It’s winter in Canada and as it gets colder, residents can’t wait to get their skates on and enjoy some outdoor shinny hockey.
Soon the Scott Seaman Sports Rink will be flooded and people will have the chance to enjoy a brisk skate. Wes Amendt, director of community services for the Town of Ponoka, expects to flood the rink in December when the weather gets colder.
“It’s all dependent on weather and having the right conditions to put the ice in,” said Amendt.
The challenge he sees for the rink is when it is sunny outside, even if it is below 0 degrees C the ice can get soft. “On a sunny day in December or January the ice along the edge of the board where it gets a reflection, the ice starts to melt.”
It takes approximately 10 days for staff to flood the rink and have the ice ready for public use and is easier for them to prepare the ice when the weather is colder. The ice plant uses glycol to help cool the water faster and artificially cools the surface of the ice, explained Amendt. “On the cold days the plant doesn’t have to kick in.”
He feels it would defeat the purpose to put the ice in while the weather is warmer, especially along the north boards of the rink, which has the most contact with the sun.
There have also been several queries about when staff plan to put the ice in and Amendt realizes there is a demand to use it; last year people took advantage of the rink.
Once the ice is in however, staff usually flood in the morning and snow gets plowed off to the north side. One of the changes made to the rink is moving one of the eight-foot doors on the north side to allow snow removal out of the way of skaters.
Kelsey Hycha, Complex operator for the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex, said in an email interview the challenge they face is cooling the ice from the bottom to the top. The reflected light from the sun and reflection off the boards melts the ice on the top. Hycha believes turning up the plant cooling system will not help because of the heat from the sun; he said a roof would help keep the temperature down.
Among the benefits to residents is the fact that it is free to use and there is no need to reserve time as it is available to the public. The town budgets enough for operating expenses and if it does not get used then it is saved for other expenses.
“We budget $10,000 a year for the outdoor rink but that doesn’t include the repairs to the Zamboni,” he explained.
The main costs are for electricity and water but the town may not spend it all in one season. Extra funds are saved for equipment repairs and other unforeseen expenses. The goal is to leave the ice in up to early March but it is dependent on weather conditions, said Amendt.