4 years to repair an ice rink? Rexdale Community Councilor Roasts Town For “Dragging His Feet”


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City parks staff attack residents, school officials and city councilors for shutting down a neighborhood ice rink for repairs – for four years.

The city closed the Rivercrest artificial ice rink in Rexdale in 2018 to repair its refrigeration equipment. But what started as a simple leak led to the discovery of other problems, according to a staff report just presented to the Etobicoke Community Council.

Eventually, the decision was made to spend the expected $ 1.8 million to upgrade the ice rink, which was built in the 1970s. The design “went as usual,” according to a report from parks staff. town, but no contractor has yet been hired to do the work. The June 4 report says the facility is unlikely to open until 2022.

“It’s totally bureaucratic and dragging its feet, as far as I’m concerned,” said Sandra Albert, a resident of the area. “I wish they would hurry a bit, because it’s so important to our region.”

Sandra Albert, a longtime Rexdale resident, says the Rivercrest Rink is a vital part of her community and needs to be back in service as soon as possible. (Greg Bruce / CBC)

The report came after a request from the Council. Michael Ford, who represents the area along with the rest of Ward 1, Etobicoke North. He said the long rink closure is “incredibly frustrating. I still have respect for the city staff, but on this file I’m less than unhappy with it.”

The principal of Rivercrest Junior School, where the rink is located, also criticized the delay, saying in a statement to CBC Toronto that the rink “has … provided much needed recreation in an area where recreational facilities are scarce and in a community where the average household income is $ 33,000, there are few who can access programs that have a cost and / or access programs is a challenge. “

Director Aldona Volunge said some residents are wondering if the rink would have been repaired faster if it hadn’t been for Rexdale.

The Rivercrest man-made ice rink, located on TDSB grounds but operated by the city, is a busy spot most winters but has been out of service since 2018. It is not expected to reopen until 2022 at the earliest. (City of Toronto)

“Residents here firmly believe that if it were a well-off community like Kingsway, Humber Valley and other areas, it would be unthinkable to close an ice rink that has been established and well used for so long to last. more than two years now.

“North Etobicoke has remained neglected and under-resourced as the high rate of COVID cases has [highlighted] recently. If the area and the rink had sufficient resources there would also be benches for changing and toilets as minimum standards, the rink would open a little earlier and stay open during the spring break as there is a high demand for that. The community wants the rink open for the coming season, it has been closed for far too long! “

The source of most of the problems at the Riivercrest rink is this refrigeration room, which apparently needs upgrading. Repairs are not expected to be completed until 2022. (Tina MacKenzie / CBC)

City staff would not comment directly to CBC Toronto, but in their June 4 report, parks, forestry and recreation staff attribute the delays to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff turnover, escalating repair needs and slow negotiations with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), which leases the property on which the rink sits to the city.

The report states that a contractor cannot be awarded the project until the lease with the TDSB is signed, and that is not expected to happen until the fall.

“At the moment, the feasibility of completing construction before the 2021-2022 season (by early December) is unlikely,” the report said.

“Staff will examine the feasibility of moving the project forward to provide access to the [artificial ice rink] early in 2022, but it depends on whether there are any major issues / delays during construction. “

Natural ice this winter?

Meanwhile, Ford said he plans to open the rink as a natural ice surface this winter.

“I think there was some foot drag, I think there was red tape that blocked this project,” he said.

“But what I’m most angry about is when residents contact me, it’s my job and my responsibility to give them an answer – I have to rely on the city to make sure that the information that they give me… are correct. and they couldn’t. “

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