The 50 year old minor hockey association model of using municipal and privately owned refrigerated ice rinks for a mix of practices, development and games is no longer sustainable.
Several years ago I took my daughter skating at our local arena. It was a Tuesday morning parent and tot skate. I paid $3 and we were told to use the Olympic size pad. We skated for 30 minutes and were the only two on the ice.
It occurred to me that entire town had subsidized our skate through their tax dollars. Whether they liked skating or not, they were paying for the glide (water and hydro), lights and resurfacing costs. I thought this was a waste even though the town has set obligations to provide available skating times for their residents.
I had started out selling synthetic ice at the time and thought how a small, low cost rink could have provided just as much enjoyment for my daughter and me.
That's what started the Rethink The Rink initiative.
Many rinks are failing across North America as they reach 40 years old. Usually the ones with Memorial in their name. Upgrading or repair costs can be around $90,000. New facilities run from $3 million to $5 million and take years to approve and build. Meanwhile, ice sport users groups are being squeezed by ice time availability and fees.
There are solutions available to sustain existing member registrations and allow emerging user groups to increase registrations.
Rethink The Rink is an initiative to have municipal governments, community development groups and private arena builders consider green, affordable and safe skating rink alternatives.
Durable plastic polymer, interlocking seamless technology, UV protection, ice blue colour, optional line markings, rated for -40 degrees C to +40 degrees C, resurfacing not required, 100% skateability factor.
Rinks of any size can be used indoor or outdoor anytime of the year, 15 to 20 year use, easy to assemble, stays connected, consistent skating surface at any temperature and amount of use, environment friendly since water and hydro is not required to maintain glide, low operating cost, surface stabilizes skater to reduce risk of injury from falling, reduces exposure to health and safety hazards present at traditional rinks, cost is a fraction of traditional rinks.
City budget cost savings, happy tax payers, lower insurance premiums, more available ice time for youth sport organizations, increase in number of ice sport registrations, lower registration fees or a portion of current fees reallocated to development programs, high satisfaction level of participants.