Ford nation must be happy. The gravy train has stopped short at the rink.
If you like to skate outdoors, you now have fewer options.
The City of Toronto has closed most of their outdoor skating rinks, one week shy of March Break.
Mayoralty candidate John Tory says “thats nuts” in the coldest winter in 35 years. He wants the city to review their budget. Only 17 of the city’s 51 rinks remain open today.
So much for #WeareWinter.
It’s the same every year. Rinks are closed at predetermined times just as the city pools shut down at end of August, often in hot and humid weather, offering zero flexibility from budget crunchers who forget we live in Wonky Weather Central. All indicators say wacky weather is only going to get worse. How will our “hockey nation” identity play out with abbreviated seasons for skaters?
I’m not a hockey player, but a writer who needs to emerge from my cave. Benign fuzzy bear I am NOT.
While I love the fluffy snow drifts and haven’t found an equal thrill yet to skiing very fast down a slick slope, I miss light.
We wake in the dark and the few hours of bright light are not enough for sanity. I embrace the season* for its inherent romance and believe it gives us all character- only if we actually step outside.
When I was a kid that was easy. The Jones brothers next door were not a boy band. They did let us invade their back yard rink with our figure-eight loops. My brother and youngest sister were the only ones with hockey sticks.
We then graduated to Nathan Phillips Square which is still a regular winter haunt.
Several winter visits to Winterlude have convinced me that skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is all about the beaver tails which seems reasonable after you show off your fancy gliding.
In Toronto, we have our own trails, a tad shorter than the Canal but trails nevertheless. Writer Marcus Gee spent a day testing all the rinks across the city and I tried out two of his suggestions including Greenwood Park, a winding loop.
My favourite discovery, thanks to Gee’s prompt, was Colonel Sam Smith Park where packs of enthusiastic skaters hit the ice earlier this month on Family Day. The outdoor trail, built in 2010, is 250 metres long and I got to be a kid again, gliding a figure eight that much bigger than the backyard loop.
Both these rinks are still open for others like me who go a little nutty without fresh air, even if it blows a frigid blast. Forget style-my hat may not pass muster with Putin but those Sochi images stirred the skater in me.
See you on the rinks while we still can skate!
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