He came back out shortly and got back in the truck, and they left without doing any maintenance.
Weather: mild and rainy high of 9 in the morning, then high winds and the temperature dropped to 3 in the afternoon. The zamboni driver said that when he came to resurface the ice early in the morning it was hard, so he flooded it! After all that rain. Then later ion the morning he was reluctant to go on again, in case the water on the rink (after the final morning rainshower) was actually from the ice melting. A tricky bit of negotiation, not "giving direction" but trying to explain that the zamboni can take off the water, and that it's important to keep scraping the ice so it doesn't get too high. When he heard about the way that Rennie Rink staff maintained their ice yesterday, so that it was skateable when the other rinks were full of water, the driver said that everyone has their own way.
But he agreed to go out with the zamboni and afterwards the ice was much better. The skaters said it was as smooth as they've ever seen it, and they looked very happy gliding along.
The fact is, the ice is over 3 inches in places and we may be heading toward the same thick-ice crisis we had three years ago. So hopefully we can persuade the maintenance people to do the ice like at Rennie.
Dufferin Rink resurfacing:
The morning zamboni operator did two resurfacings on his 8-hour shift: first around 9am or earlier, he did a scrape and flood (despite the rain yesterday). Then at 12 noon he did a scrape. The afternoon operator did two resurfacings on his 8-hour shift: a scrape at 5 pm and another scrape at 8pm.
Wallace Rink got a maintenance visit for resurfacing at 10.30 a.m., then nothing more all day. There was a lot of snow on the ice from all-day shinny hockey and pleasure-skating, and the rink program staff called the pager for the ice maintenance forepersons and the supervisor, to ask for resurfacing -- no answer anywhere.
Such poor service is regrettable, since the programs are so popular. The skate loans are almost continuous since the new donation by the NHL Players' Association, newcomer skaters are coming all the time, families that stopped coming during the bad old times are returning. Rink staff say they are still getting comments of pleased surprise about the rebuilt, bright rink change rooms.
But none of it works if there is no maintenance. This is one of the city;s main pads, but it has no zamboni and highly unreliable flying squad ice maintenance. The "Women of Winter" hockey group collected $400 toward a zamboni tent but the City Councillor has not responded to their query about when the tent (similar to the High Park and City Hall zamboni tents) will be installed.
At 10am it is warm outside. Nobody is skating or playing hockey. The nets, which had been put up on the benches last night, were back on the ice and had left grooves in the soft surface. The grooves were deeper at the east end, which confirms what a hockey player had said previously about the east end of the rink going soft before the west end does. The ice surface was very smooth and looked like it had been cleaned but there was a lot of water at the ends and on the north side.
A little after 10, a driver and another worker arrived with the Zamboni. They put the nets back on the benches. After putting up the nets and looking around, the two workers left. They did not bring the Zamboni on the ice even though there was a lot of water on it.
At 12:30pm, a man comes to the rink, looks at the ice and says it looks good enough for skating. He says he'll be back with his boy. The first skaters of the day, a father and his teenage son here to play hockey, arrive at 1. A few of the local rink rats, four teenage boys, also come by. They don't have their skates with them and just want to hang out. The building attendant offers them hot chocolate but they aren't interested. When the city staffer suggests they get their skates and play some hockey, one of the boys says it's too cold.
Then a second father and son come to play hockey. Then the dad who said the ice was good enough to play on came back with his son, so that there were three father and son pairs playing a fast-paced game of shinny. One of the men said the ice was pretty good except there was a lot of stuff stuck in it. He said it could use a good scrape. Also, there's still a lot of water at the east end.
While the fathers and sons were playing, some of the regular shinny players arrived. A slow, but steady stream of players came and went during the afternoon. There were six-seven players on the ice at a time. At around 5, a couple of moms came to the rink with their sons. While the boys played, the women kept warm in the rinkhouse, drinking coffee and chatting with each other in Korean.