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Mount Pearl constructing public outdoor skating rinks

City of Mount Pearl public works staff work on constructing an outdoor skating rink at the basketball courts off Murley Drive last week. It's one of four outdoor rinks the city will have available for public use this winter. — CONTRIBUTED
City of Mount Pearl public works staff work on constructing an outdoor skating rink at the basketball courts off Murley Drive last week. It's one of four outdoor rinks the city will have available for public use this winter. — Contributed

Plans for four ice pads getting a warm welcome

MOUNT PEARL, N.L. —

Kim Pelley remembers as a young girl skating on a small gully in a cow field near Mount Pearl.

“It was my favourite thing to do,” she said. “We couldn’t wait to get out there every winter.”

With those memories in mind, she’s happy kids and others will get the chance to experience something similar.

The City of Mount Pearl will build four outdoor rinks in the coming weeks — two at the soccer fields at the Team Gushue sports complex off Smallwood Drive and one each at the Gloria Pearson Community Centre back parking lot off Holden Street and at the basketball court, off Murley Drive.



Each measuring 90' x 40', the rinks will be maintained with the help of volunteers, including those in the city's hockey and soccer associations.

Pelley — a teacher who is also president of the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association — said while kids play in regulated programs in top-notch indoor rinks in the city, there’s nothing like skating outdoors.

“I think this is just awesome. Everybody is so excited about it,” she said.

"It’s a chance for the kids to play together in a way that’s not so organized. And maybe these outdoor rinks could encourage other kids who don’t play hockey to give it a try.”

The concept of an outdoor rink was a pilot project that began in 2019 with the Murley Drive rink. It went over so well, the city decided to expand it.


The outdoor rink at the basketball courts off Murley Drive in Mount Pearl was a pilot project from 2019. The city will rebuild this one, along with three additional ones in the city this year. — Contributed
The outdoor rink at the basketball courts off Murley Drive in Mount Pearl was a pilot project from 2019. The city will rebuild this one, along with three additional ones in the city this year. — Contributed

At a cost of $7,200 for the four rink kits, the areas will be flooded by public works staff and contained with short walls to allow them to freeze on level surfaces. Volunteers from the neighbourhood will help maintain them by shovelling snow and flooding the rinks after each skate.

“We’re trying to create that backyard feeling,” Mayor Dave Aker said. “It’s a great community partnership.”

The biggest challenge will be the weather, he said.

“It’s a lot of work to maintain these rinks, keeping them frozen and free of snow. And snowstorms like we’re about to get, they set you back in terms of the volume of snow that’s going to lay on top of the ice surface,” he said.

“But if we go back, say a week ago, we had a lot of mild weather and naturally that causes everything to melt.”


“These backyard rinks take us back to a former day when a lot of us built homemade rinks, so there’s a bit of nostalgia in that regard. It’s the Canadian way, isn’t it, to deal with winter?” — Dave Aker


However, Aker said the rink on Murley Drive has about an inch or two of solid ice and that much more of water underneath.

“We need some cold weather and get the snow off it after this storm and, hey, it’ll be ready to go,” he said.

The rinks will open at 10 a.m. each day and can be used by people from outside the city as well. They aren’t lighted rinks, but nearby ambient lighting may be enough to allow evening skating, Aker said.

“It’s a great way for everyone to remain active during the winter months,” Aker said. “But it’s a great, super way for community interaction during a pandemic.”

The city is asking that people respect public health regulations and maintain social distancing.

“These backyard rinks take us back to a former day when a lot of us built homemade rinks, so there’s a bit of nostalgia in that regard,” Aker said. “It’s the Canadian way, isn’t it, to deal with winter?”

@TelyRosie

Rosie Mullaley is a municipal reporter in St. John’s.


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