Three outdoor rinks to open by January 30th at the latest

Matilda Memorial Park rink opened Wednesday.

And the work begins – Staff from the South Dundas Recreation Department were working away on January 22nd preparing the Iroquois outdoor rink for flooding. Iroquois is one of three outdoor rinks to open by January 30th. Pictured above in this physically-distanced photo are (l-r): Kent Nugent, Parks and Recreation Supervisor Austin Marcellus, Warren Ball, and Chris ‘Crusty’ Wooters. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

SOUTH DUNDAS – Weather permitting, skaters will be able to hit the ice at three South Dundas outdoor skating rinks by January 30th.

Work began last week at the outdoor rinks in Brinston, Morrisburg, and Iroquois.

Municipality of South Dundas crews are setting up the rinks and flooding, while a group of volunteers will help maintain the ice.

“The volunteers have been great,” said South Dundas Parks and Recreation Supervisor Austin Marcellus. “Everyone is pulling together to get these rinks up and running.”

South Dundas has five outdoor rinks in total. The Williamsburg and Riverside Heights rinks will not be operational to start.

Marcellus said that the decision to only open the first three came, in part, from talking to other municipalities to see what approaches are being taken.

“Our focus is on those three, and if weather and time permits, we’ll open more,” he said.

Each of the rinks will have a maximum of 25 people allowed on the ice at a time.

Maintaining a two metre physical distance from others is required, and hockey sticks and pucks are not allowed.

Marcellus said that skaters will be required to wear a face mask or applicable covering while on the ice.

The amenities will be sparse for this year: some benches off the ice to sit on to put skates on, and lights for when it gets dark. All washrooms and change rooms are closed in accordance with Ontario’s state of emergency order.

There will be signage in place by the time the three rinks open with rules and public health guidance.

The outdoor rinks will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven-days a week, and there will be lights on at all three for evening skating.

Marcellus said that LED tube lighting will be installed along the boards in Morrisburg by the time that rink opens.

This year, Marcellus estimated there are a group of about 10 volunteers who will maintain the ice surfaces, but he said that more help is always welcome.

Staff will assist the volunteers with maintaining ice conditions as needed he explained. There will not be any formal supervision of the outdoor ice rinks.

“Obviously we want to offer as much recreation as possible,” Marcellus said.

“We’re really excited to be able to get this going.”

Another recreation program that is reopening is the sports lending library.

Marcellus explained that skates from the arena, snowshoe and cross-country skiing equipment are available again from the sports lending library program.

While the outdoor rinks are going into operation, the plug has not been pulled on the Morrisburg Arena – yet.

“It’s status quo for now,” Marcellus said.

Municipalities across the province have been in a holding pattern with the provincial lock-down and Stay-at-Home orders in place. Currently the Morrisburg Arena is operational but closed to the public under the provincial COVID-19 measures.

Marcellus added that the municipality will know more once the province announces if emergency measures will be extended beyond February 11th. The final decision to close the arena for the season will be made by South Dundas council.

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