If you drove by the Edgemont Rink this September, you would have noted that security fencing was up again, and the rink boards were absent. There have been some problems with the product used by the installer 3 years ago. Because the installer has declared bankruptcy, it fell to the City and the ECA to take on repairs. With funding from the City and the ECA, repairs are underway. Hopefully we will have a cold winter and good ice again this year.
We’ve had a rink at this location since the early 1980’s, with boards staked up on grass each year by volunteers, lights and the boards provided by the city. In 1998, after the city got out of the rink business, the community association built a storage building and a permanent outdoor rink on an asphalt pad.
That rink survived until three years ago and then was extensively upgraded with new boards, new high efficiency LED lighting, and wiring moved underground. It is hoped that with this latest repair effort, the new rink will last a few decades.
The rink has had a steady flow of volunteers to keep it maintained. In the early days the hydrant was a long way away and we had to hook up three fire hoses to get water down to the site. We had a snow blower and shovels and a dedicated volunteer named Barry Palmer who lived next to the rink and devoted vast amounts of time to keep it in great shape. He also taught many people, including myself, how to clean and flood ice. Over the years we upgraded to a much closer water supply, a powered snowbrush and blower but it still takes lots of shovels and the volunteers to use them. In the depths of winter, we get out a few times a week to clean and flood if the weather cooperates and the skaters clean the rink ice every hour or so when they play.
Our hardest days as rink keepers are immediately after a major snowstorm. If we are not quick, the kids beat us to the rink and heap the snow inside the boards and then lose pucks in the piled snow. When these are found by the snow blower there is either a puck blown out into the field or more often the machine jams and the shear pins break.
Due to the perverse sense of humor of Mother Nature, the machines like to break down after a storm. One year when the snow blower was in for repair and there had been a foot of snow dropped overnight, I trudged down at 9 am to start the nasty task of shoveling off the rink by hand. Much to my surprise, and delight, a hard-working volunteer named Duncan had come out early and shoveled off the rink by himself; when I got there the sweat-covered Scotsman was putting on his skates and getting ready to have a little exercise.
Remember when you come down to the rink for a skate or to play hockey that there are many volunteers who made this possible. The Community Association, the City, the Government of Alberta, and the Government of Canada have all contributed over the years to the rink. Enjoy and remember we are always looking for volunteers, if you grab a shovel when we are cleaning and lend a hand it is greatly appreciated.
One of my fondest memories of the rink is spending a few hours cleaning and brushing after a snowfall in the quiet park with not a person in sight. I went to put the machines away and turned around to see a half dozen young hockey players looking at me. I swear they had been lying in the snow in wait for the ice to be ready. All they said was, “Thanks, are you going to flood now, or can we play now?” In the last few years I have run into several young adults who tell me of the many hours they spent on that rink in their youth. The Edgemont rink has been, and continues to be, an important part of our community.
[Ed. Note: Rick Wierzbicki and his team of volunteers are true Edgemont heroes. Every year Rick threatens to retire his shovel and every year he shows up to clean and flood the rink.]