Nice ice

February 7, 2021

A chance encounter on Grenadier Pond this morning renewed my faith in the City of Toronto bureaucracy.

I had laced up and skated onto the ice at about 11 a.m. A thin coat of overnight snow covered the smooth surface.

Then I saw a man coming towards me, sensibly dressed in a Canada Goose parka. The man led a procession consisting of  two impossibly tiny tikes in matching new green jackets and flourescent orange toques.

The man knelt on the ice. With a long ¾” bit attached to a cordless drill, he punched a hole in the ice. Then he dipped a metal rod into the hole, pulled it out and lined the rod up with a metal ruler. He typed into his smartphone.

“Are you measuring the thickness of the ice?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “It’s 14 cm thick. Plenty safe. This is always a thin spot on the pond. Last week at this spot it was 3 cm thick.”

I began to laugh. “You were standing on 3 cm thick ice to measure it?” I said.

“Well, I had a team with me, with ropes,” he said.

The funnier part about that is that, last week, on the day he found that spot to be 3 cm thick, I skated on the pond with two friends. We had no ropes. On the evening of that skate, Jan. 31, someone apparently went through the ice at the south end of the pond and the police rescued them.

The gentleman with the drill told me he is a subcontractor to the City of Toronto. He pointed to his tiny children. “They are sub-subcontractors,” he said.

“Yesterday the city changed the flag,” he added. “It was red, now it’s yellow.” Yellow means skate at your own risk.

“It’s never green,” he added. I guess it’s safe enough, given that he brought his helpers.

It’s all good news. For years I railed in the National Post about the city’s insistance to ban skating on the pond, regardless of ice conditions. As I noted then, I have never missed a season on Grenadier Pond since I moved to Toronto in 1994.

Maybe I had some kind of an impact. Now, the city has someone who checks, and if the city finds the ice acceptably thick they fly the yellow flag. With rinks closed to shinny by Covid-19, it’s time to skate on the pond!

Dozens of people joined me on the pond this morning. I am sure there will be many more this afternoon.