Outdoor Rink meeting with Community Leagues
The EMHA, the EFCL and 18 community leagues gathered at Crestwood Community Hall on Saturday, January 29 to discuss what we (EMHA/EFCL and community leagues) can do to support programming and the use of outdoor rinks in Edmonton.
We were joined by Bill Whitefield of Sports Central and a couple of special guest presenters: David Proden of the E4C Learn to Play Hockey program and Shirley Barton of Belvedere Community League.
If, for whatever reason hockey can no longer support this requirement then perhaps there are other ways we can work together to support community league rinks, and entry level programs in the communities. More on this later.
Community Leagues have 120 rinks city-wide!
Saturday however was not about hockey-community league politics, but about the challenges leagues face running outdoor rinks and what leagues can do to enhance the use of community league ice.
There are some inspiring things happening in leagues in Edmonton. Shirley Barton of Belvedere started looking after the ice in this north-end neighbourhood talked about their program at Belvedere.
What Makes a Successful Rink:
Here are the top eight things that make a great rink in a Community League according to Shirley:
- Rink attendent with a positive attitude and is approachable
- Hours of operation are clearly posted
- Telephone answering machine reflects the hours of operation and closures due to weather
- Assurance that the community league is a safe place to drop off children
- Communicaton with local schools about rink times
- Lights on nightly, even if there are no skaters, people come if they see the lights
- Music playing on the rinks
- A rink shack concession
For Shirley, those are the key ingredients of a great outdoor rink program in a community. She also suggests a few other add-ons that can really make a league's rink get popular:
- Learn to skate programs from the City
- Equipment loaning on site (skates and other equipment)
- Relationship with Sports Central - community leagues can refer folks to them to get skates and equipment
- Yearly photos of skaters posted on bulletin boards - builds a sense of history
- Community rink events: hot dog Sundays, milk jug curling, skating games, hockey skill competitions or a 3 on 3 tournament
- Skate sharpening on site - Belvedere has skate sharpening right on site, a popular thing!
As you might have guessed Belvedere has a successful program.
From the Floor:
At the January 29 meeting, the folks present also broke into two groups and talked about challenges and some ideas for improving programs.
- Community league folks mentioned the following challenges and ideas for improving rink programs:
- Ice not level
- Old rinks
- Insurance - hockey teams covered if the coach says ice ok (from hockey folks)
- CL insurance probably ok if community league is in control of facility - so rentals for $ might be different?
- Staffing/volunteer shortage can be issue
- Group buys for equipment, snow blowers
- Share old equipment, excess equipment
- Build-it event to level rink and refurbish boards etc. – one league did it for $3,000
- Rink hours must be predictable
- Lights on, Music on
- Rink not locked and open all the time – several examples of this
- Open late - 11 pm - adult groups use it after 8 pm
- Send email to Hockey Edmonton about ice availability
- Corporate and family rentals are possible?
- Love to do 3 on 3 tourney with other leagues
- Would like more attention on outdoor rinks and programs
- Love this meeting - need more networking for rink & program people in CLs
A number of leagues have experimented with offering the use of skates and equipment and many note that this does allow significant numbers of kids to skate and even try pushing a puck around the ice.
One reaction to the meeting was agreement that networking for rink attendants and program people is a really good idea!
Many of the community leagues attending the meeting already host winter events ranging from simple events to full-fledged winter carnivals.
A number of folks thought it is a really good idea to have a City-wide winter community day to promote outdoor rinks and programs.
Community leagues have many excellent ideas, but the question remains how hockey can work with their founding partners in Community Leagues to support and promote the biggest supply of outdoor ice in Edmonton and support and encourage programs at the community level.
January 31, 2011