Most outdoor ice rinks in Edmonton had to close because of the recent warm weather, but some communities are determined to keep the skating season alive.
The ice rink in the Parkview neighbourhood invited skaters back Wednesday night, as temperatures dropped again.
“Some days, they have 80, 90 skaters here,” said Marvin Malka, who floods the rink. “Some days, if it’s cold, they only have 10, 15. We were open last night and even yesterday at Britannia which is amazing considering we’ve had such stupid weather.”
“We are the only ones that pray for five to 15 below,” he said with a smile. “Everybody thinks that we are crazy but that’s the best – optimal – to make ice.”
Malka said the Parkview rink got off to a late start this season when it opened in December. He said this year was the first time he remembers the rink being closed for six days in a row.
“This has been the worst year in the seven years I have been doing it.”
Last year, the rink closed for good at the end of February but organizers say most years, it stays open until March 15.
“We were a little worried we may have to close early again this year,” Facilities Manager Tracey Kushniruk said.
“But we have great rink guys and they have worked overtime to get us up and going again.”
Malka said it takes three people about an hour to shovel and scrape the rinks. Then, it takes another 45 minutes to flood them both. And that’s only after they’ve established a solid base for the season.
“Because this is a grass base, it takes us about 30 to 35 floods to start and then we usually flood, on a normal winter, three maybe four times a week. And every time it snows, we scrape. Here, we have a sweeper. So we will sweep, scrape with shovels or snow blow if it is heavy enough.”
It sounds like a lot of work but Malka says there’s one thing that makes it all worth it.
“We have a lot of families that come out here… which is great.”
“Yesterday we were flooding our second or third coat at 5 o’clock at night and the kids were playing in the park because the ice wasn’t ready,” he said. “I kind of felt bad because they would be on the ice if it was ready, if we would have had decent weather.
“It’s great when you show up at the rink and the kids are like: ‘Ah! The ice is great!’ Makes you feel good.”
Parkview rink is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Flooding was also taking place at the rink in the Britannia-Youngston community Thursday.
There are dozens of outdoor rinks in Edmonton, many are managed by community leagues.
Nearly all of the rinks had to close last Thursday due to milder conditions.
However, the city said the outdoor rinks at Hawrelak and Victoria parks were open Thursday, while the Rundle one was closed.