outdoor hockey season on thin ice?

It will soon be Hockey Time in Bells Corners. Lynwood skaters, disappointed by last year’s disastrous outdoor rink season, were briefly cheered by the rumour that Al, the guru of Ottawa outdoor rink operators, was interested in taking on the Lynwood rinks.

Alas, Al will only be doing his own neighbourhood rink this year. He was approached by the City and asked to sign the contract but, after considering the offer, he respectfully declined. A second local experienced guy was also approached by the City but turned it down.

The City will eventually con someone into taking on the job – hope this year’s rink operator will be skilled and dedicated – last year was very frustrating for many skaters.

The ideal rink operator would be a local resident with a personal stake in providing the best possible conditions for skaters (which means leveraging the grant money by recruiting and deploying volunteers). A neighbourhood gets the rink it deserves – without some sort of organized volunteer component (not just kids, adults too) conditions will fall short of what is possible.

The community association is hoping to have the building and change rooms open on weekends. We should aim higher! In previous years the fabulous facilities in Lynwood Park were open and supervised every day, from early afternoon until late at night.

There are many advantages to having the building open as much as possible (access to water, washrooms, heat, first aid kit, telephone, etc.) but the primary payoff is that it dramatically increases the number of skaters – the kids use the rink more after school, and the rink is much busier in the evening. That should be the bottom line for our Lynwood rinks – increasing participation by getting people on skates as much as possible.

BUT ice conditions are more important than having the facilities open, so ideally “financial compensation” should be concentrated on physical labour (shovelling, scraping, flooding) rather than on supervision.

Hope I don’t sound too critical here – I’m just saying let’s have high expectations for our rink – a building that’s open as often as possible, a season that starts early and finishes late, a decent puddle rink, excellent ice conditions whenever possible, effective adult supervision, etc. Outdoor rinks deliver many obvious benefits (improved health, community-building, etc.) but another way to look at it is in terms of maximizing the taxpayer’s return on an investment (roughly $10,000 for the Lynwood rinks) by doing what we can to increase the number of skaters.

Hockey Day in Lynwood video

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4 Responses to outdoor hockey season on thin ice?

  1. wanderer says:

    Has anyone done a request for volunteers, be it one evening a week, a day or 1/2 day on weekends, etc? I should think that parents of young skaters should be able to dedicate some time since their kids make use of the facility. I see the rink daily from my kitchen window, and realize how many kids,teens and adults are out there having a marvellous time. Could it be counted as part of the highschool ‘pay back to the community’ or whatever they call the program that the highschoolers have to accumulate to graduate? They could accumulate the hours, and have fun at the same time – some sort of ‘volunteer’ designation on their jackets and a way to log the time.

    – The LVCA has put out a request for volunteers on its Facebook page, but the rink operator also has to show leadership. Several people (both kids and adults) gave their contact info to last year’s rink operator, but they were never contacted.

    The best outdoor rinks have a lot of community involvement – in some parts of Barrhaven there are enough volunteers that the community association can pocket the entire City grant (around $4000) and invest it in community projects.

    I don’t think we’ll ever see something like that in Lynwood Village – with its sparse population and aging demographic the volunteers just don’t seem to be there (hope I’m proven wrong). Being out late at night in extreme temperatures doing heavy physical labour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and let’s face it, everyone’s just too busy earning a living and spending time with their families to make a commitment to working at the rink.

    Using student community hours can help, but it’s not a panacea. Hundreds of organizations are eager to get free labour, so there’s a lot of competition for the kids. Few of them would see backbreaking labour lifting snow over the boards as the preferred way to earn credits, and students can’t work late at night when the REAL work goes on (preparing the base ice and flooding).

    Just giving students credit for being at the rink cheapens their value (credits for physical labour is another story). If the building is to be open then it needs to be supervised by an adult – teenagers supervising teenagers is NOT advisable.

    I’m not being negative here, just realistic. Your vision is still a good one and it IS feasible, but it won’t be easy to make it happen without some strong leadership. Let’s hope that the LVCA is on top of this file, so we don’t have the same embarrassment as last year when our poorly-maintained ice opened weeks after nearby rinks, and closed weeks earlier.

    The clock is ticking – November is the time to get organized, as early December is when dedicated rink operators don their tuques and boots and start working on the rinks.

    • In Rockcliffe if you have children who use the rink you are expected to volunteer. The other volunteers will go to your house and ask if you want to participate and most people say yes because they don’t want to be free-riders. The volunteers even get together every few weeks at one of the local bars to socialize. There is a snowball effect because there are so many volunteers to begin with that when other people get asked to participate their sense of community makes it hard to say no. You really just need someone to take the initiative.

      – Part of the reason that here are so few volunteers here and the community association doesn’t want to run the rink is that the ice was in impeccable shape and the building open for many years, because of a core group of dedicated volunteers – if everything is perfect there’s no big motivation to get involved.

      Now that the community has seen how crappy a “privately-run” rink is, it should be easier to shake a few people out of the trees. But it won’t happen on its own – somebody has to take charge and get it organized and motivate people.

  2. Jayme says:

    I would like to see westcliffe and lynnwood community associations merge – it would work for sure.

    it may seem odd but if you have one association over seeing both westclifffe and lynnwood i think that would be a win-win for all

    – We had something all lined up last year- not a merger but a plan to unite the the three community associations (Westcliffe, Lynwood, Bellwood) on Bells Corners-wide issues. Even Rick’s buddy Bill at the WECA was on board!

    The plan is toast now – the Bellwood association sort of collapsed and Rick engineered the coup d’association to shut me up and tame the dissident LVCA.

    Rick is a big divide and conquer fan.

    • margaret says:

      I don’t see why the joint community isn’t still doable. the fact that Bellwood is no longer, makes more sense to have a new Bells Corners CA so they can be included. I remember being part of what was known as new lynwood and not really being part of any community group, at least that has changed. we need an organization with people to run the community centres, rinks and programs but even that could be under one umbrella

      BC is BC and I think there are lots of benefits from having one CA – the recent crime prevention meeting for example – it is only one community after all – we’re an island – we only have one group of schools and one group of shops

      I know there’s history of how ‘groups’ started and it still means something, but times and needs change. the issues that affect lynwood – chances are they affect westcliffe too

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