As you may have heard in the news, the City has stopped monitoring the ice on Grenadier Pond. For the last couple of years the City ran this program to advise people of the degree of risk of skating on the Pond. The decision to stop the program was made during the 2019 budget, shortly after the last election. City staff did not highlight the change and Council was not aware of it when we approved the budget.
Many people skate on ice that forms over open water at locations across the city. The City does not permit this, it is unsafe. We have studied it closely and find we cannot offer safe skating. Four years ago Council directed staff to try to provide safer skating at Grenadier Pond. We found that the program was not successful for two reasons: cost and safety.
In each of the two full years of operation (2017 and 2018) there were 17 days when the ice was rated “skate at your own risk”. The rest were rated “dangerous”. There are no circumstances where the ice would be rated “safe”. The program cost $166,000 per year. In other words each “skate at your own risk” day cost approximately $10,000, making it by far the most expensive skating program in the City.
Further, skaters on the pond regularly did not stay within the monitored area, and put themselves at risk of personal injury due to thin and/or uneven ice.
Given the extraordinary cost and the fact that people were still in danger, I am forced to agree with staff that the program should be discontinued.
I want to say a word about the process. I have told City staff in no uncertain terms that this is not the way decisions to cancel a public service should be taken. You and I should have been presented with staff’s reasoning and given a chance to discuss it together.
Going forward, I must encourage you not to skate on Grenadier Pond. Toronto offers many places to skate indoors and outdoors. Several outdoor options are near Grenadier Pond, including High Park, Rennie and Sorauren Park. More information about city rinks, including service alerts, hours and location, can be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/data/parks/prd/facilities/outdoor-rinks/index.html