Game Misconduct – City’s Liability on Outdoor Hockey Rink Maintenance


There is nothing more Canadian than checking the weather to find out that it is the perfect conditions for a good old hockey game with your friends at the outdoor public ice rink. But who is responsible for ensuring the property maintenance of these public rinks?

Ontario Occupier’s Liability Act:

According to the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act, an individual who is injured from an accident occurring on a property is allowed to bring a claim against (1) the occupier of the property and (2) any independent contractor that was employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice on the property.

Property occupiers have a legal obligation under their “occupier’s duty” to have taken such care in all reasonable circumstances to see that persons entering the premises or brought on the premises are reasonably safe.

Property Owners’ Liability:

Outdoor public ice rinks, are typically owned by the municipality they are found in. This means that the city must take reasonable measures to ensure the premises are safe by performing proper maintenance and repairs. They must have taken reasonable steps to also have warned you of any dangers or hazards that exist on the property, in this case, the local ice rink. These reasonable steps include but are not limited to;

  • ensuring that the ice rink and its boards were constructed and maintained in a manner that is free from ditches, stones, holes or cracks through regular maintenance and inspections
  • ice being maintained at a recommended thickness of 2-2.5 inches as not to thaw out too quickly and cause injury
  • ample lighting if the ice rink is to be used during the later hours of the day
  • benches to provide opportunity for skaters to safely remove and put on their equipment
  • adequate signage in order to convey critical information to the public related to the ice rink and safety precautions

Exceptions to Owners’ Liability:

However, as seen often in law, there are certain exceptions to the extent of an owner’s liability. An exception that can be seen involving ice rinks can be the illegal trespassing of individuals who use the premises during closed hours of operations and are thus held responsible for their criminal actions.


Spending time outdoors with your friends and family seems like a great idea considering how the last few years have gone, however it is important to know your rights when you decide to partake in outdoor activities and to ensure that your legal rights are protected. If you are injured during your visit to an outdoor ice rink and it is not due to your play, it’s crucial that you report your injury and make sure that you don’t allow the municipality or occupier to get away with any “unsportsmanlike conduct.”  

Written by

Vithu Srikantha is an articling student at Avanessy Giordano LLP, a boutique personal injury law firm that prides itself on personalized care and the highest level of client service. He joins the AvaGio team after graduating from the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and has been able to assist its staff in ensuring injured clients receive the best support during their path to recovery during their personal injury claims.