As the days grow longer and spring appears on the horizon, the Champlain Park rink volunteers recently got together for a game of parents vs kids hockey, and to celebrate the successes of winter 2021.
The Champlain Park Community Association recognized the importance of safe, outdoor activity for local residents during this pandemic winter, and partnered with the City of Ottawa to bring the rink maintenance role back into the community. Dozens of local residents came together to make the Champlain Park Outdoor Rink (ODR) an incredible community success story. At peak season, the ODR consisted of the boarded rink, a double-wide skating loop, a large “puddle” on the baseball diamond and an adventure snake run. This large amount of ice surface enabled us to accommodate more than 60 skaters in compliance with City of Ottawa health regulations.
The winter got off to a slow start, without enough snow base to build the rink – but the ODR crew responded with the innovation of flooding the baseball diamond to create a puddle rink. The puddle was a huge hit and bought time for nature to deliver enough snow for the rest of the ice surfaces to be built. Public health restrictions also meant that only skating was allowed on the ODR in January, with no sticks or pucks permitted on the ice. As soon as this regulation was loosened, the sound of pucks hitting the boards quickly returned to Champlain Park, with multiple games taking place in shifts throughout the afternoon and evening.
Countless person-hours were invested in flooding, scraping, shovelling and snow clearing to build the ice and keep it in good condition. We are extremely grateful to the dozens of neighbours who contributed early mornings and/or late nights to the effort – including Jon, Arni, Chad, Ian, Kevin, Michael, Jimmy, Curtis, Natasha, Craig, Derek, Helene, Gerald, Lucy, Dave H, Dave S, Stewart, Louise, Eric, JP, Gerry, Guillaume, Connor and Adrian. And an extra tip of the hat to all those who picked up a shovel to help scrape and clear the ice whenever they were at the ODR.
In addition, there were some neighbours who went completely beyond the call of duty and we’d like to acknowledge a few of them:
- Matt K: the quarterback of the entire ODR effort. Matt spent his entire winter within a 50ft radius of the rink and herded the cats to make it all happen.
- Paul: the co-captain of the team, who didn’t need much excuse to be at the ODR and could be counted on to be there with a hose in hand on the coldest of mornings.
- Rod: the MacGyver of the crew and lead technical engineer. Rod completed multiple prototypes of carbon-friendly, small-scale zambonis. The ice will be even more incredible next winter.
- Manfred: hose engineer extraordinaire. Manny kept the water flowing and the snow blowing.
- Graydon: jack of all trades, kept a close eye on the rink quality and community hockey development.
- Dan: 2020 candidate for Australia’s prestigious “top 80 under 80” list of outdoor ice rink makers. And rink liaison to CPCA Board.
- SJAM groomers: these guys saved a lot of labour time by rolling and packing the snow base for the rink and loop.
- St George School: donated 3 large benches for skaters to put on their skates, given that the Fieldhouse was not fully open to the public. St George students also enthusiastically used the ODR as soon as they returned to in-person classes.
We’d also like to give a shout-out to Aimee, who took on the supervision component with the City and oversaw a team of rink supervisors.
A huge thanks for all the support to the ODR this year – it was a truly magical community experience to see so many people come together to build and enjoy all the ice surfaces! We’re looking forward to doing it all again in winter 2022!
Champlain Park ODR Crew