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Want to get kids outside to play? Make an ice rink


If somebody asks me what is the most “Canadian” thing I could think of, I would say ice hockey and free skating.  In Toronto we have many ice rinks run by the city but we also have a number of natural rinks in city parks that are run by the local community. In our community we have tried to make an ice rinks for some time and last week it was finally cold enough to make it happen. This weekend it was such a joy to see all the kids and families skating and it sure is nice to have it so close.

There are many fantastic web sites that can help guide you to the best way to make your rink. Natural ice rinks break down into two designs. Using a large plastic liner or compacting and freezing a snow base. Both have pros and cons with the plastic liner being the quickest in the flood and freeze like a tray of ice cubes. The other method takes more time flooding to build up the ice as you go.


Regardless if you use a continuous liner held in place by retaining boards or the old school method of building ice on a compacted snow surface you will find that by simply freezing water you will not only create a great place for kids to enjoy being outside, you will watch your community grow in ways you didn’t believe possible.


And that is the magic. There will be challenges: unseasonably warm weather, volunteer shortages and other unforeseen speed bumps that any community project can experience. But, on the day that the rink was done and the first family strapped on their skates and started gliding around the rink I couldn’t stop smiling. As I looked out the back window that overlooks the park the only thing that made me smile more was when the next family walked onto the ice and the next after that.

Who knew that a relatively simple community endeavor using a hose and a city water connection could help kids get outside and moving in the winter months while at the same time show kids, parents, grandparents and even dog walkers that it is outdoors where we truly share our experiences.

About Russell Gienapp

Russell is a two time Gemini nominated Director of Photography in the film and television industry. He feels lucky to make his living doing what he loves in life. Being a cinematographer demands skills both creative and physical. His office ranges from steamy tropics to icy winter conditions where he has learned the importance of having the proper gear.He is also Kari's husband and a part of His videos for has got over 111,343 views on youtube.

You can follow him on twitter : @Documatographer


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