Non-Toronto residents no longer able to reserve skating spots on city rinks
People go for a New Years Day skate at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- Residents living outside of Toronto will soon not be able reserve a spot to skate on one of the city’s rinks.
Speaking on Wednesday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city had received complaints from residents who felt it was “unfair” that people living outside the City of Toronto were able to reserve a spot on the outdoor ice rinks.
“Certainly, I’ll say first preference and exclusive preference to the reservation system should go to residents of the city, and so that’s what we’re doing,” Tory said
City officials confirmed that as of Feb. 3, non-Toronto residents will no longer be able to reserve a spot to go skating.
More than 735,000 online reservations have been made since the city’s 54 outdoor rinks opened in late-November. Officials say that about 2.5 per cent of those reservations were made by people outside of Toronto.
While there will be new restrictions on reservations, the city says that anyone can use a walk-in space at a Toronto rink if a spot is available. Phone numbers will be collected to ensure contact tracing can be done in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, but addresses will not be checked.
During any other year, registration for one of Toronto’s skating programs was limited to city residents for the first 10 days before opening spaces up to those living outside of the city.
Officials also said that they have received complaints of people skating on the rinks outside the allotted hours in the early morning and late evening. The majority of the people skating are youth, officials said, which means that officers cannot ticket them as they are not allowed to fine people under the age of 18.
Staff urged skaters to follow the rules and, if asked to leave the rink, to do so.
While the City of Vaughan has opted to its outdoor skating rinks earlier this month following the province’s stay-at-home order, the rest of the Greater Toronto Area has not.
Under the stay-at-home order, residents must stay inside their homes unless they need to leave for essential reasons. The government then provided a list of 33 exemptions, or activities that would be considered essential under the order.
One of the exemptions was for exercise, or “walking or moving around outdoors.”