Best of CityPlace

CityPlace Dads & Neighbours Building a Community

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Taylor Pietrobon and Kevin McGeachy are two CityPlace dads who came together to build an outdoor natural ice rink in Canoe Landing Park this past winter.  The weather wasn’t rink-friendly this year, but they’re already getting ready for winter 2017 when the temperature drops again! They talked to 416 Mag about their plans.

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Why do you think CityPlace needs a skating rink?

Winter can get particularly cold when you’re living next to Lake Ontario, and there are not many free, family-oriented outdoor activities. A skating rink would give people a reason to get outside and meet people and other families and really bring our community together.

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How did you come together to start making the skating rink?

Taylor suggested building a natural ice skating rink in Canoe Landing Park on one the CityPlace Facebook groups in 2014.  I thought it was a great idea for the community and for my family—my two boys are just learning to skate. Fortunately for us, there was a lot of volunteer interest.

How did you get people involved?

This was a grassroots project and not a city-run project, so I mediated some discussions to raise awareness on the Facebook group. Taylor originally posted directly on the CityPlace Facebook page and later created the Cityplace Skates! Facebook page which streamlined positive constructive discussions about the rink.

There was a lot of support online, but our volunteer meetings had a small turnout. Now people are aware that we can build this rink with a cold winter, so we’re hoping for a better turnout next year.

Our volunteer base grew in a very organic fashion. Whenever it was cold enough for the ice to freeze, we were at the park flooding the area with a hose the city installed for us. People walking by offered to help us out, so we would exchange contact information. People just needed to see something being done for them to want to partake. Other passers-by would offer us snacks or drinks which were absolutely appreciated.

Winter 2016 was not cold enough to create a natural ice rink, when did you realize it was not going to be viable?

In February, we realized the next few weeks were going to be too warm to create a decent base for a natural ice rink.  There weren’t enough consistent days of sub-zero temperatures, so we couldn’t get the right ground conditions to pour the base ice sheet without losing it during the warmer daylight hours.

How big was the skating rink supposed to be?

It was going to be 50 feet by 100 feet (15.24 meters by 30.48 meters). Next winter, we will build it to the specs of an ice rink liner kit that we intend to procure through some form of fundraising in autumn.

If you have ideas or if you want to volunteer, head on over to the Cityplace Skates! Facebook page.

Diana Pereira

Diana Pereira is a journalist, a university journalism teacher, a world traveller, a fair-weather kayaker, and a frequent bruncher. She's working on her mermaid status, travelling to as many countries as she can that include a body of water and when she's home in Toronto, you can find her in a kayak on Lake Ontario.

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