A warming trailer has been set up next to the Ray Benoit Outdoor Rink in the 553 area of the community.
“So the trailer is here and it’s warm,” said Gloria Murdock-Smith, the senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River. “Hopefully this will attract more people out to this beautiful rink.”
Murdock-Smith and a couple of other town employees were checking out the trailer on Dec. 15.
At that time, she expected the trailer would be ready for use by the middle of this week when protective flooring and some chairs would have been added.
Kim Tybring, the lead hand with the town’s recreation department, said the ice user groups, such as minor hockey and figure skating, will require a key to use the trailer.
“It obviously can’t be left open overnight or unattended for long periods of time because of the potential for misuse one way or another,” he said.
Tybring said that if some people want to have access to the warming trailer for events like a Christmas skating party, they can contact the recreation programmer with the Town of Hay River.
“We’re cutting a bunch of keys,” he said, adding that any person with a key will be responsible for making sure the trailer is left as it is found, and is locked.
Murdock-Smith said the use of the trailer will be monitored.
“The user groups have told us they are probably not going to use it as much as we thought,” she said. “So there will be time for the community.”
The 50-foot-long by 12-foot-wide trailer, which has washroom facilities, has been leased at a discounted price from Concept Energy.
Earle Dumas, the director of public works with the Town of Hay River, noted that Rowe’s Construction, Mackenzie Electric and Eagle 88 have also helped with either the trailer or improvements to the outdoor rink.
Murdock-Smith noted the Recreation Committee asked the town to focus on the 553 rink as the prime outdoor rink in the absence this winter of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre as it undergoes a rebuild.
For one thing, the outdoor rink’s boards have been upgraded.
“We put in doors and access gates so that it’s a little more like an arena experience than most typical outdoor rinks are,” said Tybring.
Two extra lights were also added to the existing two to provide better lighting for night-time skating.
Despite the improvements, Murdock-Smith suspects usage of the outdoor rink by town residents has been negatively impacted by the recent cold temperatures.
“They’ll come probably when it’s warmer is what I suspect,” she said.
There are two other outdoor skating surfaces in the community – an existing boarded rink in Old Town and a temporary ice surface with no boards on the south side of town.