BRANTFORD -- The winter season is here and it means more people will be heading outdoors to use community ice rinks.

In Brantford, it’s been challenging to keep up with all of the neighbourhood rinks.

“The city was having trouble finding enough volunteers to keep all of the rinks open and maintained,” said Noah Lach, a Wilfrid Laurier University student.

Lach says research revealed that one of the biggest issues the city had involved getting volunteers because the flooding and reporting process was difficult.

“Every day we do an inspection report and we talk about things like the weather conditions, the ice conditions, the perimeter around the rink, and lighting,” said Chris Tolhurst, a long-time rink volunteer. “We have to write that report on a piece of paper with a Sharpie that’s frozen or wet.”

A group of WLU students confronted this problem by developing a new program for the City of Brantford to eliminate those challenge.

The program eliminates paperwork and replaces it with an easy virtual option.

Staff are hoping it’s a game changer.

“We don’t have to worry about wet paper,” said Lori-Dawn Calvin, the city’s community recreation and events manager. “The volunteers really appreciate having the opportunity filling it out electronically and in the warmth of maybe their vehicle.”

“By creating this web-based app, we really are hoping to drive up volunteerism and in turn, create more opportunities for people in the community to come and enjoy the ice rink,” said Anna Bolger, one of the students who helped developed the program.

The city says all of the 200 rink volunteers can easily download the program onto their phone, where they can quickly input updates on the rink conditions and maintenance.

“Any type of maintenance questions,” said Christina Stiller, one of the program developers. “If they have a maintenance shed or if they’re missing any tools, shovels, or anything to do with the rink.”

The new process could mean more ice time for people in the community to enjoy.