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Local council seeks more outdoor ice rinks in Scarborough, North York

There could be more artificial outdoor ice rinks in Toronto, if Scarborough community council gets its way.

The local council is asking city staff at Parks, Forestry and Recreation to look into building one or two artificial ice rinks in Scarborough and North York per year over the next 10 years.

“In the hopes that every local community in the entire city will get an artificial outdoor skating rink,” said Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker, one of Mayor John Tory’s deputy mayors, adding that the Tuesday’s meeting “was a good step forward.”

“Both Scarborough and North York have fewer artificial ice rink or fewer outdoor rinks and we think people should have equal access across the entire city.”

According to a report presented to community council on Tuesday, only one out of the city’s 52 outdoor rinks is located in Scarborough at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

However, another outdoor rink and loop is in the works for McCowan Park. Scarborough is also home to 16 ice pads, or arenas.

The old City of Toronto has the most with 26, while Etobicoke has 17. Seven are located in North York. Click here to locate an outdoor ice rink in your neighbourhood.

De Baeremaker, who represents Scarborough Centre, pointed out that although Scarborough has a population of over 625,000, it should have more skating rinks.

“Each ward has about 65,000 people, so we’re suggesting that you have on average one outdoor artificial skating rink in every community of about 65,000 people. We think that’s a reasonable goal,” he said.

“Say we have two for argument’s sake — because one is about to be built — we’d be asking for an additional 10 for Scarborough and about an additional 10 for North York.”

He said staff will delve into the issue and say whether it can be done or not, and how much it will cost.

City officials estimate it would cost around $5 million to build an outdoor artificial ice rink and the building to support it, the Toronto Sun reports.

In the interim, Scarborough community council is also requesting staff look into creating outdoor rinks, run by volunteers, at Thomson Park, MacGregor Park and Churchill Heights Park, and ask the Toronto school boards to create “create skating rinks at a minimum of least one school per ward.”

“Everybody can use a skating rink but schools are in the middle of the most communities … that’s where all the kids are. That’s where all the parents go to pick up their kids,” De Baeremaeker said.

“So it would make a lot of sense to say if you’ve got a school with 600 children in it, why don’t you ask the parents to come out and help create an outdoor skating rink right by the school.”

The local council is also requesting Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff to meet with volunteers in the Churchill Heights area “to assist in the creation of a natural ice pad.”

De Baeremaeker said the local council would like to see at least three outdoor volunteer rinks, adding that the city will help them, offer advice and ensure the volunteers have a water supply.

“We don’t send staff to flood the ice every morning and every night. The parents do that for free as volunteers,” he said.

In its recommendations, Scarborough community council also asked city staff to report on the “economic benefit of building one or two new four-pad hockey arenas with associated library, basketball, pool and other community amenities in Scarborough and North York.”

The item will be considered by Toronto council at its meeting on Feb. 10.

With files from Toronto staff