If there is some comfort to be found from this now extended lockdown, it’s that outdoor parks, trails, tobogganing hills, and ice rinks have remained opened as exercising options in our local neighbourhoods.
On the topic of skating however, up until very recently with more steady colder temperatures , we only had a handful of options to enjoy a free skate within Hamilton’s city limits.
There are four outdoor rinks run by the city that require reservations. They are the Bernie Morelli Centre – Serafini Family Outdoor Ice, Dundas Driving Park, Freelton Community Park, and Waterdown Memorial Park. You need to set up a recreation account to book ice times, but skating is free. Here is the link to get yourself setup and book your ice time.https://www.hamilton.ca/recreation/outdoor-ice-seasonal We have been to the Serafini Ice Pad numerous times from the first skate at 8:30am, to the last one that finishes at 9:20pm. With all the new amenities, it’s a fun spot to listen to some music, enjoy the sites, and get a little exercise.
There is also the Pier 8 ice rink next to Williams Fresh Cafe run by the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. Although you do not need to book ahead, you should plan to be there an hour or so before with only 25 skaters allowed at a time. The Waterfront Trust website is http://www.hamiltonwaterfront.com/
Another fun private option, are two rinks at the old Hanran’s at 92 Barton St E at Catharine St N. It’s a large site that has multiple shipping containers ready for an outdoor market when COVID allows, a snack hut, a lighted trail, and two outdoor skating rinks. One rink is cooled and has boards for the new skater, but the other is still awaiting cold enough temperatures to finally set. We have been skating there during the day and at night. Both are fun experiences but the nighttime is neat to see with all of the lights. We were lucky enough to see the trail before the lockdown, but not at night yet. It’s $6 a person and must be booked in advance from their website at https://modrnevents.com/book-now/#start-booking-classes.
Until recently, I hadn’t even thought of Princess Point in Cootes Paradise. First, I have never skated there and second, it doesn’t exactly pop up in your search for outdoor skating. Of course, because it’s a marsh, you should check the Royal Botanical Gardens website before venturing off to enjoy a skate or hockey game there. At the time of writing this, the last update was that the ice is only 3” think and a thickness of at least 4” is required for safe skating conditions. You can check for updates at https://www.rbg.ca/gardens-trails/by-attraction/trails#skating
Now that it has been steadily cold, more and more community ice rinks are now offering skating. HAAA, Gage Park, and Inch/Eastmount Park are a few that I have heard of these past few days. For a complete list of parks that have volunteers to run community rinks, you can visit https://www.hamilton.ca/winter-activities-in-hamilton#Skating You can also volunteer to be the lead in a community park in your community, with the deadline being mid-December to add your park to the list.
One park missing from this list is Belview Park which is also in Crown Point. It is situated behind Holy Name of Jesus at Cannon and Belmont. Although the ice is not formed yet, the frame and tarp have all been laid, the water has been turned on, and fire hoses supplied for us to get started in building up the ice. It took a bit to get going as a few things had to be taken care of by the city and contractors as it’s been awhile since the onsite building has been used for community ice.
For community-led ice rinks, the city provides a key to the shed, fire hoses, shovels, and heaters to keep the pipes and hoses from freezing, but the volunteers are responsible for things like wood, supports, tarps, etc. Many communities fundraise for these costs and we are no different. You can find our fundraising page below. We are asking for a few extra dollars for emergencies and to pick up a couple of skating supports for the kiddos to keep in the shed. Everything will be kept to use again next year pending their condition, and will remain the property of Friends of Belview Park. I have set up a Facebook group for us to share what is going on at the park from our yearly Pumpkin Prowl event, to the status and condition of the ice surface. Please note the COVID restrictions and requirements posted at the park.
If you have any questions about the Belview ice surface or you want to volunteer, you can email me at Larry.Pattison@socialeducation.ca and I can forward you the volunteer waiver to sign.
This is all great news as until the outdoor rinks had become available, there had been no indoor free skates available with hockey and other leagues who utilize our arena’s needing extra ice time due to COVID restrictions.
It’s a great time to fall in love with winter again and now that the temperatures are colder, those options keep growing. However, COVID has also highlighted the need to grow our city-led outdoor infrastructure to encourage active living year round. It’s now the beginning of February and it was only this past week, that community-led rinks were able to take some pressure off the city and privately run outdoor ice surfaces in this 550K resident city.
And that’s The Point.