Last winter’s topsy-turvy weather took a toll on many of the island’s outdoor ice rinks, with puddles and slushy surfaces forcing skaters to don their boots and head back home. Pointe-Claire’s rinks and its popular skating oval located in the town’s historic village weren’t spared as warm weather and rain just before Christmas put an end to any thoughts of a holiday outing ‘round the ice.
This year, to ensure quality ice despite inclement weather, Pointe-Claire is investing in two refrigerated surfaces that offer a predictable sheet of quality ice and will greatly prolong the skating season. While traditional rinks are weather-dependent and are typically open from late December through February, city officials anticipate the new refrigerated rinks — that will be located at Valois Park and at the corner of Cartier and Lakeshore Avenues — will be usable from the end of October and into March.
With the project in the works for a number of years, Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere explained that this year’s lower prices and calls from residents for more outdoor recreational opportunities made it an ideal time to invest. “It was really disappointing last year that we didn’t have any ice where we could skate at Christmas,” Belvedere said. “By installing the refrigerated rinks, we’ll be able to have ice early, and our goal right now is to have [the two rinks] up and running by the end of October. If if all goes well, we’ll maybe even have a Halloween costume skate.”
Plans are to keep the rinks open through March so that kids on spring break can enjoy active time outdoors. “The rinks were always hit and miss for spring break, so we’ll see what happens but we may even extend the season into April,” Belvedere said.
Valois Park, at the corner of Belmont and Valois Bay Avenues, will see a 72 feet x 160 feet rink installed over the tennis courts, while a skating oval in Pointe-Claire Village will add to its charm and invite outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy an after-skate treat in one of the local cafés or bakeries.
Quebec-based company Synerglace has been contracted for the project and will produce and install the needed cooling systems. The same company was also behind the much-used rink at Westmount Park last winter that saw residents and visitors enjoying the surface for months.
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Both Pointe-Claire locations will be open to residents and visitors. Belvedere said although the rinks will be open to the public, the city may put hourly schedule times for hockey, free skate etc. “We’ll play it by ear and it will depend on their popularity, but obviously, our goal is to work with the need and make the rinks accessible and easy for everybody to use,” he said.