Community rink in Montreal’s West Island providing warm fun on cold winter days

Click to play video: 'Beaconsfield residents take matters into own hands and make skating rink a reality' Beaconsfield residents take matters into own hands and make skating rink a reality
WATCH: A local community initiative in the city of Beaconsfield has been bringing warm fun in the cold winter months. It's an ice rink, part of the city's adopt-a-rink program, and by all accounts it's paying off. Brayden Jagger Haines reports. – Feb 11, 2022

Glide on the Jasper Park ice rink in Beaconsfield long enough and you will surely find a few partners eager to play a quick pick-up game of hockey.

“We are here almost every weekend or after school,” Alya Eren said.

She and her brother Kaan are frequent users of the community hockey hotspot which is just steps away from their home.

“I think it’s pretty ideal. You don’t have to drive with a car and it’s very close,” Kaan said.

The rink, which spans nearly 80 feet, is a haven for children on the street looking to get outside and play.

“We play tag and hockey. It’s so much fun,” Julia Donatelli said. “We don’t even count the points. It’s all for fun.”

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For parents like Sezen Eren, the nearby rink is a blessing,  allowing kids to be kids, especially during the cold winter months.

“It’s awesome. I can say my kids have learned to skate and are continuing to practise here,” Eren said.

“In five minutes, there is a game. The kids are off the screen, out of the house and playing hockey here enjoying winter on the rink.”

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For the last 20 years, the rink has been a staple on the residential street.

What is a grassy playground park in the summer, is transformed every winter into a wonderland with a large ice rink for hockey with snowbank boards at the centre and a winding skating trail that weaves through the park.

The rink is part of the city’s adopt-a-rink program. The Jasper Park location is one of five in Beaconsfield.

The city has a hands-off approach; Beaconsfield supplies the equipment, the hoses, shovels and access to the fire hydrant, and the residents maintain the ice.

Francois Sébastien, or “The Ice Man” as he is known locally, takes the lead on caring for the Jasper Park rink, which is one of the most popular in the city.

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“The day I call it work, I won’t be doing it anymore. It’s just fun to do. It makes me go out and see all the neighbours in the winter that we won’t see otherwise,” Sébastien said.

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Humble, Sébastien puts in hours of his time to keep the sheet of ice in tip-top shape. He says he spends several hours on a daily basis in the early months, watering and clearing the ice for the community.

“I don’t count. The day I count, I’ll stop,” Sébastien said.

He isn’t alone in the art of rink-making. He said it is truly a community effort, especially when there is a big snowstorm.

“Often, all the neighbours will come out and help shovel. We almost have a party, just cleaning up. Then the kids come with their skates and have fun,” Sébastien said.

It’s not all work and no play. Sébastien enjoys the fruits of his labour, playing along in the pick-up games.

“It’s all worth it,” he said smiling. “Look at the fun we’re having.”

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