Flood it and they will come.
Steven Shamess shovels the ice clear at the outdoor skating rink at Dogbone Park. The Glen Cairn man, who has maintained the puddle rink for four years, is one of the thousands of community volunteers who keep the ice clear and useable at Ottawa’s 247 outdoor rinks.
When it comes to this year’s rink-making weather snow far snow good, said Steven Shamess.
Since 2008, the Glen Cairn man has maintained the puddle rink at Dogbone Park, located near John Young Elementary School.
This year, Shamess was able to open the outdoor rink at Dogbone Park a week before Christmas, much earlier than usual.
“It’s been a lot better than last year,” he said. “It was terrible last year in terms of keeping it going, in terms of the freezing rain and such.”
Every night, Shamess returns home from his job at Softtek Integration Systems, a high-tech company in the Kanata North Research Park, and starts work at what has become his other career.
The work isn’t exactly exciting – scraping and shoveling snow in freezing temperatures from December until March, but it has its rewards.
“I figured it was something to give back to the community because my children used it for a number of years,” he said. “Someone’s gotta do it.”
Shamess started volunteering his time maintaining the rink in 2008, after he read a story in the Kourier-Standard about an older man who had developed cancer and could not continue his work keeping Dogbone’s rink running.
Shamess felt obligated to help out.
His children grew up skating on the rink.
Every day, Shamess arrives at the rink and pulls out the hockey nets stored in a nearby maintenance shed.
Sometimes there’s a few kids already on the ice waiting for the nets to come out so they can start their game.
On days following a heavy snowfall, Shamess is a familiar figure in his neighbourhood, slowly pushing his 8.5-horsepower Sears Craftsman snowblower up the street to the park.
He usually waits about four hours – time enough for the neighbourhood children to enjoy a few games of pickup hockey – and then returns to the rink to flood the ice.
Shamess’ tools are ice scrapers – semi-curved shovels that are 60 centimetres wide – a shovel, a whisk broom, a snowblower, and a fire hose.
BANG FOR THE BUCK
Shamess is one of the more than 3,000 volunteers who keep the ice clear and useable at the 247 outdoor rinks throughout Ottawa.
The city provides $1,100 a season to each volunteer to maintain small rinks and $4,700 for larger rinks with a puddle – a smaller ice pad used by parents with small children.
Volunteers sign an agreement to provide 30 hours of supervision for larger rinks with attached smaller ice pads.
“There’s a tremendous amount of volunteer effort that goes into these rinks,” said Kelly Robertson, manager of city recreation programs. “The labour is all volunteer.”
Most volunteers use the money to maintain their snowblower and pay for gas.
The city’s public works department installs boards, light poles and lights at the rinks and ensures field houses – places for people to put on their skates are heated properly and have working water.
At some rinks, volunteers offer skating lessons and other winter programs.
Of the city’s 247 outdoor rinks, the majority are maintained and run by community associations. The city maintains 26 rinks, the majority of which are located in Gloucester because the area lacks the necessary infrastructure.
The outdoor rink and attached ice pad at Clarence Maheral Park in Glen Cairn is one of those maintained and run by a community association.
The Glen Cairn Community Association is responsible for both Dogbone – which is maintained and run by Shamess – and Clarence Maheral Park, located next to the Lion Dick Brule Community Centre.
The community association received $4,200 this year to maintain the rinks at Dogbone and Clarence Maheral parks.
The money pays for maintenance, gas and snowblowers – last year some of the money left over was donated to the Kanata Food Cupboard, the Kanata Youth Haven and the annual Scott Tokessy Memorial Gold Glove Tournament, held last August near the Kanata Recreation Complex.
Clarence Maheral is usually packed at night with teens playing hockey, said Rob Nino, president of the Glen Cairn Community Association and who, with the help of Dave O’Connell, maintains and floods the ice.
“It’s in beautiful shape right now,” said Nino.
At night, the pair can usually be seen hovering around the edges of the rink scraping the sides, and often delaying the lion’s share of the work – the scraping, shoveling and flooding – to give the kids an extra hour of playtime.
This year, it took 52.5 hours of work to open the rink at Clarence Maheral, said Nino.
“This year was especially challenging,” he said.
The community association is planning to celebrate Hockey Day in Ottawa again this year at Clarence Maheral Park on Feb. 9, with a local novice hockey team playing that morning.
A few kilometres north of Dogbone and Clarence Maheral, in the heart of Katimavik, sits Young’s Pond, a “natural gem” that has served skaters for decades.
Pam Hornby, known affectionately as “the Pond Lady” co-ordinates volunteers for snow removal and Roman Srutek looks after flooding operations.
Hornby took over as supervisor of a group of volunteers who maintain the Katimavik outdoor rink in 2010.
For decades, the rink was maintained by the Beck family, whose home faces Young’s Pond.
Every winter the Becks and their neighbours maintained the rink, providing their own hoses to flood the ice surface.
In 2008, that job was taken over by Rod MacLean, now president of the Katimavik-Hazeldean Community Association, which maintains the outdoor rinks at Young’s Pond, 171 McCurdy Dr. and the one behind Katimavik Elementary School at 64 Chimo Dr.
Every winter, MacLean publishes flyers asking for people’s help to shovel and clear the rink, delivering them to 450 homes in the area.
MacLean said he could usually count on the assistance of a group of 10 volunteers every winter, including one resident with a snowblower.
Hornby was one of those dedicated volunteers, which is why MacLean asked her to take over the job as co-ordinator when he assumed the post of president of the community association.
The Katimavik woman started shoveling the pond in 2004; one year, she bought a bucket shovel to make the job less labour-intensive.
Anyone interested in volunteering to maintain the outdoor rink at Young’s Pond can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Katimavik-Hazeldean Community Association receives $2,600 to maintain the boarded rink and puddle rink at Katimavik Elementary School and $1,100 to maintain the rink at Young’s Pond.
Maintenance of the rinks at Katimavik Elementary are co-ordinated by the school council.
Anyone interested in volunteering can email email@example.com.
“We can always use more volunteers,” said MacLean. “More hands make light work.”
The Bridlewood Community Association maintains nine outdoor rinks: four with boards and lights and five puddle rinks.
- A rink with boards and lights at Huntsman Park, 28 Huntsman Cres.
- A puddle rink at Sawyer’s Meadow Park, 80 Sawyer Way.
- A rink with boards and lights at Meadowbreeze Park, 98 Meadowbreeze Dr.
- A puddle rink at Scissons Park, 96 Bridle Park Dr.
- A puddle rink at Stonemeadow Park, 56 Stonemeadow Dr.
- A rink with lights and boards at Bluegrass Park, 59 Bluegrass Dr.
- A puddle rink at Black Tern Park, 53 Black Tern Cres.
- A rink with lights and boards at Mattawa Park, 94 Steeplechase Dr.
- A rink at Shetland Park, 24 Shetland Way.
The community association receives $13,000 to maintain the rinks, said association president Margaret Kellaway.
Volunteers are needed to help maintain all the rinks, but especially the ones at Scissons and Stonemeadow parks.
“For the most part the same people have been doing the same rink for a number of years,” she said. “Sometimes we have to send flyers around to find volunteers.”
A number of high school students earn their community service hours by shoveling snow and scraping ice off the rinks.
Residents can also help out by keeping their dogs off the ice – to avoid urination and defecation, Kellaway added.
“What drives me nuts is when people let their dogs go on the rinks,” she said. “You can’t control what your dog is going to do.”
The community association plans to use the rinks to celebrate Hockey Day in Ottawa the weekend of Feb. 9 to 11, and will provide residents with hot chocolate and snacks.
Anyone who would like to volunteer their time to help maintain the rinks should email Allen Bursey, the rinks co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association runs two outdoor ice rinks in Beaverbrook: one at Roland Michener Public School, 100 Penfield Dr. and the other at Stephen Leacock Public School, 25 Leacock Dr.
The schools use the rinks during the day for gym classes, and the ice is available for public use at night and on weekends.
The community association receives about $4,000 from the city and gives the money to the First Kanata Scouts to maintain both rinks.
The Scouts have their work cut out for them this year, struggling to maintain the ice after the sudden increase in temperature last week, causing water to leak outside the rinks’ boards, said Allen Miller, treasurer of the Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association.
“The scouts are definitely earning their stipend this year,” said Miller.
The Briarbrook, Brookside Morgan’s Grant Community Association maintains three rinks:
- A boarded rink with lights at Juanita Snelgrove Park at 356 Kinghorn Cres.
- A boarded rink with lights at Klondike Woods Park,1383 Halton Terr.
- A puddle rink at W.C. Bowes Park, 1251 Halton Terr.
The rinks are run by volunteers Bill Hiscock and Eugene Muldoon and the association receives a $6,000 city grant to maintain them.
“We do need additional help,” said Sarah Dehler, vice-president of the community association.
Residents can volunteer by visiting the website www.bmgca.ca.
“The rinks are well used and well loved and provide a great service in the winter months,” said Dehler.
The community association will host its annual Winter Family Fun Day at Juanita Snelgrove Park on Jan. 20 starting at 1 p.m.
The Kanata Lakes Community Association maintains one outdoor rink in Whalen Park, 4111 Kanata Ave.
It receives $2,600 from the city to maintain the boarded rink, with an attached puddle rink.
A new rink, run by an area resident, is located at Keyrock Park, 401 Brunskill Way.
“We used to do the Beaver Pond but the Beaver Pond is unstable,” said Matt Muirhead, president of the Kanata Lakes Community Association.
The community association plans to hold a winter family fun day at the Whalen Park rink on Feb. 17, with skating and games. It will provide hot chocolate, cider, and treats at the event.
The rink, maintained by David Laidlaw, can use some help from area residents, said Muirhead.
Anyone who would like to help can email Muirhead at email@example.com.