Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Making of Prince’s Island Park Ice Rink

On a chilly morning in mid-November the excitement, camaraderie and sheer delight of the team installing the Aqua Dam at Prince’s Island Park was a gleeful one. The installation of the Aqua Dam was the first step in creating the sparkling, smooth, skating surface of the Bow River. Citizens had inquired about a rink at Prince’s Island Park for many years and the Park’s staff tried numerous different ways to build a rink for citizens to enjoy. One year, a natural spring popped up in the middle of the rink and ruined the skating surface - this just made the Parks’ team even more determined.

In 2010, ice rink success was found with a pilot rink that included the installation of an Aqua Dam. The Aqua Dam contains upstream water preventing it from causing breaks in the ice.

“Seeing positive response from citizens at the rink here last year really motivated our staff to make it happen again this year,” says Geraldine Henwood, Parks District Supervisor. “Parks operations staff on the island really wanted to make this happen, so over the past few weeks they’ve gone the extra mile to get the skating pond ready in terms of tackling some challenges and rearranging their schedules and other duties,” she said.
The Prince’s Island skating pond has truly become a labour of love for the Parks’ staff. This year, the staff as moved the location of the Aqua Dam to create an ice skating surface twice as large as last year. Parks staff can be found flooding the rink surface at 5 a.m. and checking ice thickness by drilling into it daily ensuring the safety of its skaters.

“It is rewarding to see families skating on the rink and having fun. We’re creating an accessible, winter wonderland in downtown Calgary for everyone to enjoy,” said Mike Gray, Foreman.

Outdoor skating is always weather dependant.  Prince’s Island Lagoon skating is anticipated to be open for Christmas. Check calgary.ca and search “outdoor skating” for up-to-date outdoor skating locations and times.

Submitted by Carissa Vescio.

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