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< Fresh Start At The Rink November | Problems 2006 | Bio-Toilet Project Winter Protection >

Description: Hard work to get a rink planning meeting going; eventually required councillor's office to get involved; all issues were reviewed.
Status: Closed
Opened: November 4, 2006

posted Nov.4 2006

Fresh Start Rink Meeting

From Jutta Mason to Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Sept.13 2006

It's getting cooler out and it's time to think about the rink. Last year there were some problems that led to a meeting to discuss setting up the city rinks under boards of management. The jury is still out on that one, but it would be good to talk about starting over, this year. There were some health and safety issues that still need to be addressed. (The new asphalt path connecting the two rink pads externally should go a long way here.) There were ice maintenance issues (thickness), and there were communication issues (staff prohibited from speaking directly to other staff).

There were policy issues as well, and then -- as always -- there were the problems that come from overcrowding. That issue may be even worse this year if neither Harry Gairey nor Wallace are open until January. As you know, December is our biggest crowd. On year we had a near-riot at the end of November because the rink was so jammed with youth who could find no other rink to play shinny in.

I think your excellent staff can handle anything as long as there's good, direct, open communication going all ways. But at this point rink friends have begun to contact me and ask questions. Could a few of us have a meeting with the new rink manager and you and a few of your staff and have a good "fresh start" conversation about the recreation side of running the rink this year?

I'd like to suggest that soon would be good: maybe in a week or two?

Response from Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro to Jutta Mason, Sept.13 2006

I will try to set something up as soon as possible.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Sept.20

Hi Tino, has there been any response to this e-mail? Would it be better to ask the Councillor to encourage this meeting? Or the Recreation manager?

from Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro to Jutta Mason, Sept.21 2006

I hear that the Park Supervisor overseeing the rinks will be in place by the end of the week. Please wait till Tuesday of next week, a which point I hope to have a time and date for the meeting. It may be good to come up with a list of concerns, that can be circulated before the meeting. I will keep you posted.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Sept.21

It's the rink manager we were hoping to meet with.

Is there an opening date?

List of concerns: see below.

from Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro to Jutta Mason, Sept.21 2006

I will pass your email onto Kevin, the rink manager.

from Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro to Jutta Mason, Sept.22 2006

the opening date is Dec. 2. To summarize the concerns; -health and safety issues -ice maintenance issues (thickness), -communication issues (staff prohibited from speaking directly to other staff). -policy issues -problems that come from overcrowding

From Jutta Mason to Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, Sept.28 2006

It's been two weeks since I inquired about having a meeting with Kevin Bowser. Has there been a response to this?

In order for the outdoor rinks to be used to their potential, some serious ice maintenance problems need to be addressed. Last year the rink operators reacted very negatively to any questioning of their ice maintenance practices. Most were adamant that the thicker the ice is, the better. However, this summer I got written confirmation from the president of CIMCO that the ice thickness we measured was unacceptable. And yesterday the City's Arenas Energy Retrofit Project Coordinator also said that the ice thickness must be less than last year. In my opinion the problems were caused by much more than the weather or staff shortage. The ice maintenance protocol is one of the things I am hoping can be discussed with your new rink manager. This is both a training and a supervision issue, and the sooner it can be worked out, the better. (And the sooner ice maintenance is brought back to a good level, the happier I will be to butt out and stop my unsolicited, unpaid monitoring.)

I am hoping that you can forward this e-mail to the new rink manager and that he can say yes or no about a meeting. It would be so nice to start fresh after last year's February fiasco. Maybe this is the year the rink can be collegial, lively, fun, the way rinks are meant to be.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, Oct.3 2006

I need your help -- I have been trying for over a month to meet with the new City rinks manager, Kevin Bowser. He does not respond. You may remember that at the end of last season the rink situation had become somewhat untenable and I think it's important to start fresh. But if people won't talk, that can't happen.

Rink users have begun contacting me and our rinks web pages have taken a big usage jump already. We need to find out what Kevin Bowser intends to do to make the rinks run better, including ours. He needs to hear our concerns. Could you call Paul Ronan, the Parks Director, and see if he can get Kevin to meet with a few of us rink friends here? If you could broker that meeting, it would be a big help.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone to Jutta Mason, Oct.5 2006

We'll call Kevin and Paul and see what we can do. Does it matter what day or time of day we set something up for?

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, Oct.9 2006

I don't know if you've been able to get hold of Mr.Ronan or Mr.Bowser yet. Here are the two big rink issues:

1. the very bad situation during the latter part of last rink season. A few rink user representatives and staff would like to have a talk with the new rink manager, to make a fresh start this year. Here are the two relevant editorials from last year's newsletters, for Mr.Bowser to read, if he would like to catch up:

The second editorial also addresses the difficulty of getting political help for this bad situation. Thankfully, the "board of management" community meeting last February resulted in Adam stepping up to support the rink friends. A good start, but now we need the follow-up. There is a rink friends' meeting on Tuesday and it would be helpful if I could tell them a yes or no, re Mr.Bowser's willingness to meet with us. It would be very helpful if you came too.

2. The sudden disappearance of the header trench repair. I'm hoping that this means the repair was not urgent in the first place and can be postponed until spring, but we need to know for sure, please.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone to Jutta Mason, Oct.10 2006

At this point what you can tell them is that Councillor Giambrone thinks it would be a good idea to have such a meeting to start this year's rink season off on the right footing. Adam can commit to attending such a meeting or sending one of his staff in his place depending on scheduling issues. We have left messages with Mr. Bowser and Mr. Ronan to get something organized and we are waiting to hear back from them.

From ten rink permit holder to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, Oct.11 2006

Dear Councillor Giambrone,

We would like to ask you to arrange a Dufferin Rink meeting with staff and a few very involved rink users. We feel it's essential that the new manager responsible for rinks, Kevin Bowser, and the new manager of Recreation staff, Kelvin Seouw, take part in a discussion about the very problematic situation of last year's rink season and find a good way to make a fresh start. We would need the supervisor of on-site staff and the supervisor of rink maintenance to be there too, as well as a representative from technical services who can speak to ice thickness as it affects the compressors.

Please ask one of your staff to be present at the meeting as well. The sooner that this meeting takes place, the better; hopefully within the next three weeks, since the rink is opening for the season in seven weeks, and there needs to be some lead time.

This is not a request for a public meeting. The Star have said they are interested but it would be quite a bit better to have a smaller discussion and see if we have a good story to tell during a successful rink season.

(You will receive the signed version of this letter on Thursday -- 10 signatures of permit holders)

From Chris Gallop, assistant to City Councillor Adam Giambrone to City rinks manager Kevin Bowser, Oct.11 2006

Below is a copy of the request that came from the Dufferin rink community for a meeting. They've included a list of staff that they think should be there. As I mentioned on the phone, this isn't really a public meeting, the idea is more to open the lines of communication among the key staff people. A few active rink users would like to attend as well to explain to staff what they saw as the problems that arose last year so they we can brainstorm together about ways to avoid those same problems this year. Someone from our office would also attend, probably me.

The Councillor would like this meeting to be organized for the first week of November, i.e. the first week you are back from vacation. Please have one of your staff take charge of organizing the meeting during your absence. I suggest that meeting at the rink house makes the most sense. Please also update me regularly on where things are on this and if any problems come up.

Thanks for your help.

From City Rinks manager Kevin Bowser to City Rinks supervisor Brian Green and City recreation manager Kelvin Seouw, Oct.12 2006

Per the attached, I will try to set up a meeting in early November. Kelvin, please let me know the Recreation contact. Brian, the Councillor's office has suggested meeting at the rink house. When a date has been set, could you arrange to book room?

From the assistant of City recreation manager Kelvin Seouw to the assistant of City rinks manager Kevin Bowser, Oct.12 2006

Kelvin is not available on those dates; however, Tino Decastro, our supervisor for Ward 18 will be able to attend.

Please continue copying Kelvin for his info.

From Dorothy Dickson, administrative assistant to City Rinks manager Kevin Bowser, to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro, Oct. 25 2006

Kevin is presently on vacation and will be back on Monday, October 30th.

Per Jutta's Mason's request, Kevin asked me to schedule a meeting on Tuesday, November 7th at 1:00 p.m. I understand Brian Green, you and Kevin will be at the meeting. Could you please book meeting room at Dufferin Grove and confirm. Thank you so much for your assistance.

From Jutta Mason to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro, Oct.25 2006

This meeting needs Kelvin Seouw at it also, and Councillor Giambrone. I gather that the councillor is asking Brenda Librecz to help get everyone to the table.

Of course, the other essential piece is the senior on-site rink staff. If we can all be in one room, hopefully there will be a fresh start after last year's problems.

I'm hoping to hear tomorrow whether Nov.7 works for those two gentlemen also, or if the meeting needs to be rescheduled.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Librecz, Oct,26 2006

Regarding the meeting we have been trying to get organized to discuss operations at Dufferin Grove rink, it has come to our attention that Kelvin Seow is away on vacation on the week of Nov. 7th. Councillor Giambrone thinks that it is very important that he be able to attend this meeting.

We are therefore asking that the meeting be rescheduled to Tuesday Nov. 14th, sometime between 9:30 am and 2:00 pm, at the Dufferin Grove rink house, so that all the key staff people can attend.

Councillor Giambrone asks that you and your assistant help us get this meeting scheduled and organized so that all the key people can be there. We ask that people rearrange their schedules as needed so they can attend because we have been trying to get this organized for several weeks now and all the scheduling conflicts are getting very frustrating.

It would be unwise to postpone this meeting even further than Nov. 14th because the opening of the rink season is coming upon us very quickly.

From Linda Demacio, Administrative Assistant to Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Librecz, to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Oct.26 2006

We will ensure that you and Brenda speak should there be any problems. We're just waiting to hear when this meeting becomes finalized; hopefully to the new date, Nov. 14, as per your request.

from Jutta Mason to Chis Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Nov.7 2006

The pre-season rink meeting at Dufferin Rink is getting closer (see below). It will be staff only except for me, and my role there is mainly as the history reference, since I have been involved with the rink for so long -- since it was rebuilt in 1993.

But I note that there is no one there from tech services, which looks after the machinery that actually makes the rink work. Ann Ball recently told me: make sure all the people are at the table if you want things to work. I know that Councillor Giambrone wants this meeting to succeed. So I'm asking if you could put out an S.O.S. to Brenda to ask her tech services manager (also new?) and the tech services supervisor to juggle their schedules so they could be there too?

General minutes sent out for Nov.14 "fresh start" rink meeting, witten by Jutta Mason, Nov.22 2006

Present: -- on-site rink staff Lea Ambros, Corey Chivers, Dan Watson, Amy Withers, Mayssan Shuja, Anna Bekerman; Councillor Adam Giambrone, councillor's assistant Kevin Beaulieu, City Rinks manager Kevin Bowser, City Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Property and Technical Services supervisor Dominic Fantauzzi, Technical Services foreman Dave Dermott, west rinks supervisor Brian Green, Maintenance foreman Roman Andryjowycz, City recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, zamboni operator Roger Doble, rink historian Jutta Mason.

Subject of the meeting: how to start over after last year's rink troubles, and how to make the rink work well.


(a)check-in/check-out: It was agreed that any City technical or ice maintenance staff coming to do work at Dufferin Rink will check in with on-site staff every time when they come to the rink, and let them know what they intend to do, and then check out every time prior to leaving the rink, to notify on-site staff of what they've done and any problems (e.g. compressor problems, zamboni problems).

If the City Ice Maintenance or Tech Services staff neglect to make these brief check-in/check-out reports, on-site rink staff will contact their supervisor Tino DeCastro, who will contact the relevant supervisor, so the oversight can be fixed. In the case of zamboni drivers, this would be Brian Green, in the case of tech services staff, this would be Dominic Fantauzzi. If it continues to be a problem, Tino DeCastro will contact his manager, Kelvin Seow, who will then follow up with Kevin Bowser.

(b) Gender divisions: Zamboni driver Roger Doble mentioned the undeniable fact that a few City zamboni drivers find it uncomfortable to have a check-in/check-out contact with female rink staff, to communicate their work plans/results. However, itís against city policy to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or creed. So gender-related discomfort will not be accepted as a valid reason to skip the face-to-face check-in when the City zamboni driver or technical staff arrives at the rink, before they begin work, and a check-out report before they leave the rink.

(c) Ice maintenance: The on-site rink staff may pass along rink user concerns about ice quality (e.g. rough corners, gouges, excessive snow on ice due to many skaters) to the zamboni staff. The on-site rink staff may also pass along ice maintenance issues to their own supervisor (Tino Decastro), who will then communicate these issues to the ice maintenance supervisor (Brian Green). Brian Green will then inform his zamboni drivers whether they need to take action on the complaint.

Zamboni drivers take ice maintenance direction only from Brian Green or his alternate, if he is not available. However, in the case of a program-shortening or interruption by a zamboni driver during normal weather conditions, on-site staff may point out the posted schedule to the zamboni driver and encourage him to stick to it.

In the case of any maintenance issue influenced by bad weather, compressor problems, or zamboni shortages, on-site rink staff will try to communicate the problem to rink users as clearly as possible, to minimize rink usersí frustration and keep them well-informed. This communication will be assisted by the new policy of check-in/check out.

(d) Follow-up: If rink user complaints about ice maintenance persist, they will be directed to either take this up with Tino DeCastro, or with Councillor Adam Giambrone's office, as they choose. The Councillor's assistant will then call the Parks Director Paul Ronan, who will call Kevin Bowser, who will call Brian Green, who will inform his zamboni drivers whether they need to take action on the second request.

(e) Delays: When a zamboni driver is unable to clean the ice at the scheduled time, he will call the rink before or at the scheduled time (not after), and let the on-site staff know about the hold-up, the reason, and the approximate time of arrival. The exception is during bad weather, when the rink supervisors will try to keep Dufferin Rink staff informed about progress of snowploughs, order of digging out, etc.

(f)Telephone information: For the past three years, the Dufferin Rink phone number has been on the City's rink information line, to give citywide rink users (and often on-site rink staff at other rinks) updates during bad-weather periods when the rinks may be closed, and again right afterwards, when the rinks are resuming operation. In order for this popular (and no-cost) service to work well, rink manager Kevin Bowser will need to ask citywide rink staff to cooperate with Dufferin Rink staff when they seek information during bad-weather periods.

(f) Injury: When there is an injury, on-site staff will fill out an injury report and send it to Tino DeCastro, who may then pass the report to Brian Green, who can then ascertain if poor ice may have been a contributing factor to the injury (e.g. rough sides causing a crash into the boards). On-site staff must chart ice conditions in their log book.


a) Scheduling: Ice maintenance supervisor Brian Green will meet at Dufferin Rink with Roger, Dexter, the on-site rink staff and their supervisor Tino DeCastro, on Nov.24, to work out the ice maintenance schedule for Dufferin Rink. Tino and Dexter will alert the meeting about any conflicts with the needs of Wallace Rink, so that the schedule works for both rinks.

The schedule will include a weekly "deep maintenance session" lasting three hours, for each of the two rinks. At Dufferin Rink this session will be every Monday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and the rink will stay closed during that time. On-site rink staff will prepare and distribute a flyer for all schools in the area, to inform them of this year's rinks schedules at both Dufferin Rink and Wallace Rink, times when the rink is closed, and important rink phone numbers.

(b) Ice quality standards: The ice at both Dufferin and Wallace Rinks will be substantially thinner than last year, aiming for one-and-a-half to two inches (the City Hall standard). Since this may mean less frequent flooding, the zamboni cutting blade will have to be changed twice a week (City Hall and Harbourfront standard). At the meeting, Brian Green and others stated that there is not enough money in the rink budget to sharpen the zamboni blade twice a week. Therefore, Dufferin Rink users will take a weekly collection for blade sharpening to do it twice a week -- so the ice can meet the Harbourfront/City Hall standard.

Brian Green will be asked to find out from Chris Chiaravallotti how much needs to be collected to cover this essential technical service.

The timing of maintaining corners and edges was not discussed, but a standard will be requested.

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