Imagine a hot summer day, temperatures are in the low 30’s. You have shorts and a t-shirt on and you’re going ice skating outside. Seems impossible, but it could be in the Sault’s future.
A pilot project is underway at the Market Square with a rink made of synthetic ice for the public to try out. “synthetic ice is not new” explained Roz Staple, sales and marketing for SmarkRink – a company based in Dartmouth Nova Scotia.”it’s been around since the 1970’s, but the technology behind it is much better today”
City councillor Steve Butland brought the idea to Justus Veldman CEO of Riversedge Developments who is footing the bill for the two week pilot at the Machine Shop.
“we spend $65,000 a year for just one of the city rinks, it’s operational for about 50 days during the season – it’s just too too much, that’s the main reason we’re trying it out”
Butland said smaller rinks in town cost about $50,000 a year.
The SmartRink technology can be used inside and out can be configured for any size or shape ideally on a level concrete or asphalt surface. SmartRink has been operating since 2007 and has grown to be one of the largest synthetic ice companies in North America installing over 600 residential, commercial and community rinks to date.
Veldman sees the potential of the SmartRink as another attraction to the Market Square development. “The Sault is a winter city, with this we can expand the ice skating season”
Workers were installing the rink Wednesday. 3 X 4 foot panels fitted together like a puzzle. It wasn’t long that Roz Staple laced up her skates and showed how easy it was to skate on.
Staple said the life of the rink can be up to 30 years, resulting into huge cost savings for the community. The rink being installed for the pilot project would run about $7,000 “with a heck of lot less maintenance as a real ice rink” Butland said.
Staple pointed out that a normal NHL size refrigerated surface might cost $2.5 to $5 million to build, for the same cost 5 to 10 NHL size rinks could be built for the same cost.
For now, the public are invited to try it out as will be hockey players and figure skaters and provide feedback on it before the city further looks into a permanent fixture.