Rink Review: Withrow Park

Toronto’s outdoor public rinks have suffered in recent years. Cutbacks mean that most rinks no longer have a dedicated Zamboni, instead having to share one that gets moved from rink to rink throughout the day. The result of this is that many rinks are only flooded once or twice a day, which can make the ice quality highly dependent on whether you’re skating one or twenty hours after the last ice resurfacing. Withrow falls into this category, but the rink is so little-used for most of the day that the ice is usually in good shape.

The first thing that makes the Withrow rink notable is the general absence of other skaters. I’ve been to Withrow for leisure skating a couple of times this year and have been the only person on the ice each time. The ice is a little busier evenings and on weekends, but there’s still an awful lot of room for each skater.

The second thing you’ll notice at the rink is its location in the middle of one of the east end’s busier dog parks. One end of the rink overlooks the main off-leash area that features an overwhelming array of dogs (and owners/walkers) of all descriptions who arrive, play, and leave in well-coordinated hourly shifts. It’s quite the spectacle to watch.

The standard-issue change room is nothing to write home about, and there’s a small bank of lockers near the door. The washroom is typical of other public washrooms in the Toronto park system — you may or may not get soap, paper towels, or hot water. There are no vending machines or other services inside the rink’s support building. The park clubhouse a couple of hundred metres north of the rink is usually much cleaner.

Withrow Park rink information:

  • Facility type: Outdoor artificial rink.
  • Public skating hours: Various; see page 8 of the Toronto South District skating guide (pdf).
  • Public skating cost: Free
  • Accessibility: A small step down to the ice surface and one up into the change room. Narrow doorways.
  • Public transit: 72 Pape bus (any branch) south from Pape station to Wroxeter; walk one block west to the park; or walk west on Danforth from Pape station, then south on Carlaw to the rink.
  • Parking: Local on-street, paid lots on Pape north and south of Danforth.
  • Lockers: Yes ($0.25).
  • Change rooms: Yes.
  • Washrooms: Yes.
  • Skate rental: No.
  • On-site services: None.
  • Nearby services / after-skate meal / snacks: The Riverdale Perk cafe is a block southwest of the rink at Logan and Withrow. The many restaurants and shops of the Danforth are within a 5-10 minute walk.

On a scale of 1-10:

  • Crowding: 9
  • Ice surface: 6
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Cleanliness (washrooms, change rooms, etc.): 5
  • Ease of getting there: 7
  • Overall: 7