Fake ice could be used at Windsor's Charles Clark Square
Plastic, gel-coated ice costs less than natural ice surface
The City of Windsor is considering using synthetic ice instead of the natural stuff at the public skating rink at Charles Clark Square.
John Miceli, the city's director or facilities, said the plastic ice is cheaper to install and maintain and would be more reliable in Windsor's fluctuating temperatures, which don't often fall below zero.
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Natural ice costs $70,000 in water and maintenance each year. Synthetic ice would be a one-time cost of $56,000 and city workers would install and move the ice at a minimal maintenance cost.
"We can basically pick this floor up, and bring it anywhere in the city, if council elects us to do so," Miceli said. "So the great thing is that if we want to skate in the summer, we can skate in the summer."
Bob Allan owns Maximum Edge, a local skate shop. He said synthetic ice has its pros and cons.
"It's going to eliminate having compressors downtown and worrying about the outside conditions ruining the natural ice," he said.
Allan said "chewed up" skates that aren't sharp enough can damage the synthetic ice surface.
"That's one of the drawbacks of the artificial ice," Allan said.
Recreational skater Ryan Green isn't sure the fake ice will be best for beginners.
"If they're comfortable skating on ice, I think it would be okay. But if you're someone who might need to push a chair around or something, the mechanics behind it are a bit different," he said.
Andy Paquette said synthetic ice doesn't have the same feel as the real deal.
"You won't have the feel of the ice, so it could frustrate people," he said. "But as far as going out to exercise, it's fun as long as you don't take it too seriously."
City council will consider synthetic ice during its budget session next week.
If it approves the fake ice, the new rink could be in place in late December.
Windsor also won't be the first municipality in Canada to use synthetic ice.
The Archie Simpson Arena in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., was outfitted in December 2010 with a plastic-based surface, which acts similar to real ice but requires no refrigeration. But officials were forced to remove the $550,000 surface due to unexpected cracks and bumps.
Earlier this year, Grand Falls-Windsor became home of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's first indoor artificial ice surfaces.