“You Don’t Get Me I’m part of the Union!” (Song by the British group The Strawbs)

As most of you know from my last hockey post, the outdoor season ended last Sunday at the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation Bleu Blanc Bouge outdoor rinks, including my local NDG rink. There are, I believe, 7 of these refrigerated, official NHL-sized rinks on or near Montreal Island. They were built at a cost of $1.4-million each by the Montreal Canadiens Children Foundation (see their website for a clearer description at; https://fondation.canadiens.com/en/programs/bleu-blanc-bouge-program/), with the intent of getting kids who can’t afford organized hockey programs out playing Canada’s game (Lacrosse is actually the National sport), say rather than sitting at home playing video games full time or watching the tube. Canadian Tire is also a major contributor.

So this program is fabulous, and I have to tip my hat to these two great contributors for what they are doing in our communities. I also skate at one of these fabulous rinks, as well as dozens of rink rats of all ages at each rink.

Part of the program was to extend the hockey season, hence the refrigerated rinks. So when this rink opened in our neighbourhood I was so happy that we wouldn’t have to really on the other outdoor rinks in the city, which are at the mercy of the weather and the union that is supposed to keep them maintained – the Montreal Blue Collar workers. How silly me to think this!

It turns out that the Foundation has left the maintenance of these high-end rinks to this same union. The union decides when they will be opened and when they close – big mistake!!!! This union has always screwed us shinny players for years. Before these rinks we never knew what to expect at the regular outdoor rinks when we showed-up. Most of the time they were in bad shape and dangerous to play on, as bad ice leads to falls, twists and other hazards.

I found the workers lazy and unconcerned by the condition of the rinks or that hundreds of people relied on them for their only outlet to exercise. They showed up when they felt like to clear or flood the rinks. It was a real crap shoot as to whether they would be in a dangerous condition, or if the union workers had a good day, then the rinks would be taken care of. I’m not joking here! It was and still is an absolute farce and the city officials seem scared to confront them on maintaining the 150 or so regular outdoor rinks.

So now they are responsible for the handful of BBB rinks. The point I am getting to here is that, considering the policy to keep these BBB rinks open longer in the season (due to the refrigeration capabilities) this union turns around and closes them, when they could be open for another two weeks? So where do the kids go now? Nowhere! That’s where.

It was -8 today and cool every day since last Sunday, and they close all the rinks. Why? Because they can. They don’t give a shirt about the kids or others who use the rinks. The kids can’t complain about this – so I am.

Now we have this union cancer closing these incredible rinks at their whim! Absolutely pathetic!!!! They are like a sledge hammer in this city. They run the show and the politicians fall into their sniveling place when they roar. So yesterday I sent an e-mail to the Foundation and they respond by saying we just supply the rinks and its the district that provides the workers to maintain them. Bad Strategy!!

Here is our communication.

“Dear Foundation, first, I would like to thank the Foundation for building these fabulous rinks. Playing shinny at your NDG rink has become a life-line in the fitness not only for myself ( a 59-year-old shiny fanatic) but for the dozens of younger people who share this same love. We have become a very close group tied together with our passion for hockey. But there was one big question being asked last night as we completed our last night (according to the attendants) at the NDG rink; why is the rink closing when the weather forecast is positive for an extended season this week? Isn’t the idea of these rinks to extend our outdoor season? We were told by the polite staff that the blue-collar workers had more important jobs to do. What’s that all about? When you dedicate $1.4 million on a rink, why not use it to its utmost???? Why is this rink closing – because of the wishes of a few blue-collars (sounds like some kind of ransom agreement)??? I see this arrangement as a flaw in the BBB program. Can you please respond to my concerns so I can pass the answer on to my close Shinny friends whom also share this concern?”

The Foundation reply.

“Dear Mr. Galbraith,

Thank you for taking the time to write us. When the Foundation builds a BBB rink, it becomes a legacy to the district. The district takes charge over the complete management of the rink, except in case of a major issues. We have given them a protocol to follow to ensure quality time for kids on the ice. The district also becomes responsible for managing the activity schedule, and make the final decisions on when the ice is made and removed. There are many reasons that lead to a rink closing for the season and they will be able to explain their current situation to you. If you are not able to reach them, please contact us again and we will follow up on your request.


This is not acceptable. If you are going to provide $1.4 mill for a rink, then for goodness sakes know who is driving the car, so to speak. This is not the first time the NDG rink has been held ransom by these people. The start of last season was delayed for some obscure excuse, while all the others were open. If there is a major snowstorm happening and the streets need cleared for public safety issues, then I can accept their not being able to clear or flood the rink. But surely there has to be some other arrangement (independent work team) you can implement even if it means cutting a few thrills at the rink. These rinks should be maintained independent of this union. What if they go on strike? What if there are work slowdowns? See where I am going here. Eventually even the Foundation will be held ransom as this rink is now, while winter howls away outside my apartment window. I don’t mean to embarrass the Foundation, but please!!! Come on! Let us make sure these rinks are used to their utmost capability, even though I realize your hands have also been tied by this dilema as well.

Robert J. Galbraith. 3/18/2015.


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