Bracebridge Council authorizes staff to seek a contractor for Memorial Park ice rink
Bracebridge Council approved the search for a contractor for the Memorial Ice Rink, in the November 15, 2023, meeting.
Staff initially recommended the General Committee close the rink in the November 7th meeting, however, Committee members agreed to investigate options for portable ice.
In today’s meeting, Council agreed to direct staff to find a contractor that understands the challenges of maintaining the rink during inclement weather.
Councillor, Tatiana Sutherland, continued to express concern about the ice conditions and the importance of the community “being well served” regarding a long-term reliable option for the rink, “where we get the most bang for the buck.”
She also emphasized the need for it being available more than 20 days.
Councillor, Andrew Struthers, indicated that he received public feedback about the potential closing of the rink during the past week. He said, “This issue is important to them,” and mentioned the potential for volunteers that may be available “to keep it alive and well.”
He added that the recent amendment to seek alternatives allows for the chance to create ice that is safe and well maintained. “I support having an outdoor community venue in winter… I think that’s something we really need to provide to residents.”
Councillor, Don Smith, concurred with Struthers, indicating that the decision “provides flexibility to staff regarding challenges they had… This provides an opportunity to move forward to this season and take a deeper dive from the following season.”
He also indicated that he has received a lot of feedback from seniors that don’t skate but support the rink remaining open for the younger skaters.
Councillor, Barb McMurray, also supports the rink initiative moving forward. However, she expressed concerns about the number of days it has been open in the past. She said, “20 days doesn’t make sense to possibly put out $15,000.” She advised that the Town needs to hire someone that understands the climate and how to work with the temperatures, “so we can maximize the number of days as much as possible.”
She added, “We can have 90 days, but we haven’t been able to meet that standard.”
Manager of Facilities, Will Crowe, indicated that he spoke with someone that previously maintained the ice up until 2019. He said he was advised, “To ensure the ice is at a skateable level, it’s all about the prep work.”
The contractor will assist the Town this year “to ensure the base is up to that standard,” said Crowe.
Councillor, Archie Buie, said, “This is a gem that we want to keep going.” He suggested that staff need the support to ensure efficiency moving forward.
Mayor, Rick Maloney, indicated that he has had discussions with staff about Mayor funding they have available to still be able to provide the free skate option at the arena - the alternative initially offered to replace the outdoor rink. He said they have a small budget to keep this option open “as the Mayor’s Public Skating.”
Staff will investigate options for contractors to maintain the rink long-term and report back to Council.