Even though weather conditions have been right for an early start to prepare outdoor rinks this year, Greater Sudbury needs more volunteers to get them going and maintain them.
With cold temperatures coming early in December, some of Sudbury’s outdoor rinks have been open for weeks. But several don't have ice yet and might not open at all this winter, due to a lack of community volunteers.
City recreation manager Cindy Dent said she is hoping to avoid that with the city's new “Shovel Superheroes” recruiting campaign.
"We decided that it was time to recognize them by both calling them superheroes and putting the call out for other people who could come and help out,” she said.
Even with a shortage of volunteers in some neighbourhoods, almost all of the 53 outdoor rinks in Greater Sudbury will be open for skating this winter.
Tom Gunn, 72, is the ice maker at Rosemarie playground in New Sudbury.
He spends hours in the dead of night making sure kids have a place to skate the next day.
Gunn has been doing this for 35 years — for his kids, and now his grand-kids. But he isn't ready to hang it up yet.
"I don't think my wife would ever allow it. She's quitting every year,” he said.
“We'll say we've had enough and then she'll say 'Well, who will do it if we leave?’"
Too many rinks?
Some city councillors have wondered if Greater Sudbury needs so many outdoor rinks.
Dent said that's one of the questions being asked in a review of parks and leisure programs, which is expected to be reported to council in the new year.
“We could maybe narrow down how many offerings we have within a certain geographical area,” she said.
“But I would say, on the other side of that coin, communities like to have neighbourhood rinks."
Sudbury's outdoor rinks do receive some operating funding and are tended to by city staffers several hours each day. However they're largely run by neighbourhood volunteers.