Charlottetown hopes to open first of 12 outdoor rinks this weekend
Rinks usually open in January but the city wants to give kids 'a place to go'
The city of Charlottetown is getting ready for the outdoor rink season and hopes to have one open as soon as this weekend.
Charlottetown's outdoor rinks usually open in January, but with an unusual year due to COVID-19, Coun. Terry Bernard says the city wanted to expedite the process to get some rinks up and running early.
"With the colder weather and with the holidays, the kids off before Christmas and during the Christmas break, [it's] nice to have a place to go, a place to have some fun," Bernard said.
"Especially for the type of year that we've had, we would like to have them having some fun during the Christmas holidays."
The city is planning to open 12 rinks this year. Typically crews need to wait until January, when the weather has been cold and there is snow cover, but Bernard said an earlier start was made possible thanks to the recent cold temperatures and a new type of liner the city is testing out.
"We're trying to find a new material that can keep the water in," he said.
"So far, so good. It's a good sheet of ice in there right now. We're just about getting to the point where we could let the kids on it."
The liner is made of 10-millimetre plastic and cost the city about $1,000. Bernard said a combination of boards and the liner mean the water will be contained in the rink in the event of a thaw, so the work is not lost if it warms up.
If the new system works as it should, the same setup may be applied to other rinks.
The city started with the rink at Bomber Callaghan Park on Patterson Drive, which was officially named the Gordie Griffin Rink when the motion passed at city council Monday night.
"This was just built this past summer. Gordie Griffin was a very strong volunteer in the community over a number of years, known for a lot of things, but one of the things he's mostly known for is always volunteering to put up a rink on his own property for 22 years," Bernard said.
"He's done a lot for the youth in this area."
Bernard said the rink will be staffed in order to make sure people are following COVID-19 precautions and official times and opening dates for the rinks will be posted by the city.
"The crews are ready to go," he said.
"So, once the weather co-operates, we'll have them up and going."
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With files from Laura Meader