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It’s the quintessential Canadian wintertime activity — skating in the great outdoors.
But even as oldsters reminisce about the good old days of backyard rinks and pond hockey, the reality of unpredictable weather has meant shorter skating seasons and far too many days of slushy ice conditions. And so hybrid rinks have been popping up around town to help guarantee a five-month season.
Known as refrigerated ice surfaces, they include the rinks at Ottawa City Hall, Rideau Hall, Ben Franklin Place, and Lansdowne Park. Purists may scoff, but the new incarnation of the classic rink is worth embracing.
Now there’s a next-gen outdoor rink that extends the season even further. The Jim Tubman Chevrolet Sens Rink opened early last December beside the Canterbury Recreation Complex in Alta Vista. Designed by N45 Architecture, it’s the city’s first open-air covered rink — one that boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting perfect for Instagram-worthy skating selfies. “When the snow is falling, it’s truly magical,” says Keith Dickie, the design architect for the project.
The roof keeps out snow and has side facings that deflect the sun to further maintain the cooler ice surface. And lest people worry that it’s a one-season space, ball hockey and basketball take over in the off-season.
N45 has made a name for itself designing many of Ottawa’s indoor and outdoor rinks, so Dickie knows what he’s talking about when he suggests covered rinks may be the wave of the future for communities across Canada. — Sarah Brown