Outdoor rinks are fun for users, hard work for those who maintain them


Fixing the ice up: Jennifer Murray at the Triwood outdoor rink on Jan. 16. The Murrays have been responsible for the flooding and overall maintenance of the rink for five years. (Photo by Carter Bews/The Press)

The Triwood Community outdoor rink received some major modifications earlier this winter when community members set the rink up for the season.

The side-boards commonly found on most outdoor rinks were left out at Triwood this year, due to concerns over labour and lack of manpower to properly maintain the ice.

“It’s really physical work,” said Jennifer Murray, who has helped maintain the ice the past few years.

“It may seem like a simple task of just flooding and shoveling but what some people fail to realize is that the amount of time and effort that goes into it has become very taxing on the group of people who maintain the rink,” said Murray.

Community members have always had the responsibility of  maintaining the outdoor rinks in their areas. With residents in charge of the Triwood rink getting closer to their 60’s, removing the side boards offered a way of minimizing the manual labour of the job.

Murray’s son, Alastair who has spent many cold evenings playing on the rink in years past, understands the effort that goes into making the Canadian fantasy a reality.

“As a kid you don’t really think of the other side of anything that you enjoy really,” he said.

“You show up, tie your skates and play hockey with your friends for a couple of hours and that’s that.

“But as I’ve gotten older and volunteered to help maintain the rink I realize how much work really goes into it,” said Alastair Murray.

Jennifer Murray said that it takes a six-man team to finish the entire flooding process in one evening.

“Everything that goes into a night of flooding is quite tiresome, from unravelling the heavy hose, to pushing the snow blower and shoveling. It all becomes really hard work, especially in -20 C weather most of the time.”

The lack of boards has definitely had an effect on how much the rink gets used, says Alastair Murray.

“I know me and my buddies will always find a different rink with a full board set-up even though Triwood is so close,” he said.

It’s easy to understand why the outdoor rink crew would want to make their jobs easier given the age of most volunteers and the amount of work that needs to be done to ensure a successful flood, but Jennifer Murray wonders if the community association could make a better effort in do more to advertise the need for more assistance.

“Personally, I love going out and being with our friends and peers working together to do this nice thing for the community,” said Jennifer Murray.

“It’s just a matter of getting word spread and getting more volunteers out to help,” she said.

The no-sideboard experiment having proven controversial this winter, the Murrays believe that they will go back to a full board setup next winter.

“The lack of people coming out to the rink due to the fact of not having side boards makes the whole point of the rink obsolete,” said Alastair Murray.