Former town councillor Paolo Miele has an ambitious ask of the town, one with not a lot of time for a response.
He was at council Monday with a proposal for a community initiative involving three outdoor skating rinks on town property, backed by many residents, some who have volunteered to help, he said.
He suggested one somewhere in St. Davids, one at the community centre and the third in the Virgil Sports Park.
The reason for asking the town’s support and locations, he explained, is the need to be covered by their insurance.
The total cost would be $8,250, $2,750 each, funded privately, said Miele, who has already raised $2,000. He doesn’t anticipate any difficulty raising the remaining amount, he added.
“There’s nothing to be asked from the town or taxpayers,” at least not in the funding of the project.
A local contractor has provided the quote to supply materials and install the rinks. “The only thing we need to do as a community is fill
them, and flood them when needed.”
“We just need council support so we can move forward with fundraising for an installation date early in December,” he said.
Outdoor ice rinks have a short season, he said, “but these will provide long-lasting memories.”
He said he has lots of residents and local business people lined up to help spearhead the initiative, and he’d like service organizations on board, but he is waiting for town support before moving forward.
Being near a water source would be ideal, and volunteers would maintain the rinks, and shovel them, although it would be good to have volunteer firefighters helping with the flooding, as they have in the past when they made ice rinks for their communities.
He is also hoping for sites with washrooms, “and maybe food and beverages available.”
Councillors mentioned there are already outdoor rinks in town, such as those at the Gretzky Winery, Vintage Hotels in the Old Town and Ravine Vineyards, all of which are wonderful locations, Miele said, but their priority is for their guests first.
“This is strictly for our community, for our kids, moms, dads, grandparents, who don’t have to rely on an outside corporation.”
When Lord Mayor Betty Disero asked if he would consider one in Glendale, “if that’s where the need is, that’s where we should go,” he said.
She also suggested an all-season, artificial surface, which she said the St. Davids Lions have been discussing.
“I’m sure we’re all open to anything that gets kids active and outdoors,” Miele answered.
Director of operations Sheldon Randall said he likes the idea of outdoor rinks, but his concern is who will provide the water, the washrooms and who will restore the location when skating is finished.
The proposal needs longer-term planning, with expectations from the town, and time to plan for it appropriately, Randall said, adding staff could open the discussions to have an answer for next year.
While councillors liked the concept, they had problems with some of the details.
Coun. Clare Cameron and others suggested trying to get one rink done for this year.
She approves of the principal of outdoor skating, and has many fond memories of skating with family in Jordan, but “it might be ambitious to do three, and we can’t get something like this done without a staff report.”
Coun. Gary Burroughs suggested they could approve up to three rinks, but look at getting one for this season. “We could have ice within a month.”
Councillors also spoke of the need for volunteers, and getting service clubs involved, without putting any extra pressure on town staff.
Councillors unanimously supported the skating rinks in principal, and approved a motion to ask Miele to provide a written proposal for staff, indicating responsibility for establishing and maintaining three rinks in locations acceptable to staff, and that staff provide the three locations and insurance, if there is an ability to do so, through the town’s insurance provider.