The first outdoor covered skating rink in Toronto has recently opened in Greenwood Park. Leisure skaters also have an added draw to the new facility: a skating trail rather than a typical rink. According to the rink attendant, both the hockey rink and the skating trail have experienced constant use throughout the season. The updated layout of the rink has taken it from “dark” and “seedy” to “user-friendly.” The city invested about $3.4 million CAD to renew the old skating rink and changing room facilities, plus build the skating trail. Skating on a trail, although not the first in Toronto, is a welcome change to skating in circles on a rink, and allows landscape design – benches and vegetation – that create a welcoming outdoor space. Previously, recreational skaters had to cross the hockey pad during games of shinny hockey (think “pick up” hockey) to reach the leisure skating rink. Now, after leaving the changing room, skaters reach the trail before the hockey rink.
Well into the winter season, skaters of all abilities have tested out the ice. Even in the bitter cold of the polar vortex two local hockey players and members of the Outing Club of East York ventured out for the fresh air and sun. During more typical winter weather, the hockey players, who skate at Greenwood regularly, said the new rink draws enough people for games of shinny hockey with five people on each side, plus substitutes.
Being covered, the ice is sheltered from the heat of the sun as the weather warms, which means the arena can remain open longer than most others in Toronto – so it may only become more popular as the season progresses. But this great facility was not just made for the winter; when the outdoor ice hockey season draws to a close, the ball hockey season begins.
Toronto has a strong record of creating multipurpose facilities depending on the season, with many skating rinks doubling as tennis courts in the summer. At Greenwood, the area’s City Councilor Paula Fletcher has mentioned that the covered rink could even be an event space for a farmers’ market or a summer dance. All it needs this season though, is a hot chocolate stand to warm up after a long skate!
What other examples of multi-season facilities have you encountered or would like to see?
Credits: Images by Lindsay Vanstone. Data linked to sources.