Alberta’s first fully accessible outdoor skating rink is now under construction in northwest Calgary and will be open early in the new year.
The rink is being built at the community of Parkdale.
The Parkdale Community Association needed to build a new rink to replace their old one. Association members decided they wanted to make it accessible for everyone and consulted with the Calgary Sledge Hockey Association.
“Since we are building this from scratch we thought why not? Hockey is for everybody and let’s set a new standard for the city,” Parkdale Community Association rink director John Butterwick said.
“It should be the standard way of building outdoor rinks.”
Construction started back in September when they tore the old rink down. The new one will be level — no more lip onto the ice which means people using walkers or sleds can slide right on.
The bench doors will be wider and boards will be clear, so players who are off the ice can see the action from their sleds or wheelchairs.
“The rink replacement is built to sledge hockey standards with very simple modifications — basically wider gates and cut out, see-through boards,” Butterwick said.
Phase two includes accessible change rooms and bathrooms.
The total cost of the project is $1.25 million with money coming from the city, the province, Parks Foundation Calgary and the Calgary Flames Foundation.
“Everyone loves outdoor hockey, but to try and build it in a way that every athlete can use this and people from all over the city are going to come enjoy the space. I can’t wait to watch all the kids and families on the ice,” Butterwick said.
The Parkdale Community Association joined forces with Level Playing Field, which provides accessibility consulting services, to learn more about what was needed.
“This is one way, whether you are a pro or an amateur wanting to learn, at least it gives everybody another option to go for it,” Level Playing Field founder Darby Young said.
“When it’s done it should be a world class outdoor facility that everybody can enjoy and that we can maybe see a few games on or at least give hope to kids, especially around the mental health aspect and getting people outdoors and enjoying life,” Young said.
The rink is expected to be complete in early February.