Thursday December 11 – Carabram Park Community Ice Rink

One day in January 2013 I noticed a new sign entitled “Community Rink” on the fence of the baseball diamond in the park near my home.

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There didn’t appear to be a rink, just a snowy ball diamond.  So I called the number on the sign to inquire about the rink.  I was told that there was a volunteer in the community that would be building the rink.  I asked for contact information, but was unable to acquire it due to Ontario’s new privacy legislation which seems not to actually protect anyone’s privacy when it really matters, but only to hamper the exchange of information when it would actually be useful and of no harm to anyone.  I asked the City employee if they would pass along my name and number to the volunteer and have them let me know how I could help.

A number of weeks passed, with no one calling me and no ice rink appearing.  I called back and was told that the volunteer had been out of the country, but was now back and would be building the rink.  By this time it was nearing the end of January.  Ice rink building is a rather time limited activity.  More time passed with no rink;  the rink was never built.

Fast forward to December of 2013.  I called the number again.  I explained what had happened earlier and said I wanted to be the volunteer to build the rink.  Turns out the previous volunteer had moved away and, in addition to never building the rink, didn’t even return the equipment.

I was required to fill out paperwork for myself as the Rink Coordinator and get five other adults from the neighbourbood to agree to form a committee.  Once that was completed, I learned what was involved  – wait for snow, shovel snow to create barriers, spray repeatedly until 4-6 inches of ice has built up.

The weather was ideal last winter for ice rink building.  A large group of friends and neighbours came out to build the banks on December 15 and it didn’t take long at all.  I provided hot chocolate and Timbits.

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The City employee met with me on December 18 to deliver the equipment, two 25 foot two inch fire hoses, a nozzle and a key for the standpipe, and to show me how to use it.  I strapped a moving box onto an old toboggan to get the equipment back and forth from my house to the rink.

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We flooded several times daily between the 18th and the 20th.  Then on the 21st we had the ice storm.  It was too slippery and there was too much work cleaning up our property to do anything for several days.  The ice storm made the banks brittle and leaky, so once we started flooding again we lost a lot of water under the banks.  This picture was taken on the 28th.  The ice surface was still too thin and uneven.

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Here’s Newman spraying on the 29th.  You can see how lumpy the ice is and how leaky the banks are.

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We finally opened the rink for skating on the 30th.  Here is Owen skating on it for the first time.

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This year I planned to volunteer much sooner and got the paperwork done in November, but the weather hasn’t been cooperative.  We finally got a big snowstorm on Thursday and even though the weather is forecast to be well above freezing for four or five days, I decided to clear a space and create the banks when we had snow in the hope that the banked snow would not melt.

We have created a bigger area this year but, unfortunately, had fewer volunteers out helping since it was a weekday.  Thanks to Trystan, Edmund, Owen, Anthony, Phil and Luca.  It was a hard 90 minutes of shoveling.  The snow was about 10 inches deep and we cleared a space about 50×100 feet.

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Bryan, Dinah and their three little girls joined us when we were flagging when we were about two thirds done.  Thanks guys.  I don’t think we would have finished without you.

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I was supposed to go to spin class at 5:30, but I was tired and the roads were too bad for me to be able to get there on time so I skipped it.  My neck and shoulders were sore from the shoveling.  It was dark by the time we finished.

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Here is the cleared area on Friday.

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Here are the signs I put up.  We had a lot of problems with inconsiderate people interfering with the rink as we were trying to build it last year.  I hope it will be better this year.

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About Lisa Stokes

I am a stay-at-home mother of four whose hobbies include photography, quilting and cycling. I have recently started to advocate for better cycling infrastructure in my community. I am photographer and librarian at the Brampton Quilters' Guild. I build and maintain a community ice rink in my local park.
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