Toronto relaxes COVID-19 rink rules as winter activities move ‘toward normal’
It’s been at least 11 weeks since we last checked on the status of the skating rink in Central Square — at least until the new year.
Back in early February, the City of Toronto announced plans to convert the existing outdoor skating rink at the intersection of King St. W. and Pape St. to a retractable ice skate and skating arena. At that time, the rink’s operators were to get their rink back in operation in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Two months later, the City announced that the rink could proceed with its planned conversion to a skating arena, but cautioned they would need to move forward with the conversion at a pace to meet the necessary construction timeline.
The rink operators took the City’s advice and began planning for the conversion within a few weeks of the City’s announcement, including getting a construction contract to build the arena.
The rink operators, however, were unable to start construction work on the rink from the start, due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
As is the case with many of the municipal buildings and infrastructure projects that are in some way reliant on the city’s infrastructure, such as the Toronto Transit Commission’s SkyTrain and the TTC, it is estimated that the conversion to the skating rink will cost in the range of $50M to $75M. The City would need to commit to a share of the project’s cost and is still searching for potential partners, while continuing to work with the project’s original construction contractor.
In the meantime, the rink operators have asked that the City’s Board of Health consider a COVID-19 health hazard analysis to determine what kind of hazard this conversion would pose to the public, including skaters. The rink would be closed to the public until there is a resolution of the issue, which could take some additional months.
In the meantime, the rink operators will continue to work with the City to continue operating the rink as planned.
The rink is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a