By Richard Webb
This is an update on the status of the effort to bring the community rink back to Mutchmor, after 80 years of operation and a “temporary” closure in 2012 to facilitate storage of building materials for the Mutchmor extension. At that time, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) promised to reinstall the rink once there was no longer a need for storage – a promise that was never honoured. The community was never consulted in connection with the initial or the continued closure of the rink.
The rink was the only boarded rink in the Glebe, was centrally located and was the only place children without the fi nancial means to engage in organized hockey could develop their hockey skills and have fun. It was also used as a venue for other community activities and formed an unstructured play area for students. It was truly a part of the Glebe’s history and heritage.
Who opposes the rink? The Ottawa- Carleton District School Board. Mutchmor School. Mutchmor’s principal, Christopher Werely. The Mutchmor Parent Council (a committee that acts as a liaison between the school and Mutchmor parents).
Who has been contacted but has not yet indicated a position? The local MPP (Joel Harden). The local MP (Catherine McKenna). The Inclusive Education Branch of the Ministry of Education, the mandate of which includes community use of public property.
Who has indicated their support for return of the rink? Everyone else. The City of Ottawa. The local municipal councillor, Shawn Menard. The Glebe Community Association. The Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group. Lots of community residents, including the parents of Mutchmor kids. Some current and former teachers. Probably a lot of Mutchmor students who would no longer have to trek off to Lansdowne for class skating. Even the school trustee, Lyra Evans, has expressed initial support.
What would it cost the OCDSB to install, maintain and manage the rink? Nothing. The City of Ottawa would bear all the installation and maintenance costs and GNAG would manage it.
What are the OCDSB’s stated reasons for opposing the return of the rink? Damage to the field. Interference with sight lines for teachers supervising the playground. Potential for injuries to students. Are any of these reasons new? No, they existed throughout the rink’s 80-year existence, and didn’t warrant closure or cause significant problems.
What are the contrary arguments? The field is already pounded into hardened dirt or mud (depending on the weather) by the daily activities of students, and no further damage can occur to it. The minimal sight line interference existed for 80 years, and the teachers seem to have coped adequately with the inconvenience. As for injuries, they also occur on the climber, in the gym, in other areas of the field, and there is no evidence that the rink was a particular culprit.
What is the community asking for? Just the return of an established heritage community resource, as promised. Nothing new. No cost to the school. No increased administrative responsibilities.
What are the benefits? For Mutchmor students and teachers, close access to a rink for skating. For the community, a public boarded community rink and a venue for community activities, as in the past.
Despite being contacted several times, the OCDSB has replied only infrequently and laconically. It has never explained why it failed to honour its promise to return the rink or why it does not feel it has any responsibility to consult with or consider the wishes of the community.
When Mutchmor was previously slated for closure, the community rallied to save its “community school.” It is one of life’s ironies that had the community not saved Mutchmor, the school would be gone but the community would still have its rink. It is also significant that the rink closure occurred when Mutchmor and First Avenue schools swapped students, leading one to question whether Mutchmor can still be considered a community school.
How can you help? If you are interested in a return of the rink, send an indication of such support to your school trustee (Lyra Evans), the Chair of the OCDSB (Shirley Seward), the Director of the OCDSB (Camille Williams- Taylor), the Superintendent of Education (Olga Grigoriev), Mutchmor’s principal (Christopher Werely), your MPP (Joel Harden), your MP (Catherine McKenna) and the Director of the Inclusive Education Branch (Vena Persaud). If you are uncertain of contact points for the above, please contact me and I will provide them. And if you have not done so, please also notify me of your support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get our community rink back from the OCDSB bureaucrats. Richard Webb is a Mutchmor school parent who for several years has spearheaded the Glebe community’s efforts to have the Mutchmor rink returned.