Misunderstanding may have led city staff to reject outdoor rink in Lindsay

By Kirk Winter

"No one said they wanted some big fancy building with state-of-the art cooling equipment."

There appears to be a serious disconnect between what local citizen Allen Irvine hoped Kawartha Lakes would look into last February and what the city actually did, all of which will be discussed at the March 8 council meeting.

Irvine asked the city to consider the possibility of building “a full-sized outdoor hockey rink with boards, benches, lights and a heated change room” in Lindsay. The city investigated and costed an artificial outdoor ice surface with boards, benches, lights, heated change rooms and a refrigeration system that would keep ice later into the spring. The report estimated a price for the facility at $4 million and argued against the plan writing “staff are not recommending the construction of an outdoor artificial ice facility at this time.”

Irvine has been invested in this project for more than a year and is frustrated by the report and its content.

When asked about the apparent disconnect between the facility the city costed with a full artificial ice refrigeration plant and the humbler rink Irvine was envisioning, Irvine wrote, “We just want a rink with full boards and lights, like a full-sized hockey rink pad…I don’t think the community cares if it is climate controlled or not. We just want an actual outdoor rink, not water sprayed on the grass. The rink/pad could be used for basketball or lacrosse in the summer. No one said they wanted some big fancy building with state-of-the art cooling equipment. They didn’t tell us how they even priced it out. Seems like they just said no, and carried on.”

“I have played hockey my whole life.” Irvine said last March in an interview with the Advocate, “I have kids of my own now and there is nowhere to play hockey outside in Kawartha Lakes…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 conversation with Dunn, Irvine was told that his idea “had never been brought up before.” Dunn suggested that Irvine circulate a community petition to see what kind 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 my petition with friends as did my wife. When we posted it to Facebook 200 signatures became 400 and then 700 in a couple of weeks. The support was unreal.”

Irvine presented his petition to council February 23, 2021 and heard nothing for almost a year.

“I messaged Pat (Dunn) in early January, 2022, and asked if there were any updates on an outdoor rink as winter was coming,” Irvine writes in a recent email to the Advocate. “Pat was able to get back to me and said he did not recall a follow-up from staff. (Pat said) he would ask the manager of parks and recreation and the director of community services to see if they can provide an update.”

Irvine writes he received an email from director of community services Craig Shanks that said there was no workplan or budget currently for any action regarding (an outdoor hockey rink in Lindsay). Irvine was told that other outdoor rinks, largely managed by volunteer committees, and the new Logie Street skating loop would soon be operational.

“I think the city decision is pretty ridiculous,” Irvine writes. “They’re not even considering an outdoor rink. Out of the four or five skating places I went to this year most of the parks were very busy. Then you would have to drive to another park where there weren’t as many people to play a hockey game. I find it mind-boggling that they aren’t even considering to build one even though the need is there and the community has spoken. (The city) talks a lot about what they can’t do instead of trying to figure out why they can. This is very frustrating.”

Shanks did write in his report that there is a plan and staff are preparing for inclusion in the 2023 capital budget deliberation, as per council direction, a project for a concrete pad and shelter-style covering for the outdoor naturalized ice surface in Norland at Ward Memorial Park. Shanks writes that this project will allow for a longer seasonal period of outdoor ice in the northern reaches of the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Something like the Norland project appears to be much closer to the facility that Irvine and his 700 signatures are looking for.

Despite the contents of the report to be presented to council, Irvine remains hopeful.

“I have heard rumblings of the mayor (Andy Letham) retiring shortly so hopefully the next mayor will (make it) his first priority,” writes Irvine.

Irvine also suggested a re-purposing of elements of Ops Arena in a third e-mail to the Advocate. He wondered if the cement pad and boards from Ops Arena could be left after a potential demolition to form the foundation of a new outdoor hockey facility assuming the city goes through with its plans, also to be discussed on March 8, to tear down that de-commissioned arena.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.