Toronto Councillor Sarah Doucette wants to bring city-sanctioned skating back to Grenadier Pond and is asking staff to take their cue from other communities that monitor ice conditions.
Ms. Doucette represents the west-end ward that includes High Park, where she points out skating on Grenadier Pond is a century-long tradition. Next week, she'll be asking the city's parks committee to have staff look at the practices used by other municipalities that allow skating on frozen bodies of water and report back in the spring on the costs.
"I understand why people are saying, 'Just let us skate.' I would love to see it happen, but it's got to be done safely," Ms. Doucette said Wednesday.
Toronto stopped checking the ice on the pond in 2001 because of the staffing it required. Since then, it has prohibited the activity. That decision has become an issue in the past two years, Ms. Doucette said, when frigid temperatures have frozen the pond and tempted hundreds of skaters to defy the city's warning signs.
Mayor John Tory expressed support for Ms. Doucette's efforts. "To me, if it's safe and they can have reasonable staff costs, then I say why not," he said Wednesday on his way back from a two-day trip to Ottawa where he watched skaters on the Rideau Canal.
"We should be looking to have more fun, not less. Those that want to ban tobogganing and ban everything, they should give themselves a shake," he said.
This winter, city staff have visited Grenadier Pond regularly to provide information and warnings to people about the potential dangers of skating on the pond, a spokeswoman for the city said in an e-mail.
While safety is the biggest concern, Ms. Doucette said sanctioning skating on the pond would also allow the city to regulate where it takes place and how people get onto the pond. With no controls, she said, sensitive bird habitat is being damaged by people who approach the pond from all sides.
If approved by committee next week, staff would report back later this year on their findings. That report would be too late for this skating season, but Ms. Doucette hopes to have a solution in place for next year.