Local man excited about possibility of outdoor rinks for hockey, skating

By Kirk Winter

Allen Irvine grew up in Lindsay playing hockey every opportunity he could. Now, years later with children of his own, Irvine would like to see Kawartha Lakes expand the options for children to get out and play a game of shinny by considering the construction of an outdoor ice rink for community use during the winter months.

“I have played hockey my whole life,” Irvine said. “I have kids of my own now and there is nowhere to play hockey outside in Kawartha Lakes. With this new (COVID) world we are living in I think the rink would be well used and it is something we should do.”

Irvine took it upon himself to phone city hall and question why Kawartha Lakes did not have a full sized outdoor rink suitable for hockey. The city suggested that Irvine contact his councillor Pat Dunn. In his conversations with Dunn, Irvine was told that this idea “had never been brought up before.” Dunn suggested that Irvine circulate a community petition to see what level of interest exists.

“When I asked the councillor how many signatures would be good he suggested 200 might get the attention of council. I shared the petition with friends as did my wife. When we posted it to Facebook 200 signatures became 400 and then became 700 in a couple of weeks. The support was unreal.”

“The petition received a lot of positive comments,” Irvine continued. “The presidents of Kawartha Minor Hockey Association and Lindsay Minor Hockey signed onto the petition and KMHA mentioned the possibility of using a facility like this to run skills camps for elementary students as part of their physical education programming. I hope the city would look at a good central location like LCVI, Elgin Park or Rogers Road. It would work best if the kids had easy access and were able to walk to the rink.”

When asked if the rink would be a dedicated hockey facility Irvine suggested that demand would determine ice usage. “If there is time, public skating or figure skating would be welcome,” Irvine suggested.

In his role as a youth worker Irvine has had an opportunity to take clients to many local sporting facilities. The Advocate wondered if there is a template facility Irvine has been to that he would like Kawartha Lakes to look at closely. Irvine suggested a good model for Kawartha Lakes might be the outdoor rink in Buckhorn.

“The rink in Buckhorn has a roof, heated change rooms and coin operated lights. There is no cost to use the rink and if the ice is open when you arrive, you can go out and play shinny. If there are already folks there playing you can often just join in. The boards stay up during the summer and you have options for summer sports like box lacrosse.”

The facility mentioned by Irvine is known as the Buckhorn Sports Pad. The pad is a free outdoor family rink, available to everyone, across the street from the public school in Buckhorn. The facility is open year round offering hockey and public skating in the winter, and pickle ball, ball hockey and basketball in the summer.

Postings to the facility’s Facebook page indicate serious talk of the installation of a chilling system to extend usage of the outdoor pad and avoid closures during the unpredictable winter thaws that are becoming more common place because of worldwide climate disruption. Much discussion also exists in Trent Lakes about replacing the ice pad with a more traditional indoor skating facility similar to the kind found in many communities in Kawartha Lakes.

“In an ideal world I see for Lindsay a city-built and maintained facility with volunteer help under the supervision of city staff. I think there would be many people who want to see this project work willing to help in any way they can,” Irvine said.

Councillor Dunn told Irvine that he has his support for studying the project. “I talked with the petitioner (Irvine) and it sounds like there is a need we didn’t know about. I am looking forward to a staff report on this issue,” Dunn said.

Councillor Emmett Yeo was very supportive of the petition also. Yeo asked that the staff report on the possibility of an outdoor rink for Lindsay look into the creation of multiple outdoor facilities.

“We would very much like one up north,” Yeo, who represents Ward 1 which borders on Haliburton County, said. “Folks in Norland have a spot at Wards Park for a rink and they have been fundraising and working on this very project until they were waylaid by the pandemic.”

Council agreed with Yeo, and the report expected this summer will look at multiple outdoor rinks as part of its mandate.

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