Callander boarding in the Bill Barber Rink

The new boards are up at Callander’s Bill Barber Rink, just in time as hockey and skating season is just around the corner. So concludes the year’s upgrades to the well-used and much-loved outdoor rink behind the Community Centre at 1984 Swale Street.

The major overhaul was removing the asphalt top and replacing it with a thick concrete slab to build the ice surface upon. This work was completed late this summer. Another plus with the concrete is that it is flat, whereas the asphalt was concave. With a flat surface, the pad can be used more in the summer months. For example, the Nipissing Roller Derby team, the Bombshell Bobbers, held practices there.

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“It’s exciting to have the new boards, because we’ve been just getting by with the old ones for all these years,” said Mayor Robb Noon. “We’re grateful for the funding we received for the project, and we’ve been saving the money over the past couple of years to have them installed.”

“It’s such an important part of our community throughout the winter,” he added. All in, the rink upgrades came in at $545,000. The province provided $372,510 and the town saved for the rest. “These important projects take some time to come to fruition,” Noon noted, “but once they do, it’s a great thing to see for our town.”

See: Callander’s Bill Barber rink upgrades underway

There was some discussion amongst council and staff about possibly adding a cover to the concrete pad that would help to prolong the ice and allow for a longer skating season. The pad would have coolant running through pipes to accomplish this goal. It seemed like a better option than installing such pipes within the concrete, as that would have cost about $215,000.

However, after researching the pad idea, it seems that’s an expensive option as well. “We haven’t come up with that exact number yet,” explained Senior Municipal Director, Ashley Bilodeau. “But based on conversations we’ve had with people who freeze ice for a living, you’re really only going to extend the season by a couple of weeks.”

The idea will return to council to see if the additional cost is worth it.

Bilodeau mentioned that an opening celebration to officially commemorate the new improvements is in the works and will probably take place early in the new year.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,