The sun sets on Red Deer’s outdoor skating rink season this Sunday. File photo by ADVOCATE staff

Closure of outdoor rinks this Sunday ‘about average’ for Red Deer

A city staff member says she was “really thrilled” with the success of Red Deer’s outdoor rinks this year.

All outdoor rinks will close for the season Sunday, due to spring-like temperatures.

Deb Comfort, Red Deer’s neighbourhood facilities and sport supervisor, said the early-March rink closure “is about average” for the city.

“Often, it’s that first week of March that they close. Sometimes, it’s a bit later. Sometimes, it’s a bit sooner, depending on the spring we’re having.

“I know two years ago, it was like plus-20 through February, so we lost them a lot earlier,” she said.

The city aims to open the neighbourhood outdoor rinks in mid-December.

City staff should have the neighbourhood rinks removed “within a month,” said Comfort.

“The parks crews obviously have a lot to do. We have more outdoor rinks than anywhere else in Canada per capita,” she said.

“We have a very robust outdoor rink program, so it does take our parks guys a little bit longer to take them all down, because they’re also trying to do spring cleanup and getting things ready for the summer.

“They have to balance taking the boards down with getting badminton nets and tennis nets up, and that kind of thing.”

The outdoor skating oval at Setters Place was removed Monday.

“We have lines in the ice – little lane lines – for the speedskaters. As soon as the sun hits those darker spots, it melts through. So what happens, is those lines melt faster than the rest of it and it’s not even anymore,” said Comfort.

Public skating at Setters Place is “one of Red Deer’s best kept secrets,” said Comfort.

“It’s a fairly new location and I don’t think people are familiar with the fact that they can go skating there. I would say we’ve got some room to improve the numbers, for sure, but we had some strong numbers over the course of the winter.”

The biggest costs for the skating oval are staff and water, said Comfort.

“The equivalent of four NHL hockey rinks is the surface area of that oval, and it’s up to eight inches in depth, so it needs a lot of water.”

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