Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stop rink waste: Mammoliti

TORONTO - Toronto has more artificial ice rinks than any other city in the world, a feat I am extremely proud of as the Chair of the Community of Development and Recreation.

The 2012 Recommended Operating Budget for Parks, Forestry and Recreation included savings of 0.260 million as a result of closing 10 out of 22 stand-alone arenas during off-peak daytime hours (7AM to 4PM from Monday to Friday) and eliminating 7.5 related positions. However, at City Council on January 17th, 2012 a motion was adopted which ensured our City funds these ice rinks during off-peak hours.

City staff have done research and chose specific rinks for closure for a reason. Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff made it clear that the usage of these ice-rinks during off-peak hours was 8%. Thus, 92% of the time nobody was using these rinks during the hours of 7AM – 4PM. These ice rinks are open from November till March meaning we could have saved $260,000 for 5 months of operation.

On average we spend $52,000 a month to maintain these arenas for 9 hours. The remaining arenas that would remain open during the daytime off-peak hours have sufficient capacity to accommodate the permits that would have been displaced. Councillors’ would not support temporarily closing ice rinks if it was not justified. It just isn’t intelligent, no service or business would open at 7:00AM if they had only three individuals using it, especially when they could save $260,000.

As a consequence, the City of Toronto has been placed in a position in which workers are being sent to sites with no work to do as stated by City staffs’ recommendation to eliminate 7.5 positions. As a result, the City and the taxpayer will bear the brunt of such costs.

Those who supported this motion are clearly in favour of wasting taxpayers’ dollars. It is careless spending such as this which has led us to the current predicament. The cuts had to take place due to unmonitored, uncontrolled and reckless spending. By continuing to fund ice rinks that are under-used some Councillors are exemplifying that they just don’t get it. Reckless spending needs to be stopped.

As Chair of the Ice Rink Infrastructure Task Force I am well versed in the City of Toronto’s needs in regards to great demand for prime time ice. The City is attempting to meet the needs of its diverse citizens, community organizations and associations through providing quality time and facility space. However, the actions, which occurred at City Council adversely impacts Parks, Forestry and Recreation. We will still succeed in meeting the citizens’ demands for prime time ice. I just want to emphasize and raise attention to the issue that our budget was negatively affected.

In the days since this motion was adopted my office has received several calls and e-mails agreeing with my stance on the issue. The citizens of Toronto recognize that unneeded expenses need to be stopped. I hope that citizens contact their Councillor who voted in favour of funding these ice rinks during off-peak hours and make it clear that they wrongfully cost the taxpayers $260,000.

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