Under the premise that something is better than nothing, Donnie Lewis, Manager of Recreation and Facilities for the Township of South Dundas has erected a small outdoor rink in Morrisburg for the enjoyment of the younger children of South Dundas.
The 32 by 56 foot long rink, which falls well short of a regulation ice surface for hockey, has been put in place at the west end of the arena, along Trillium Street.
Although the entrance, to what will be the ice surface, is currently located on the west ‘street’ side, Lewis is planning to relocate it to either the north or south end, for safety reasons. A safety net has also been erected.
Lewis says, the season was getting along and it was becoming apparent that a decision on a location for the outdoor rink in Morrisburg would not be forthcoming from the municipality.
He and Ben Macpherson, Recreation Program Coordinator for South Dundas, identified five possible locations only one of which seemed to get a favourable response. That was at the Morrisburg beach area, which Lewis, says he felt was a bit out of the way and would be too open to the elements.
The other identified locations were between the two ball diamonds in the Waterfront Park, an area in the Earl Baker Park, in the greenbelt between Highway 2 and the Pinkus Plaza and behind the former Parks Building, just west of the arena.
The latter was the most favoured by Lewis as it is protected from the elements, has lighting, water and is close to the arena.
Lewis says the current rink is just a temporary solution for this year, and that he has enough rink boards available to build a regulation size rink when a location is selected.
Previously the outdoor rink in Morrisburg was located on the south lawn of the old Morrisburg High School. “It was maintained for many years by John Schenk who did a fantastic job,” said Lewis. “John put a lot of long hard hours into maintaining the ice surface, and he transported a lot of water.”
The high school rink location had to be given up to make room for the revamping of the high school. At the time that it was dismantled, Lewis discovered that the boards were in very poor condition and could not be reused.
The boards for a new rink in Morrisburg have been completely rebuilt by students in the Cornwall College Blossoms program. This is a program that teaches students the trades through hands on experience.
“They came here and built four by eight foot board sections,” says Lewis. “We purchased the materials and they provided the labour. I believe there were 11 of them. It worked great for me, and it was great for them.”
“The new boards are made of recycled rubber which is five eighths of an inch thick. They should last forever. In fact we did the outdoor rink in Dundela in 1998, using the same material, and we haven’t had to do any maintenance on them.”
Lewis confirms that with the addition of the small rink in Morrisburg, South Dundas will have five outdoor rinks operating this winter, weather permitting. They include the rink in Riverside Heights under the care of South Williamsburg Recreation, the rink in Williamsburg under the Williamsburg Recreation Association, the rink in Dundela under Wes Moore, the rink in Iroquois under Andy Majors, and now the rink in Morrisburg under Chris Phifer.
“Each of the rinks have their own schedules, and most are open at night and on the weekends,” says Lewis.
As for the Morrisburg mini-rink, he hopes that all children in South Dundas will make use of it. “I didn’t put it up for adult hockey, there just wasn’t enough space. But I put it up for the children of the township.”
Its size should lend itself nicely to younger skaters and to perhaps young hockey players who don’t need a big ice surface. Its location the arena’s west end shields it from wind, and also makes it convenient should the children wish to go indoors to get warm or enjoy a snack.