By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
The Town of Raymond will have an opportunity for outdoor skating this winter.
During their regularFeb. 2 meeting, Raymond town council discussed the possibility of having an outdoor ice skating rink at Perrett Park.
Hugh Simpson, Community Services manager for the town said he had talked to other communities with outdoor ice rinks and the Lifesaving Society, and he had done a quick brainstorming session with another staff member, on how they could have an outdoor rink this winter.
Highlighting some facets from a Lifesvaing Society’s skating on winter ponds fact sheet, one thing he said to be considered was avoiding moving water, as the current and changes in water level weakens the ice. It is also best to avoid water bodies with changing water levels, and unfortunately, Simpson had learned earlier that week water was going to be run out of Perrett Lake, which would change the water and ice levels at the ponds around there. He also said it is recommended the powers that be choose as shallow a water body as possible, and noted the ponds at the golf course run six to 12-feet deep, although they are probably at five-feet right now.
The town would also have to check for ice thickness, as at least four inches would be required for people to be on the ice, and maintenance and testing would need to be completed on a regular basis.
“It’s not as simple as just putting people on a pond and go skate, there’s a lot of things we have to do and be prepared for, and obviously safety would be number one,” said Simpson.
Simpson said the town could potentially place an outdoor rink on ponds located at holes seven and eight at the golf course, noting the pond at hole seven does not have any water flowing out of it and is the only pond the creek doesn’t run through, making it a good fit. The town will need to get signing for the rink, such as “Keep Off the Ice,” “Use at Your Own Risk,” rules and COVID-19 signing, and the town would need emergency gear such as a ladder, life jackets, rope and a bin with blankets and hot pockets in case someone falls in. Other equipment or tools required would include an ice auger and flood lights.
In terms of a Zamboni for the ice surface, Simpson said he had made some calls and there was potential insurance issues, as if it goes into the pond their insurance may not cover it. They also don’t have a place to store it there, it can’t drive through snow or rough terrain and the propane could be temperamental in the cold.
“So really, the Zamboni doesn’t really work, but I did look at what we had as equipment, and we do have a Kubota that has a cab on it, it has a brush and a blade, so we can easily move the snow, and I would then build a tank with water you can put in it with some PPC pipe with some holes in the back that would work as a Zamboni you could drivearound.” said Simpson. “It’s not going to do what a Zamboni would do, but I think it’s going to give us a pretty good playing surface.”
Simpson added southern Albertans are not supposed to be playing games right now, so he didn’t think the town will be adding hockey nets. The town would have to build a ramp to get the Kubota onto the ice safely, as pond seven has more of a bank. The town could also place flood lights there at a cost, and they would likely do maintenance during the week and not onweekends. Simpson said the costs to have the pond would be around $2-3,000, in a one-time cost.
“It gives people the opportunity to go out and skate,” said Simpson. “I like thelocation. To me what’s great about it is it’s by the clubhouse, so there’s bathrooms there — if we need to we could open them up if we wanted to, although again, without it being supervised, that makes it a little bit trickier. But what I do like about it is you can actually toboggan, there’s lots of good hills around that clubhouse, so it kind of becomes a little bit of a winter wonderland, a little bit, between the tobogganing and the skating. Especially if we put up lights; those lights would reflect enough that people could even toboggan in the evenings now. So I think there’s some pretty cool opportunities in that.”
While there may be some changes in the plan, as his notes were the result of quick brainstorm sessions, Simpson said he believes the twon could pull it off with a little bit of money and cold weather. Coun. Stewart Foss voiced support for the idea, noting when he lived in Edmonton, one of his favourite things there was a winter festival with outdoor skating, and the opportunity to do it in Raymond was exciting.
Coun. Joan Harker also voiced support, adding no matter what the year, she could see them making good use of it.Coun. Ken Heggie also said he was for it, but asked who would be liable if there are too many people on the ice, due to COVID health restrictions, to which Simpson said as long as there is signage there, there would be some responsibility on the user for it, although if they do get contacted about it, the town would have to be more vigilant on it.
“I have faith in our community, I’ll be honest withyou. I think if we put those rules out there, I think most people will follow them,” said Simpson.
Coun. Ron Fromm pointed out even when it was free at the town’s ice arena, they didn’t have hundreds upon hundreds of people there skating at once.
“I think it’s just another opportunity, another outlet, another venue we can go and have a wonderful Canadian winter experience,” said Fromm.
Council passed a motion to approve the outdoor skating proposal.