The city has decided to eliminate one of its outdoor rinks this winter.
Each winter, the parks, recreation and culture department operates eight rinks in neighbourhood parks throughout the city.
Two of those rinks - at McKinnell Square Park and Clayt French Park - are created atop pavement.
That “adds a level of difficulty when creating ice,” noted a report tabled at recent budget deliberations at city hall.
The problem is, essentially, when the sun shines, ice over asphalt melts quickly.
Ray Merkley, the city’s director of parks, recreation and culture, pitched a plan to eliminate the lesser-used McKinnell rink and sought $7,000 to move the rink at Clayt French Park off the concrete multi-use pad to a grassy area of the west Orillia park on Atlantis Drive.
The money will be used to purchase a liner and to erect small boards. That move, noted the report, would “extend the ice season.”
City councillors approved the plan - a one-year pilot project. Staff will monitor public inquiries regarding the discontinuation of the rink at McKinnell Park.
Coun. Ted Emond wondered about the fate of the outdoor rinks if the city opts to move forward with a plan to build a refrigerated skate trail at Couchiching Beach Park.
“If we were to proceed with an artificial skate trail, my assumption is that would provide predictability of skating that would probably attract a significant portion” of people who currently use the outdoor rinks, said Emond, who noted the primary goal of building the lakeside skating trail was to attract more people to the downtown core in the winter.
Emond wanted to know how much the city spends to operate its outdoor rinks.
Merkley said the city spends between $40-45,000 annually on the rinks.
“If you were to do a skate trail, one thing you’d look at may be the service level standard,” said Merkley, noting that may translate into operating fewer outdoor rinks in the future.
Other rinks are located at Couchiching Beach Park, First Baptist Church, Hillcrest Park, Homewood Park, Kitchener Park and the Murray Street Park.
Decisions made during budget deliberations are subject to ratification at a special council meeting Dec. 9.