Cold weather a blessing for volunteer rink builders
Ice can freeze the Beach to a standstill when it piles on tree limbs and streetcar lines.
But when volunteers build it into rinks, the neighbourhood soars.
Ice makers are busy in parks from Fairmount, Orchard and East Lynn to Glen Stewart, Love Crescent and, for the first time in many years, in Norwood.
“We’re all hoping for a long, cold winter,” said Catherine Rodd, a long-time resident on Enderby Road, across from Norwood Park.
“We may be the only ones,” she added, laughing.
Rodd remembers a natural rink at Norwood more than a decade ago, before city cutbacks shut it down.
Thanks to a park levy from the developer of a nearby condo, city staff held a public meeting last year to invite residents around the park to say how it could be improved.
When Rodd and her friend Delora Harvey asked neighbours about restarting the rink, they quickly met the six-volunteer minimum the city needed to support it.
Parks staff fixed up the underused water tap before winter set in, and are now supplying storage space and one-inch watering hoses.
Tim Orichefsky, who works for Parks, Forestry and Recreation, guided the Norwood volunteers through an ice-making workshop just before the holidays.
Ray Bernard, one of the volunteer Ice Masters at Fairmount Park, also offered to coach the group for the first few ice-making sessions.
Among many tips, Bernard said it is best not to start building ice until temperatures hit -10.
“And not minus 10 with the windchill,” Rodd said. “Real minus 10.”
Over at Love Crescent Parkette, where he got a rink started for the first time last year, Russell Gienapp can say from experience that it also helps if your park is flat.
Sloping ground at Love Crescent has made expert ice engineers out of Gienapp and other volunteers, who have to spray water in extra-thin layers to make it level. Gienapp even borrowed a neighbour’s lawn-roller last year to help smooth and then freeze a strategically placed layer of snow.
Even with a team of 10 volunteers, four more than last year, getting the rink built-up is a big job.
But watching three Malvern students play shinny in an open rink looped by a big skating circle that winds through trees, he said it’s well worth the effort.
A few years ago, Gienapp was part of the project to install Oriole Park, a wheelchair-accessible project in Midtown.
“That was a $2-million project,” he said. “It was huge, and a big impact on the community.”
“But for the cost of a water connection and a couple lengths of hose, and a lot of sweat, in the full-blown winter we can get 60 or 70 people on the ice in a weekend.”
Louisa Berti agrees. While out walking her dog rink-side, she said the ice at Love Crescent is even better this year than last, and her grandchildren, seven and 11 years old, can’t wait to skate on it.
“We’re going to bring hot chocolate,” she said. “You have to make memories.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a volunteer borrowed a push-mower to flatten the Park Crescent Parkette ice rink. In fact, it was a lawn-roller, and Beach Metro News apologizes to anyone who tried to mow an ice rink.
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