saddest day of the year

I love the white stuff, so for me the unofficial end of winter (the day the last outdoor rink closes) is the saddest day of the year.

Most city rinks are closed. But a few struggle valiantly on. Westcliffe is open for business for one last day.

Lakeview was a very busy place yesterday, with a lot of the players coming from all over the city to Al’s famous rink for one last kick at the can. Today’s visitors won’t be disappointed – Al flooded last night.

By praising Al I’m NOT criticizing other rink operators – I used to be one myself so I KNOW how tough the job is. Every rink is different, with its own unique constraints.

Al would be the FIRST to say “Heck, I’m just lucky that I have such support in the community; I love the rink and I don’t want thanks.”

the TRUTH about Al’s curling rink
I still want to salute the self-effacing Lakeview operator as a way of praising the Ottawa Model for delivering outdoor rinks. It’s very different from the Toronto, Montreal and Gatineau models.

When everything falls into place perfectly, as it does at Al’s rink, the Ottawa Model (a neighbourhood/City partnership) delivers the most bang for the buck. Our low-tech, low-budget approach gives us the greatest number of neighbourhood rinks, meaning that as many kids as possible can walk to the local rink.

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2 Responses to saddest day of the year

  1. TonyL1 says:

    As always, great pics! Yes, it is sad to see the short season fade away so quickly, especially after so many worked so hard.

    On the flip side, Bells Corners’ other favorite pastime is coming back – soon we’ll be seeing the Bells Corners FREE Bike-taxi back in action!

    Not to mention Star Fries!

    – Mmmm, Star Fries!

    I’ve been out a far bit on the bike-taxi this winter. It will probably be in the St. Pat’s parade on Saturday. You can see the bike-taxi’s poppa in this video from last year.

  2. Al’s rink looks amazing. It is hard to imagine that it’s done with a shoestring budget and volunteers. Excellent work.

    – I’m a firm believer in the many community benefits of a local rink, especially one that kids can walk to. It’s really a place for everyone, not just skaters. I wish there were even more people out.

    That’s not Al’s problem though – sometimes there are so many players that they have to take turns (the team who gets scored on is replaced by the waiting team).

    It really chews up Al’s ice to have such intensive use of the rink, but he just cheerfully does what’s necessary for the next day. He’s got a mailing list to keep the local community up to date on rink news and appeal for help when he needs it.

    If you listen to the CBC interview you’ll learn the secret of the Smooth Rock Falls toothbrush!

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