COMMENT: How neighbourhood rinks connect our communities

Bandmaster neighbourhood skate on February 18, 2018.

Sunday afternoon was a bittersweet day at the Bandmaster Park skating rink in Fairwinds.

Dozens of kids and parents came out for our community association’s neighbourhood skate, a modest event with music and hot chocolate.  We had a great turnout and lots of smiling faces on a very sunny Sunday afternoon (I got a sunburn on my face). It was a great way to connect with neighbours, get outdoors, and get some exercise.


Sadly, with warm weather and rain in the forecast all week, it was probably the last day of the season for our little rink.

There are nine official outdoor skating rinks in Stittsville, all run by volunteers with a bit of funding and infrastructure help from the City of Ottawa.

Every one of the rinks (and the volunteers who maintain them) are a small but important activity that contributes to life in our community in a big way.

Vibrant, safe and inclusive communities are built on connections between people. When we create opportunities for neighbours to get together, whether it’s at the local rink, at a street BBQ, or even at a trivia night at the local coffee shop, we start to create those connections.

These are all icebreakers, if you will, that build trust, empathy, pride and identity.  That’s how you start to foster a healthy neighbourhood.

Not to mention the recreation benefits. Former Sens president Cyril Leeder recently tweeted: “Outdoor rinks and awesome community volunteers. Its why we have more hockey players and gold medals than any other nation.”

From early morning until after dark yesterday, kids were skating on our neighbourhood rink. It’s been like that every weekend this year, in bitter cold or on days where the ice has almost melted down to the grass. Hats off to rinkmaster Marc Servant and all the volunteers for another great season!



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