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First ‘community-run’ municipal rink opens at Newmarket Lions Park
Jan. 12, 2015
Chris Simon

You can now hit the ice at Newmarket’s first ‘community-run’ municipal rink, which opened Saturday.

A group of volunteers diligently prepared a sheet of ice for skating at Lions Park (424 D’Arcy St.) and the site officially opened to the public Jan. 10. The rink is part of a pilot project approved by council last month, which will allow two rinks to be set up in the municipality this winter — if there’s enough support from residents. The rink will be strictly used for hockey.

“We’ve had kids coming up and thanking us already,” resident Chris Howie said, noting the rink was also constructed by Mark West, Trevor Redvers, Jason Lye and Pat O’Mahony. “It’s for kids and youth. It’s awesome; this is a beautiful rink. It’s coming into shape. If people are going to use it, we expect them to take care of it.

“Everyone should have access to hockey.”

Participants will be asked to help clean and sweep the ice surface after use, Howie said.

The rink also received some financial support from the town and The Awesome Foundation.

Under the plan, participating volunteer groups can apply for a $1,000 town grant, which may be used to purchase equipment or insurance. The town also provides the site and water, but will not commit to further financial subsidies at this time.

Two other park proposals — one at Whipper Billy Watson, the other at Ken Sturgeon — are set to go in front of the town’s committee of the whole for review tomorrow. However, those sites currently fail to meet town requirements because the water equipment needed to flood the rink surface is not winterized.

“Council will still consider the applications,” town recreation and culture director Colin Service said. “We’d have to winterize the buildings where that water comes from. It would be about $2,500 per park.”

The project may expand in future years, however those decisions will be detailed in the Recreation Playbook, a long-term plan expected to be presented to council in the spring.

The town sets standards for each rink location. So groups needs to acquire appropriate insurance coverage, while signs and ice conditions must follow town guidelines.

There has been significant demand for increased outdoor ice facilities in town over the last few years. However, the issue gained momentum after several incidents took place between leisure skaters and shinny hockey players at Riverwalk Commons recently.

As part of the project, end-of-night pick-up hockey will be allowed at Riverwalk from 10 p.m. to midnight each day. However, only sponge pucks and tennis balls are permitted for use. Town staff will also increase their presence at Riverwalk, to ensure residents comply with existing rules, Service said.

“We’re really happy it’s moving ahead and we’re appreciative of all the volunteers that stepped forward,” he said. “We’re hoping people make use of these facilities.”

There is a play schedule for Lions Park. From Monday to Friday, kids 13 years of age and younger can skate from 3 to 4:30 p.m., while ages 18 and younger play from 4:30 to 8 and all ages pick-up hockey will be encouraged from 8 to 10. On Saturday and Sunday, parents and kids 10 and younger will have access from 9 to 11 a.m., ages 13 and younger get 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., ages 18 and younger will play 1 to 6:30, and all ages pick-up runs 7:30 to 10.