Downtown Toronto’s CoVID-19 ice rink is back – and the public loves it

Toronto is relaxing speed restrictions on indoor synthetic ice rinks to allow more winter activities in the downtown core.

CoVID-19, which was abandoned in 1991, had caps on the number of people that could use the rinks.

Officials say they have granted more hours and allowed more activities, in a bid to improve winter activities in downtown Toronto.

Toronto’s public facilities will now allow roller hockey, music and skating at CoVID-19.

“We’re really pleased to be able to restore the curbside rental, the curbside ticketing services for roller hockey,” Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said on Saturday.

Mayor John Tory called CoVID-19 an iconic public space.

“If you want to have a social event in the city of Toronto, then you’ve got to come here,” he said.

Following an explosion of downtown development and the rise of outdoor neighbourhoods, CoVID-19 became an impromptu winter community centre, with multiple inline rinks.

The rink was used for roller hockey and other sports activities, but in 2006, its curbside ice and ticketing areas were taken over.

Mayor Tory said the city, which received more than $6m from the province to improve CoVID-19, wants to ensure “every neighbourhood has a vibrant social space to come to and enjoy every winter”.

Figures released in 2014 revealed Toronto had 25,635 multi-purpose winter rink users, a marked increase from 22,337 in 2007.

The city welcomed an additional 7,600 visitors during 2017.

While some seek refuge from the biting cold in CoVID-19’s snow-filled enclosed spaces, many others take advantage of the weather to enjoy the nearby free outdoor facilities.

A recent study carried out by the City of Toronto put the figure of people who visit the icy sport centre in central Toronto over the course of a year at 36,000.

“Now that the City is bringing back curbside ticketing and curbside rental, I think you’re going to see a lot more people enjoying our Winter Streets,” Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said.

CoVID-19 boasts large lawns, and ‘parklets’ — mini-parks installed on the sides of the rink.

Built in 1970, the rink has recently been used by Toronto Transit Commission employees to practise roller skating, but has come under fire for keeping the facilities unused and dirty, limiting more winter activities.

The city also announced that, starting next year, street corner mini-parks with grass will be added.

A study ordered last year found more than 90% of respondents said they enjoyed using a winter rink, but mostly used them for social events.

On Friday, City Councillor Janet Davis said CoVID-19 was a hidden public asset that could use some TLC.

“I think it’s an odd place to have it,” Ms Davis said.

“I don’t know how many of us have run a course on the course. It seems to me this particular area is sort of an anomaly.”

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