Toronto’s Big Blue ice rink finally reopens

Written by Haddi Rosenthal for CNN Toronto, Canada On spring’s first day, with an April sun shining as warmly as concrete pavement, Igloo Creations (18 Canal Dr., Toronto) serves up lunch in a special…

Toronto's Big Blue ice rink finally reopens

Written by Haddi Rosenthal for CNN Toronto, Canada

On spring’s first day, with an April sun shining as warmly as concrete pavement, Igloo Creations (18 Canal Dr., Toronto) serves up lunch in a special menu adapted for “Big Blue,” Canada’s most northerly community.

Igloo Creations serves up a special menu for Canada’s most northerly community. Credit: Haddi Rosenthal/CNN

Some tables have been banished to each corner of the building, large ones are visible only through the windows, and customers are forced to clear plastic cups of ice from the entrances. Despite a temporary halt in snow removal, the 20th century ice palace that has attracted thousands of visitors since its 1998 opening is showing signs of cracking.

“This year, because of the warm weather, we’ve been able to ease off some of the restrictions on the rink, a lot of which was created in the final couple of years that the skating rink was first really flooded out,” explained spokesperson Maxime Nicoletti.

Here’s what’s still out there. Credit: Haddi Rosenthal/CNN

But while regular guests enjoy a more traditional eating and shopping experience — Igloo Creations calls the ice palace experience its signature custom item, to distinguish it from what’s “here today, gone tomorrow” — other residents of Canada’s “Big Blue” are still taking to the rink to ice skate, play hockey and even survive.

Late last week, the city issued a directive to the general contractor, Corgan Morfin, to remove obstacles from the rink. At a Monday meeting, Toronto Mayor John Tory said “the regulations are important,” because the field should be cleared as soon as it starts to freeze. By Tuesday, Corgan Morfin was shutting off the pumps used to remove accumulated water, and the city released a statement saying the reopening of the rink was back on.

“I have little doubt that the line will remain closed until the winter has ended,” Tory said during the city council meeting.

An update from Corgan Morfin on the developments with the rink. Credit: Haddi Rosenthal/CNN

The rink has been operating on a temporary permit since March 4, when the city’s director of public works said it wouldn’t be available for ice skating until at least the end of April.

New details of the updates to the North York property in recent days reveal that Corgan Morfin and the city have engaged in discussions over the past few weeks to find a way to keep the rink open past that window. The rink is owned by the city, and is operated by the general contractor.

On April 23, Corgan Morfin issued a media release that gave further details on the project. “The process since then has seen most of the work done to the field being removed to conserve the center of the ice arena, while we are able to apply for a new permit to install new struts,” the release reads.

The test sheet and slope chart that were previously submitted to the city. Credit: Haddi Rosenthal/CNN

The Toronto Ice Arena Association (TIAA) also issued a statement, saying that some of its members have applied for a new location, but the organization is happy with Corgan Morfin’s decisions. “The Association is not opposed to the remaining project [though], as the field has been open for four seasons and none of the staff or volunteers has been replaced,” the association said.

The progress of the rink. Credit: Haddi Rosenthal/CNN

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