Highlighting research: 'The geography of Toronto's outdoor skating rinks'

February 21, 2024 by A&S News

In many cities with colder climates, outdoor skating and hockey rinks provide residents with invaluable facilities for both affordable outdoor recreation and social gatherings.

In a School of Cities funded study, Jeff Allen and Teresa Lau mapped the locations of the City of Toronto’s 54 outdoor skating rinks and analyzed the access to them. Allen is the School of Cities’ data visualization lead; Lau is a second-year master’s student at the Faculty of Information and a research assistant with the school.

With data from the City of Toronto's Open Data website, the two investigated the overlooked geography of rinks by mapping their accessibility by foot and public transit, as well as their accessibility for different groups: immigrants, low-income residents and racialized people.

For example, one of the insights shown by Allen and Lau’s work is that residents in many Scarborough neighbourhoods have farther to travel to the nearest outdoor rinks.

“Outdoor skating rinks provide residents with important activity space for play, exercise and social interaction — especially on winter days when other types of outdoor activities are limited due to low temperatures or snowfall,” says Allen.

“Expanding the number of outdoor rinks available — particularly in underserved areas in Scarborough — would likely have short- and long-term physical and mental health benefits for residents in these neighbourhoods.”