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Greenwood Rink Workbook

1. Hours of operation, program improvements, job responsibilities

Ten principles: details


1. Clearly defined boundaries:

Individuals or households who have the rights to use the common resources [in this case, Greenwood Rink] must be clearly defined.

On January 5, 2010, Sally Bliss e-mailed an invitation to get involved in rink improvements, to 34 people whose addresses she had. She got __ responses, all from her own rink-using friends. This was her first attempt to find out who regards themselves as in some way responsible for how the rink operates.

On January 7, 2010, Sally got an e-mail from Connie Harding, a leader of the FROG group (Friends of Greenwood Park). Connie forwarded Sally her most recent report, from October 26 2009, bringing her up to date on the activities of the group. At that point, the rink was not really a focus for FROG.

2. User rules match local circumstances:

Rules about using a rink must relate to local circumstances in the individual rinks.

On January 11, 2010, rink user Deborah Day arranged to get together for coffee with Sally Bliss and Jutta Mason. Deborah and Sally wanted to have a campfire at the side of the rink on the last Friday night of January. Deborah and her friends had a long-standing arrangement of getting together with their families at Greenwood Rink on Fridays, and Deb wanted to build on that. They resolved to meet with a Dufferin Grove campfire staff person in two days, at Greenwood Rink, to check out the suitability of the site.

3. Collective choice arrangements:

Most of the people affected by the rules must be able to participate in modifying the original rules.

Sally: anxiety about how much time she has to put into improving Greenwood: "I find that my kids and household take up almost all my time. Hoping, in a way, that someone else will step up to the plate…But we’ll see. I just have to be careful."

On January 10, 2010, Camilla Hutton sent in specific suggestions on how to improve Greenwood Rink. She sent them as a response to questions on the cityrinks.ca poster. The implication was that her suggestions would get a hearing, at least from cityrinks.ca -- and maybe that they would be passed along to rink management.

Camilla asked for staff's encouragement to collaborate: "Let the community know what we can do. Most of us would be more than happy to help out."

Camilla asked: "Are there no resources at city rinks for things like skating trainers [i.e. frames or chairs]for toddlers? This would be a great addition...Couldn't rinks be opened up earlier in the morning? Most families start their day well before 10am."

Camilla also asked: "Bring a more community feel into the clubhouses - bulletin boards, maybe even a buy/sell old equip board, having schedules available, keeping notices up to date..."

4. Monitoring:

Monitors, who actively audit rink conditions and appropriate behaviour, must be accountable to the rink users or must be the rink users.

On January 10, 2010, rink user Camilla Sutton showed that she had been monitoring the rink conditions: "Staff at many rinks seem fairly young and most don't really seem to have any vested interest in making people feel welcomed."

Camilla noted that the rink was without rink attendants on January 1, but that rink users still had access to skating, which she said was "wonderful."

Camilla pointed to the lack of sufficient monitoring by staff: "Some change rooms are intimidating at night. For instance Kew Beach and Jimmie Simpson, seem somewhat remote with little monitoring by city staff. It would be nice to have a few benches placed within the rubber mats outside; so that getting changed didn't have to involve using the intimidating change rooms. Better yet, add lighting to the change rooms, have them monitored regularly, make them feel safe."

Camilla also pointed out that staff did not supply enough current skating schedules, nor were they "keeping notices up to date (does anyone at Greenwood care that swimming in 2009 started on June 8th?? Seriously how many times have City staff walked by this poster?)"

On January 12, 2010, Sally Bliss wrote an e-mail to City Councillor Paula Fletcher. It took the form of a request for information, but it was actually a heads-up (to whoever might be "where the buck stops"), i.e. an instance of monitoring, showing that there were some problems with the Greenwood Rink hours:

"To whom it may concern,
I’d like to meet some neighbours and take our young children pleasure skating at Greenwood rink this weekend. I’m confused about the actual hours versus those posted in the schedule.
The schedule says that pleasure skating is from 11am-5:30pm on Sunday but I asked the rink attendant last night and she thought that it was really open from 9am-10pm. Also, weekday pleasure skating reads 1-10pm. Is there no access earlier? She thought that the rink might be open but not the building. This is important to know because if that’s the case, there’s no place to sit outside to change into skates. And people get cold.
I’d love for someone to please clarify before making the effort of bundling up a toddler for skating this weekend."

5. Sanctions:

Rink users [including on-site staff not doing their work] who violate the operational rules must be likely to be sanctioned.

On January 10, 2010, rink user Camilla Sutton followed up her monitoring of rink staff shortcomings by making specific suggestions that would in turn be easy to monitor for results: "Get [on-site rink staff] involved! Get them helping the little ones to skate; or teaching short clinics or doing something!"

From Camilla: "Rules should be enforced. Women's shinny should be women's shinny. As soon as it becomes mixed, it speeds up the game, which more novice players find intimidating."

"Rules should be enforced or removed. It is frustrating to force my kid into a helmet only to see half the kids on the rink are not wearing them."

6. Conflict resolution

Rink users need rapid access to low cost forums to resolve differences:

On January 12, 2010, Jutta Mason went to a previously scheduled meeting about citywide rink issues with Andy Koropeski, the acting Parks director. She mentioned the unusual limitations on rink hours at Greenwood. Koropeski seemed surprised, and said he'd follow up, with the aim of changing the opening times to 9 a.m. seven days a week, like at other rinks, by Thursday. Jutta also forwarded Sally's e-mail to him (see #4). But then he disappeared from the issue.

Instead, on January 13, 2010, Sally Bliss got a remarkable e-mail from Recreation supervisor Mike Ellison, saying the building would remain closed until 1 pm six days a week. "We are not able to leave to building open and unsupervised for safety and security reasons." The rest of the e-mail said that "customer service" would be continuously improved and "participant input" was welcomed. This generality failed to mask the fact that Sally had been told NO, Greenwood Rink would NOT open at the same time as other rinks.

After 13 more e-mails, all of them carbon copied to the city councillor, the new Recreation Manager Kelvin Seow wrote to Sally: "the Recreation Supervisor has been reviewing the building staff schedule with the goal of having an earlier daily opening. The building will open at 9 am beginning on Tuesday, January 26th."

The adjudicator in this case seems to have been the city councillor, Paula Fletcher. It still took all those e-mails and more than two weeks (of only nine weeks of rink season remaining). However, there was a forum for adjudication.

7. Recognition of the right to adapt rules to local circumstances:

City management must not challenge the rights of rink users to develop operating rules to fit local circumstances, nor must management challenge the right to adapt the rules as local circumstances change.

Sally found out that the rink was to stay closed on January 1 2010. That was a citywide decision. Who knows how to change that for any individual rink?

8. Local institution and city are nested enterprises:

9. Continuous access to detailed information:

10. Straightforward behaviour:

Greenwood Rink Source Material

Content last modified on May 24, 2011, at 03:52 AM EST