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City website causing confusion over outdoor skating rink closures

It’s one of the most popular winter activities in Toronto but which of the outdoor city skating rinks are open and which ones are closed? Residents say the answer to that question isn’t always easy to find.

A check of the City’s website on Friday afternoon showed 24 out of the 52 rinks ‘closed’ or ‘closed for the season’. After CityNews reached out to Parks, Forestry and Recreation, changes were made with ‘closed for the season’ removed from several rinks, and replaced with a service alert. By Friday evening, only one rink was listed as closed for the season, while the status of two others were ‘under construction’.

For the last 10 years, Jutta Mason has been running a website referring to itself as the ‘unofficial website for Toronto’s Outdoor skating rinks.’ She says the city’s site has been flawed for years.

“People complain you can’t call the rink and ask if they’re open or closed,” she said. “In 2006 the city switched over the central line, and yet they’re quite often wrong, especially when there’s snowfall or something that might disrupt the rink.”

Mason updates her site with the latest status of the city’s rinks, and also provides resources for residents interested in skating programs. She adds that the city’s website is also updated with inaccurate information.

“For almost an hour, they said all central Toronto rinks were closed, which was just a mistake,” Mason said. “That’s really confusing for people.”

CityNews asked Parks, Forestry and Recreation about the website, and whether or not it was updated with incorrect information. A spokesperson said there was an issue with the web application used to update the status of the City’s outdoor rinks web page. They say the issue has been fixed and it shows only three out of the 52 rinks remained closed as of Friday night.

“The Queensway rink is closed for the season due to construction, Westgrove and Summerlea rinks are closed for mechanical repairs and expected to reopen in mid-January,” said Jaclyn Carlisle. “Service Alerts are noted when there is a lot of snowfall and City crews need time to clear the ice or we experience equipment issues.”

Barring any unforeseen circumstances – including the weather – most of the City’s rinks will remain open until February or March.