Winter activities are a beautiful thing, not only relegated to the realm of childhood memories of uninhibited fun. You don’t have to be 10 years old to love making snowmen or sledding in –below zero conditions. Embracing the winter season, snowstorms and weather warnings included, is an important part of being Canadian. We’ve got the snow; we might as well enjoy it, right?
It’s a great thing then, that the city has a ton of outdoor skating rinks for all of you winter enthusiasts. Of course, the first one that comes to mind is most likely Nathan Phillips’ Square. But with the overcrowding, you might as well be running around Union Station at rush hour.
Another ideal skating rink, a seemingly hidden gem in Toronto, is located at College Park. Situated just southwest of Yonge and College, it’s nestled behind office towers and shopping buildings. Out ofsight from the downtown bustle, the sunken round rink at College Park is perfect for a suburban-like getaway. Not only is it discreet, it’s also surrounded by landscaping, and features a beautifully designed change house with windows, lockers, and clean bathrooms. The small rink is even equipped with a zamboni. Or at least, it was.
The rink is currently closed, and has been for quite some time, because of Aura condo construction to the south. Due to lengthy and consistent neglect, the city now has plans for a $3 million renovation of College Park; a complete renewal and reconstruction.
Current problems at the park are ubiquitous. The rink changing area has been obviously uncared for- with peeling paint, scuffed plastic window panes and has thus become continually decrepit over time. Although there is generally one building attendant on staff, the rink is always open and with no fence, it’s often unsupervised and somewhat abandoned. Small weeds and plants have begun to sprout between cracks in the pavement and have sprung up in the building’s eaves troughs. All throughout the park, grass is unkempt and the ground is bare.
In response, the City and the company behind Aura Condos, Canderel Stoneridge, have teamed up to make College Park a better place for the community.
If it’s kept, the rink, which drew about 1,200 people in the 2011-12 season, would most likely be completely rebuilt in a different location in the park. Plans also include a water feature, though it may not be the large pond that’s currently there.
And instead of large swaths of lawn, the city is looking to make the park more robust and easier to maintain by adding trees and shrubs as well as ground cover that is raised up and separate from pedestrian pathways.
So why has it come to a $3 million renewal? With such a great location, how could neglect have gone on so long? Well, because it’s been well used as a staging area and as a construction area for the Aura Condominium. It’s also been overlooked because its location makes it difficult to survey by both police and city park staff. Also, the existing park (approximately 0.75 hectares) originally constructed on top of a parking garage in the mid-1980s. It’s difficult to re-build when the foundations are on top of a garage! But that isn’t stopping renewal from happening anymore.
The plan for renewal at College Park outlines the following goals:
- Make College Park a welcoming, healthy, beautiful and safe environment
- Improve the spatial design of the park to accommodate changing patterns of use and accommodate a higher number of park users
- Improve the visibility of the park from outside the city block
- Create a park that is more environmentally sustainable and easier to maintain
- Stimulate community stewardship and partnerships with adjacent businesses, residents, community groups and other stakeholders
Have no fear, even though College Park skating rink is closed, there are plenty of other rinks to enjoy in Toronto. Here’s a short list of some of our favourites. Chances are there’s one near you!
- Sherbourne Common
- Lake Devo
- Colonel Sam Smith park
- Campbell Park
- Christie Pits
- Brick Works Ice Trail
- Kew Gardens
- Trinity Bellwoods
- High park
- Dufferin Grove
- Wallace Emerson
Want to have some more post-skating fun? Throw a get together with friends to enjoy a warm drink and home-made food after a long night on the rink.
So without further ado, plan your next post-skating party with these helpful tips and recipes:
Home-Made Hot Chocolate
- Slices of fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
- Splash of rum (optional)
Simmer a few slices of fresh ginger in milk until gently infused, about 3-5 minutes. Mix cocoa powder and granulated sugar together (about 1 tbsp of each) in a mug, then strain in the hot milk and stir to combine. To up the comfort quotient, add a splash of rum. No marshmallow required.
How about some chili?
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 227 g pkg sliced button mushrooms
- 796 mL can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 450 g pkg lean ground beef
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 796 mL can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and thinly sliced green onions (optional)
A traditional pot of chili made just the way you like it; with beans, tomatoes and cheddar cheese.
Heat a large saucepan over medium. Add oil, onion and mushrooms. Cook until onion and mushrooms are soft, approximately 3 minutes. Crumble in meat. Add seasonings. Using a fork, stir the meat frequently, breaking it up. Cook until no pink remains, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in tomatoes and simmer, covered, until flavours develop, about 10 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until hot, about 2 more minutes. Spoon chili into bowls. Top with sour cream, cheese and green onion.
And for dessert, treat your guests to delicious Tiramisu!
- 475g mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup 35% cream
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp coffee liqueur or espresso
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 8 ladyfinger biscuits
Beat mascarpone cheese in a large bowl for about 1 minute. Then beat in cream, sugar and liqueur until just thickened, about 1 more minute. Divide pudding mixture evenly (about 1/3 cup each) among 8 ramekins or dessert dishes. Sift cocoa overtop. Serve with ladyfingers on the side.
Sources (images included):