Neighbourhood rinks opening in Kitchener and Waterloo
More neighbourhood rinks are opening in Kitchener and Waterloo as temperatures drop.
Despite cold winds and blowing snow, Chuck Johnson and his brothers were still on the ice at Thorndale Park Community Rink on Monday.
"We just walk over whenever we want and it's really fun to get some time together," Johnson said.
Many other recreational activities have paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Most of the sports season has to be cancelled, but this doesn't have to be cancelled," Johnson said. "It's just skating, so it's really fun to come out with not a lot to do at home now.
There are 32 outdoor neighbourhood rinks in Waterloo and 30 in Kitchener. Some are already open, while others are a work in progress.
"The best thing to do is to visit your outdoor rink and see the condition and go from there to plan your visits," said Julie Legg, coordinator of neighbourhoods with the City of Waterloo.
Skaters are asked to stay two metres from people they don't live with, consider wearing a mask and act neighbourly.
"If an outdoor rink is really busy and you notice people waiting, take your time to skate and think about others and move on from there," Legg said.
Hockey is permitted on community rinks. Some have specific times when people can play hockey and other slots for recreational skating.
"If we are kind to each other and share the ice and take care of one another, by staying physically distanced, I think it's a great resource to have in our community," said Janice Ouellette, the supervisor of children and youth services with the City of Kitchener.
The rinks are made possible by many volunteers who create and care for the ice. Staff in Kitchener and Waterloo say they have a number of people already signed up to volunteer, but add there's always room for more.
In Kitchener, Ouellette says they are looking to still fill a few volunteer positions, including a rink co-ordinator for Victoria Hills/Gzowski Park. Co-ordinators are responsible for leading the group of volunteers. Ouellette says some other rinks are also being maintained by a single volunteer who could use additional helpers. Those interested can apply online, email the city or call 226-751-6403 for more information.
The City of Waterloo is not actively looking for rink volunteers right now, but says they always can use additional help. Volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of two hours a week. Anyone interested can email email@example.com.
Volunteers have been working since Sunday to create a base at Kitchener's Pioneer Park west rink.
Laura Myers and her fellow volunteers are urging people to be patient for a few more days and not use the ice before the closed sign is taken down.
"It can damage the rink," she said. "It will take a few more days to get it back."