City of Toronto’s Natural Ice Rink program helps residents stay active this winter

News Release

March 5, 2021

City of Toronto’s Natural Ice Rink program helps residents stay active this winter

As part of its Welcome T.O. Winter parks plan this season, the City of Toronto worked closely with community groups to facilitate 46 natural ice rinks in parks across the city. Every winter, residents build and maintain natural rinks on parkland, providing a family-friendly and safe recreation activity in parks across Toronto.

This winter, the City worked closely with Toronto Public Health to develop guidelines for natural ice rinks intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, including signage developed and installed at rinks to remind skaters of physical distancing and mask wearing. The application deadline for natural rinks was also extended to facilitate greater access to safe outdoor recreation opportunities.

City staff support the volunteer community groups who build and maintain the rinks with access to water, shovels and lighting, as well as instructions on ice preparation and maintenance. Natural ice rink applications are approved based on criteria that includes winter water access, a storage facility onsite and adequate drainage.

Toronto-based director Kelsey Larkin created a short video about the natural ice rink at Dovercourt Park, which documents the efforts of community volunteers and City employees. Larkin is a commercial director at production company Skin and Bones. The video is available for viewing at https://youtu.be/cZx4DoyCQ6E and will be shared through the City’s social media channels.

Natural ice rinks are generally open each year between January and March, weather permitting.

More information about the City of Toronto’s natural ice rink program, including health guidelines, signage and locations is available at https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/skating-winter-sports/public-leisure-skating/natural-ice-rinks/.

The City’s Welcome T.O. Winter parks plan has provided Torontonians with safe opportunities for outdoor recreation this winter. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/welcome-to-winter/.

Quotes

“Thank you to all of the community volunteers who have donated their time to help make these natural ice rinks possible across our city this year. The City is proud to support this program each winter. This year, these spaces were even more important due to the ongoing pandemic and the need for safe outdoor recreation spaces for people. I’m glad we’re able to share Toronto-based director Kelsey Larkin’s video of the natural ice rink at Dovercourt Park to celebrate the work of volunteers and to show the important impact of these rinks.”

– Mayor John Tory

“The Natural Ice Rinks Program is more popular than ever this winter during the pandemic lockdown. We’re thankful for our community volunteers and Parks staff who make these rinks possible to provide safe recreational opportunities for everyone.”

– Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão (Davenport)

“Volunteers are the backbone of the natural ice rink program at the City. A big thank you to the community volunteers and City employees who helped make the program such a success this year. These 46 rinks have provided a safe way for residents to stay active throughout lockdown this winter.”

– Jennifer McKelvie, Councillor (Scarborough-Rouge Park); Chair, Infrastructure and Environment Committee

“I wanted to promote the good work done by our volunteers this winter. The Dovercourt Park ice rink provides residents a sense of community and brought neighbours together who wouldn’t otherwise get to know one another. It was a much-needed escape during the colder months of lockdown. The rink would not be possible without the dedication of our community volunteers.”
– Kelsey Larkin, Director, Skin and Bones