Backyard rinks gaining popularity amid COVID-19 pandemic

With COVID-19 restrictions putting a cap on capacity for public skates, the demand for backyard ice rinks has started heating up.

“We’ve actually added a second shift so we’re in here on weekends and we have a shift in the evening as well to keep up because we ave been extraordinarily busy,” said Chas Birkett, the owner of Rink Master.

“There’s lots of demand in Kitchener-Waterloo, and even across Canada. But it’s great to see people are trying to make the most out of a tough situation,” said Jacob McKendry, the director of sales for First Line Rinks.

The rinks can be customized to fit the needs of the family and size of the yard, ranging anywhere from 15 feet by 20 feet up to 60 feet by 100 feet. There's options of natural ice or a refrigerated backyard rink depending on your budget.

For Joe Willmott and his family in Puslinch, the decision to start installing a rink was an easy one.

“With things shutting down all the time, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. Something to get the kids outside and exercise and it’s just a lot of fun. You can create an atmosphere for the whole family, with a fire pit and lights. It’s a lot of fun,” said Willmott.

Willmott is so passionate about creating this unique winter experience, he is helping his neighbours make their own.

“There’s nothing like sitting out there on a cold night under the stars flooding your rink, just making it perfect,” said Birkett.

Cold weather is key when it comes to maintaining your rink, and with temperatures dropping heading into the beginning of December, both the Rink Master team and Willmott say now is the perfect time to start building.