The city says all outdoor rinks in Ottawa now have a volunteer team and will be able to open this winter.
A number of volunteers came forward after a story aired on CTV about at least a dozen outdoor rinks at risk of not opening this winter unless volunteers came forward.
Al Lopes is one of many to volunteer his time. “We were out until 3 in morning last night giving it a first water,” he says, “It's a commitment.”
That kind of commitment is hard to find, which is why 13 rinks, mostly in Ottawa's east end, specifically Beaconhill and Cumberland, were at risk of not opening.
At Fallingbrook on Deancourt Crescent, the boards are up but the padlock is still on.
“Unfortunately, if volunteers don’t come forward, we have to close the rinks for this season,” says Katy Prusakowski, a city of Ottawa recreation supervisor, “but we're hopeful that residents will notice the rinks aren't open and reach out to the city’s season recreation unit to find out how to help out.”
The city of Ottawa owns about 250 rinks but relies on the community associations to find volunteers to clear and maintain them. A dedicated group has done that at Lakeview Park for years and Karolyn Kelly has benefitted from it.
“They just do it, because they love it,” says Kelly, “I think it's amazing. It is teaching the kids what it's all about and hopefully they grow up with same desire and appreciation.”
“I enjoy coming out here with my friends and just skating,” says Ben Tait, “getting exercise and having fun.”
And that, says Al Lopes, is the reason he is at 3 a.m. making the ice pristine.
“That's why I do it, for the kids,” he says. “I was one of those kids who came to the rink every day and that's where we hung out and that's my way of giving back.”