Tay Township cancels 'unsupervised' skating as councillors worry about liability

·2 min read

Tay Township outdoor rinks will remain closed this winter season owing to concerns around unsupervised use.

The decision was made by a committee of council at its recent meeting when council stepped over staff's recommendation of making these facilities available to residents without supervision.

The suggestion was to open the rinks but without change-rooms, washrooms, hockey nets or staffing. Roads/parks staff would continue to do daily maintenance, such as turning on lights at the facility at end of the day and turning them off at midnight. In addition, there'd be signage at the rinks to indicate the type of skating activity that is allowed during the hours.

"How are we going to monitor nighttime use?" asked Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle.

Bryan Anderson, manager of parks, recreation and facility services, said staff wouldn't be able to do any of that.

"If it's raining outside in the middle of winter and there are 13 year olds running around outside, we can't do anything about it," he added. "We will post 'use at your own risk" signage and shinny timings. We would treat it like a playground and there won't be any supervision when they're available for the public."

Coun. Mary Warnock said she had a lot of concerns with an outdoor rink being unsupervised.

"I would like to see all the resources we save from closing outdoor rinks be used to offer skating at the Tay rink," she said. "I would advocate for some public-skating time, not just booked time that you have to pay for.

"It's our ratepayers that are paying for that rink with their tax dollars. After Christmas, when we're not going to get people from out-of-town coming, I think we need to look at some public-skating time. Take that staff to monitor and clean the change rooms at the rink."

Coun. Paul Raymond asked about the limits around the red-zone restrictions.

Anderson said he has asked the health unit for further clarification.

"Indoors, our numbers would be reduced to 10, but I'm asking for clarification on that," he added. "We will be scrambling to figure it all out once that announcement is made."

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com