Snowy weather has some Red Deerians eager to go for a skate at outdoor rinks, but it’s all up to Mother Nature.
John Eastwood, a supervisor with the city’s parks department, said people are already asking when neighbourhood rinks will be available, but it usually takes until about the early part of December for the ice to be ready.
“Weather is the big factor,” Eastwood said.
“Next week, for example, we’re looking at above-zero temperatures. That makes it very difficult for us to make ice. We need freezing temperatures.”
Environment Canada is calling for a high of -10 C on Friday, but the forecast for next Tuesday is a high of 5 C.
The city will have 77 outdoor skating rinks, the same as last year. They include rinks surrounded with boards for activities such as hockey and ringette, and rinks with snowbank edges for leisure skating.
Bower Ponds and ponds in Westlake and Anders will also be prepared for skaters.
City crews are currently installing the boards for the rinks.
Eastwood said once it’s cold enough, layers of ice will be put down and the thickness will be tested.
“We have to have it thick enough so we don’t have any exposed asphalt or ground. We make sure the ice is of good, safe quality, so we don’t have any issues with injury.”
The city will alert residents when rinks are open.
Eastwood said there have been no cuts to city staff who prepare and maintain the surfaces.
“I think the city has recognized the importance of these types of activities for people during the time that we’re in. It’s a valued commodity in the community. The expectation is that we have those rinks available.”
COVID safety signs will be installed on the boards to remind people to follow the recommendations of Alberta Health Services.