Promises broken

The Mutchmor hockey rink in all its former glory.PHOTO: JOCK “HAS SHOVELED THIS RINK” SMITH

—the demise of the Mutchmor hockey rink

By Richard Webb

For many years (since 1932) a boarded rink was located on the Mutchmor field and heavily used by the community. A decision was made not to install it in 2013 to facilitate materil storage in connection with the 2014 addition to Mutchmor school. The community was promised that the rink would be reinstalled after construction was completed. The rink, however, was never reinstalled, and both the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) refuse to reinstall it, breaking their promise to the community. Interestingly, both the city and the OCDSB initially blamed the other for making the decision not to reinstall the rink. Now, however, they seem united in their opposition to its reinstallation.

A number of residents (myself included) have been trying over the past four years to have this rink reinstalled at Mutchmor, an initiative supported by a large number of community residents. Sadly, these efforts have proven unsuccessful. Responses from city and OCDSB officials – and our elected representatives – were minimal to nonexistent. Where such responses were received, none supported the reinstallation of the rink at Mutchmor or, it now appears, anywhere else in the Glebe.

The Mutchmor rink was the only boarded rink in the Glebe and served as a central play area for the community. Without this rink, those who cannot afford organized hockey have no opportunity to play within their own community and those who are fortunate enough to afford organized hockey have no opportunity to practise and improve their skills. One would have hoped that the current emphasis on the value of children engaging in physical activities would have found its voice within the city and the OCDSB.

As many will recall, city officials and the local councillor had announced with considerable fanfare that such a rink was to be installed at Sylvia Holden Park at Lansdowne. While this location is far from perfect (on the fringes of the community with nighttime security compromised in the darker and less-densely populated area surrounding Lansdowne), this would have been better than nothing. Now, however, the city’s recreation supervisor Katy Prusakowsi has advised that the Sylvia Holden Park location has proven to be “unsatisfactory” for the purpose (although no reasons have been given) and that all other locations considered are “unsuitable” (again, without reasons). One suspects that “unsatisfactory” and “unsuitable” are euphemisms for “inconvenient” or “costly” (ironic, given city spending in other areas, such as sprucing up Main Street, largely to the benefit of condominium developers).

The following is a distillation of the problems raised by the city and OCDSB and our responses to same.

  1. A rink would damage the soccer field underneath, on which money has been spent (but ordinary use of the ground causes the same amount of damage)
  2. Risk of liability – children may be injured playing hockey or skating (true, but does that mean no rinks?); children may slip on the rink (ditto); a rink might interfere with sightlines for supervising children (but teachers have somehow managed since the 1930s); the rink would need supervising outside school hours (but GNAG has volunteered for this)

“ It is distressing that neither the city nor the OCDSB has acknowledged the breaking of their promise to the community to reinstall the rink at Mutchmor.”

  1. A rink would reduce school usable yard space (but since the 1930s, kids have gotten more play value out of the boarded rink (with or without ice) than they would ever get out of the bare earth underlying it.)
  2. Lack of access to water (but water was (and still is?) available at Mutchmor; for other locations, it’s the city’s role to facilitate community needs)
  3. Proximity to housing (but noise and inconvenience are inevitable by-products of living in a community – for instance, noise and parking problems at Lansdowne. Two skating rinks at Glebe Memorial Park also back onto housing.)

While the Mutchmor field is optimal due to its central location in the Glebe, we have also suggested alternate locations (for instance the exposed bed of Brown’s Inlet) but all suggestions have been rejected. It is apparent that the real opposition to the reinstallation of the rink at Mutchmor is purely financial – the installation of a boarded rink at Mutchmor or anywhere else will be opposed if it involves any cost to the city.

Residents of the Glebe pay some of the highest taxes in the city, yet are provided with some of the poorest facilities. The closest arena, for instance, is Brewer, an inadequate and outdated facility long eclipsed by the more modern and integrated facilities funded by the city in other communities. Canterbury, for instance, has a modern indoor arena and swimming pool, a community use building and another outdoor artificial ice facility with boards!

It is distressing that neither the city nor the OCDSB has acknowledged the breaking of their promise to the community to reinstall the rink at Mutchmor. Problems have been seen as a bar to action rather than something to be resolved to achieve a valuable goal. There are myriad reasons for not doing something – it takes real leadership to take action.

We continue to press the city and the OCDSB to bring back the Mutchmor Rink. If you support our efforts, please contact your councillor, the mayor and your school board trustee. If you wish to be kept advised of future developments, please let me know at richard.

Richard Webb is a Mutchmor school parent who for several years has spearheaded Glebe community’s efforts to replace the Mutchmor rink.   

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