Ice resurfacer hits outdoor rinks

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo An ice resurfacer cleans the ice of the Ray Benoit Outdoor Rink in 553 on Jan. 20.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
An ice resurfacer cleans the ice of the Ray Benoit Outdoor Rink in 553 on Jan. 20.

Effective Jan. 17, the town maintenance staff has begun using an ice resurfacer on the Ray Benoit Outdoor Rink in 553.

According to a news release from Ruth Boden, the town’s acting senior administrative officer, staff will continue to use the ice resurfacer with a daily flood around 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday unless the temperature is below -25 Celsius or heavy snows occur.

“We’re trying to keep that ice surface as smooth and as fast as possible so that they can have as good a skate season as we can provide,” Boden told The Hub. “It is an outdoor ice surface and weather conditions impact ice and so you’ll see cracks happening, and it’s simply because of the weather.”

The ice resurfacer is not left at the site of the outdoor rink but will be brought from the town garage for each cleaning of the ice.

“It can’t be left outdoors. It freezes up,” said Boden. “As a matter of fact, as they’re using it, it slowly freezes up. So then they have to take it back to the shop and thaw it out.”

In addition, one of the vacant facility maintainer positions with the town will be filled for a two-month term to allow for supervision at the Ray Benoit Outdoor Rink from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“We’re probably going to have to go out to advertise for it over the next week or so,” said Boden.

Concerns have recently been raised at town council about vandalism, drinking and rowdy behaviour at the 553 rink.

Once a person is hired to oversee the rink, Boden said, hopefully it will mean more usage and make it a better place for people to enjoy a skate.

Mayor Brad Mapes is pleased to see the changes at the 553 rink.

“It’s a work in progress and we’ve got to keep working better,” he said.

Mapes said people have to understand that the ice of an outdoor rink is not as easy to control as the ice of an indoor arena.

Town administration is also exploring options for maintaining the Old Town outdoor rink and will make an announcement once a decision has been reached.

“We’re looking at seeing if we can get something going with a Zamboni out there, but we need the space to keep it and we need to see if we can borrow or something one from the Polar Pond folks,” said Boden. “So we’re still looking at that.”

She said the ice resurfacer being used at the 553 rink would not be able to do the Old Town rink, because it would freeze up in the time needed to do both surfaces.

Boden noted the 553 rink gets heavier usage than the one in Old Town.

“The plan was that 553 would be the rink where any of the minor hockey or any of the groups would go to skate,” she said. “Whereas the Old Town one was set up more for recreational purposes for people just to come and go as they please.”

-Paul Bickford