Council finalizes outdoor rink plan

Town council approved a report to finalize the long-term development plan for upgrading the outdoor rink facilities here over the next three years.
In the 2006/07 season, the town will complete relocating the north end rink and build two ice surfaces—a hockey rink (25 m x 56 m) with boards and a smaller skating rink (12 m x 28 m) with no boards.
Also this winter, the town will reduce the number of rinks being operated from five to four. The east end, north end, central (Robert Moore), and McIrvine rinks will stay open while the west end one (Lillie Avenue) will be shut down.
The town will continue to provide heated rink shacks at the McIrvine and east end outdoor rink facilities.
But at the north end and central rink facilities, the inside of the rink shacks will be closed to the public (though open to community volunteers, who will be given keys to the facilities to access ice maintenance equipment and the water supply).
Outdoor benches will be provided at these rinks so users still have a place to put on their skates.
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said yesterday that if the restriction of public access to the inside of the rink shacks dramatically affects usage of the rink, the town may reconsider keeping the shacks closed.
Then in the 2007 budget process, council will determine whether the town will construct a new maintenance shed at the north end rink.
It also will decide whether the central rink will be upgraded by levelling out the ground (ice) surface, as well as installing a standard size rink (25 m x 56 m) with normal size boards and mesh/screening at both ends and a smaller one for non-hockey users.
This expansion will utilize boards from the dismantled west end rink.
(Note: Work at the central rink will have to be approved by the Rainy River District School Board).
Then in the 2008 budget process, council will consider replacing the central rink shack, as well as building both standard size and smaller rinks at the east end site.
And finally, in 2009, the town will determine if it’s necessary to continue to provide heated rink shacks at both the east end and McIrvine rink facilities.
Standardization of the McIrvine rink may or may not take place as, currently, that rink is in the best shape of them all.
The town held a public meeting Oct. 26 to get input on the proposed plan and made a couple minor revisions, which are reflected in the details above.
< *c>Rink hours
For the information of rink users, Brown noted town staff will be opening the rink shacks at the east end and McIrvine at 8 a.m. each day and closing them at 10 p.m. each night once the rinks are “in” for the winter.
The lights and heaters will be on timers at those locations, so the 8 a.m.-10 p.m. timeframe will be the hours the town considers those rinks “open” for use.
Parks and Cemeteries workers will open the rinks on weekday mornings while the arena operator will do so on weekends and at nights.
While it may depend on the weather, Brown said the town is aiming to have all the outdoor rinks in by Christmas.
He added the town would like to see volunteers help out at all the community rinks. Those interested should contact Community Services manager George Bell (274-4561).
Brown also said Walter Horban will not be maintaining the outdoor rink at St. Michael’s this winter, and since no volunteers have come forward to take it over, it likely won’t be operated in the 2006/07 season.