With the COVID-19 lockdown upon us, and the post-holiday winter blues starting to creep in, Hamiltonians are looking for ways to get outside and enjoy all that winter has to offer.
In many cases, residents are stepping up in a big way to give their neighbours a reason to get out and get moving by volunteering to maintain one of the city’s many community rinks.
According to Steve Sevor, Manager of Sport Services for the City of Hamilton, there are currently 33 rink locations that have a dedicated community volunteer.
“Across the city, there are approximately 65 parks with the necessary infrastructure in place for community rinks,” Sevor said in an email.
In fact, the city is looking for more volunteers who might be interested in helping get more rinks in parks throughout the city up and running.
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The City of Hamilton has several outdoor rinks that require reservations for skaters in order to limit the number of people on the ice and they are meant to be used by residents of Hamilton only. As it stands, bookings are required days in advance to accommodate the demand.
Community rinks, however, don’t require reservations and are meant to be used on a first-come-served basis.
There are currently more than 30 possible locations across Hamilton where the infrastructure is available for an outdoor rink but there are no volunteers to help maintain them.
“We’ve seen a slight decline over the last few years of committed volunteers, coupled with the weather patterns that were not conducive to ice rinks,” Sevor said. “However, the number of available locations has remained the same.”
Staff with the city rec department will provide information and guidance about rink maintenance to volunteers. The deadline to apply to volunteer your time as an individual or group to maintain one of the rinks is Friday (Jan. 8)
As far as enforcing COVID-19 protocols, that will not fall to volunteers, who are required to follow Public Health guidelines while they’re in the process of maintaining the rink but rink users will not be screened and it will be up to individuals to employ proper COVID-19 precautions.
“Outdoor community-led rinks are treated in a similar manner to outdoor playgrounds in that use of the facility is at the risk of the patrons,” Sevor explained.
“Volunteers follow COVID precautions and keep a record of when they attend the rink to do maintenance of the ice, which occurs when users/patrons are not there (usually late at night).
“At community-led rinks, there is no attendance taken and no active screening of users/participants.”
To find out if your neighbourhood park is eligible for a rink, and to apply to volunteer to maintain one of the city’s community rinks, visit the city’s website.
Parks listed on the city’s website are the only approved locations because each year, according to Sevor, City of Hamilton Parks staff review and confirm which sites have the necessary infrastructure to support community ice rink operations.
“New locations are only eligible if they have the capital funding to support the required infrastructure,” he said in the email.
“Parks staff are working on a multi-year plan to help address the high cost of new infrastructure for future.”