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Skating Rink News

posted December 10, 2006

Skating And Shinny Hockey Schedule

Shinny hockey schedule

Monday - Friday:

  • 9:00am - 3:15pm all ages (New: on Monday and Friday the rink doesn’t open until 10am, for extra ice maintenance)
  • 3:30pm - 5:30pm Level 2 (about 13 to 17, medium pace)
  • 5:30pm - 6:30pm Level 1 (12 and under and parent or caregiver, or novice adult)
  • 6:45pm - 7:45pm all ages
  • 7:45pm - 8:55pm Level 3 (usually 18 and over, fast-paced)

Night Schedule:

Monday 9p.m: Seasonal permit (plus open shinny on pleasure-skating side)

Tuesday 9 - 11 pm: Women’s open shinny (plus men’s open shinny on pleasure-skating side)

Wednesday 9-10: Seasonal permit. 10-11: “beginners only” drop-in shinny hockey (plus open shinny on pleasure-skating side)

Thursday 9 pm: Seasonal permit (plus open shinny on pleasure-skating side)

Friday 9 pm: Seasonal permit (plus open shinny on pleasure-skating side)


  • 9:00am - 12:00pm all ages

Pleasure-skating side (9.30 - 1.30 learn-to-skate program on part of the ice)

  • 12:00pm - 1:30pm Level 1 (12 and under and parent or caregiver, or novice adult)
  • 1:45pm - 3:45pm all ages
  • 3:45pm - 5:15pm Level 2 (about 13 to 17, medium pace)
  • 5:30pm - 7:00pm all ages
  • 7:00pm - 8:55pm Level 3 (usually 18 and over, fast paced)
  • 9 pm: single-occasion permit (open shinny on pleasure-skating side)


  • 10:00am - 5:00pm No shinny hockey. Pleasure skating both sides.
  • 5-6.30 pm: parent/child shinny permit, pleasure skating other side
  • 6.30-8 p.m. Seasonal permit, pleasure-skating other side
  • 8-9.30 pm. Seasonal permit, pleasure-skating other side to 9, then open shinny
  • 9.30-11: youth shinny league. (plus open shinny on pleasure-skating side)

Novice adult shinny hockey practice

Are you a wannabe shinny hockey player, but just starting to get the hang of it? Dufferin Rink offers an hour of protected drop-in shinny hockey time, Wednesday nights from 10 to 11 p.m. None of the Dufferin Rink hot shots are allowed on the ice during that time. No need to register, and it’s free, with a staff resource person on the ice who will pass to you and give you pointers if you want. Or you can just practice as you choose. For more information, call the park at 416 392-0913, and ask for Dan Watson.

posted December 1, 2006

Opening Day

Dufferin Rink opened on Dec.2, despite a run of very warm weather leading up to opening day. City rinks supervisor Brian Green and zamboni driver Roger Doble performed a miracle, with a little help from some providential rains two days before opening, plus a drop in temperature, plus the powerful cooling action of the rink’s two 75 hp compressors. Roger arrived at 6.30 a.m. on opening day and flooded the rink for three hours. Then the hockey players and pleasure skaters appeared out of nowhere, the rink filled up, and presto! It was winter.

posted December 10, 2006

Global Warming And The Rink Season

The first outdoor rink to open in Toronto this year was Harbourfront Rink, on Nov.19. Then City Hall Rink opened on Nov.25, then Dufferin Rink on Dec.2. Most others were not scheduled to open until Dec.9.

During the warm spells at the end of November, City Hall had water on it, apparently because of an ice maintenance error. But Harbourfront held up just fine – on Friday Dec.1, that rink had over 100 people on it at 17 degrees, skating under the pink and blue floodlights there. New York City did even better: they opened Central Park Ice Rink on Oct.20 this year, and had no trouble with late November temperatures of 18 degrees. The sun is very weak in November – exactly the low sun these compressor-run outdoor rinks work best in. That’s the sun of early to mid-winter. The outdoor rinks begin to struggle when the sun gets higher and stronger toward the end of February. The City rinks Web Site will chronicle the weather and ice conditions every day this winter until March 18, when the last outdoor rinks (including Dufferin Rink) are scheduled to close. Then rink friends will make another pitch to City Council’s “Parks and the Environment” committee, to bring the rink season back to the excellent mid-November-to-end-of-February schedule that they were built for. One of these years, we may finally carry our point.

posted December 10, 2006

Youth Ice-Games Trial

Kids of a certain age want to play British bulldog and ice tag, more than they want to breathe. The rink has a posted rule against those youthful, thrilling, obnoxious games, and the rink staff spend lots of energy taking kids off the ice for breaking the rule.

A few parents have suggested that maybe kids should be allowed to play exciting ice games for ten minutes of every hour: always on the hour, so that skaters wanting a relaxing, peaceful skate will know they can come at ten minutes after the hour and enjoy the next 50 minutes.

It’s an interesting idea. The young teenagers who love ice games have so much energy! Skating around sedately doesn’t do it for them. So the rink staff may try allowing an hourly ten minutes of kids’ ice games, at the beginning of the hour, as an experiment. Staff will still supervise, but with a lighter hand. Feedback from other rink users is encouraged. And adults are allowed to play too, but it’s not clear that they’ll want to.

posted December 10, 2006

Helmets For Shinny Hockey??

In 2002, the “Skating Harmonization Committee” advised the directors of Parks and Recreation to bring in a new mandatory helmet policy for indoor and outdoor arenas. The directors approved the policy, on the basis of general risk.

The policy has not caught on at all rinks. Many shinny hockey players insist that shinny is a unique sport with its own rules and customs. They say it’s a game not played with protective equipment, which is exactly why the players are not allowed to raise the puck or check each other. Many shinny players agree with Don Cherry’s assertion: more protective hockey armour results in more aggression and more injuries, and that’s why they love civilized game of shinny. Certainly the number of injuries during shinny games at Dufferin Rink, since it was rebuilt in 1993, has been very small. And most of those injuries resulted from players catching their skates on rough ice, especially along the sides and in the corners, and hurting a shoulder or a limb. That problem needs better ice maintenance rather than a helmet.

Some of the Dufferin Rink friends have asked the City to revisit the shinny hockey policy. They want the City to adopt some clear principles for their risk-based policies:

1. No new policy without supporting documentation publicly accessible (e.g. ice rink injury numbers, with basic details of circumstances and type of injury, no vague “studies show…”).
2. No new policy without prior, open consultation with those who will be affected.
3. Publicly accessible record-keeping to verify that a new policy has beneficial results as well as restrictions.

These are good guidelines for all risk-based policy making, not often observed – here’s a good place to begin.

So far, supporting documentation is not available from the skating committee. There was no public consultation with shinny players about altering the game, and there is no analysis of shinny injuries that would allow comparison. A freedom of information request turned up only two outdoor ice rink injury claims across the whole city since amalgamation (9 years), but no details on these injuries were provided. And for comparison, although soccer is by far the highest-injury (commonly-played) sport, there was no evidence that soccer risk had resulted in any helmets-for-soccer discussion.

In other words, the case for compulsory shinny hockey helmets has not been made. Back to the drawing board. On Dec.5, CELOS, our local research group hosted a meeting with rink staff and two City supervisors, to get started on this issue. This winter, CELOS researchers will collaborate with rink staff and City supervisors to actually look at the existing data, keep a better record, and consult with shinny players. To help with this task: contact

posted December 10, 2006

First-Ever Meeting Of All Dufferin Rink Staff, Nov.14

City Park staff get so busy with their day-to-day work, that sometimes it’s months or even years between the times when all staff involved with a facility actually sit down at the same table and talk to each other. Because of last February’s rink discord, Councillor Adam Giambrone recently convened a meeting of all the staff who have any role at Dufferin Rink. On-site rink staff had asked for such meeting for years, but their idea was not supported. However, when a Councillor says ”I’m getting too many complaint calls, all relevant staff please come to a meeting” – there’s no choice, City staff have to accept his invitation.

So on Tuesday November 14, the managers of recreation and of city rinks, and the supervisors of recreation, of city rinks and of technical services, and the city rinks foreman and a zamboni driver, and five on-site Dufferin Rink staff, and the city councillor and his assistant, and the rink historian, all gathered for coffee and worked out some new rink procedures. Now it’s time for follow-up.

One of the points that’s still contentious is whether technical services staff, when they come to Dufferin Rink to do their daily check on the compressors, should also say hello to the on-site rink staff and give them a two-minute update on the plant. (Some tech services staff – not all – rarely speak to the on-site rink staff, and may even refuse to respond to a staff question.) Although cordial contact between co-workers is generally thought to be a good idea, the tech services supervisor says his staff are too busy to say hello.

So management at this moment declines to instruct the tech services staff to check in with their on-site co-workers at the rink. Old institutional cultures fade slowly! And Dufferin Rink is a newer model. However, the rink staff are a friendly bunch, and so are a lot of the rink users, so they’ll keep trying.

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