Work to begin this week on new outdoor rink in Mindemoya

Work is well underway on the oval skating track at the ‘A’ ball field in Mindemoya.

MINDEMOYA – The outdoor skating rink in Mindemoya is going ahead this winter.

At their regular meeting last week, Central Manitoulin council considered a recommendation from its finance and economic development committee for council to have “staff pursue the creation of a 12-foot-wide outdoor skating path oval at ‘A’ ball field in Mindemoya and to maintain it with volunteers and internal support for the month of February, 2021 as long as temperatures permit.”

“I think we had something from Marcus (Mohr) (community development/outreach co-ordinator for the municipality) on this,” said Mayor Richard Stephens.

Councillor Dale Scott said that Mr. Mohr had the costs involved in establishing and maintaining the outdoor rink would be $400 per week. “We still don’t know if we are going to close the Mindemoya arena for this season, but the costs of that would offset the new outdoor arena and the rink would probably only be in place for a month. It will provide recreation and be a good exercise for looking at what we can look at next year.”

Mayor Stephens questioned if this proposal would only go ahead if all the municipal arenas are closed. 

“No, we are going to do this, we need to do this (open the outdoor rink),” said Councillor Rose Diebolt. “Marcus has done a lot of work on this and keep in mind there will be no winter carnival this year. We need to provide this rink as an activity to benefit everyone’s mental health.” 

Councillor Steve Shaffer was also in favour of going ahead with the creation of the outdoor rink. “I definitely think should this should go ahead immediately; it will benefit users’ mental health. Marcus has done a lot of work on this and we have already closed one of our arenas and are considering the same for Mindemoya. Having this rink will be a great test for the community to get together this year and when we consider proposals in the future.” 

“I’m torn a little on this issue,” acknowledged Councillor Angela Johnston. “My concern is who will do all the work, and while the location is okay, I’m not in favour of it being a permanent location. I agree that it will help with mental health, my only concern is who is going to be doing all the work.”

Councillor Derek Stephens noted he was a little concerned over the idea of using the fire department equipment to make the ice, indicating the municipal fire chief has never been contacted on this. “And who’s going to monitor the rink to make sure everyone is social distancing and wearing masks; we’ve seen the problems with this in other areas.”

Councillor Tribinevicius said he hoped members of the public step up to volunteer to help out, including users of the rink to self police the enforcement of the current social distancing rules. “I have faith in them,” he said. 

Councillor Derek Stephens was the only member of council who opposed the motion, in principle.

The original idea had been raised in January by local resident Maja Mielonen, who proposed having an outdoor ice rink for skating and hockey, linear skating track, groomed cross country ski trail and skate ski strip in the future and helping to set up a committee to look at this. However, council did not support having this being established in an area on Lake Mindemoya for this year.

“I was very pleased that council changed its mind on this issue and the public outdoor skating opportunity is going ahead this year,” Ms. Mielonen told the Recorder, noting several other Island communities have done the same. 

“Indoor rinks are so limited this year,” said Ms. Mielonen. “I am pleased council listened to its residents and are providing the opportunity for creating a skating rink and space to do so. I hope it will lead to council listening to other groups and taking their input positively. Having this outdoor rink will provide accessibility for people to get outside and be active. It will help lighten everyone’s mood and mental health because people can meet each other outside, even if it is at a distance.”