A new outdoor ice rink in Newmarket is being touted as a "magical setting" to enjoy winter sport.
“It’s a different experience,” Mayor John Taylor said of outdoor rinks at a virtual town hall meeting last night. “This will bring that different experience and allow … for everybody to participate, in an inclusive way, in many of their favourite outdoor winter sports in a magical setting.”
The new NHL-sized rink is planned for the north field of the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex, on a soccer field close to Eagle Street West and will feature a yet-to-be-designed roof.
The rink is part of the town’s "recreation playbook" and was first identified as a need in 2015. The design is now underway, with construction expected to start in 2023 and take 16 to 18 months.
External consultant PLANT Architect Inc. and town staff said the space would welcome four seasons of programming, with consideration for accessibility and integration with the Ray Twinney complex.
The structure will also feature a roof to protect against the elements. PLANT founder Lisa Rapoport said it would also be visually striking.
“It will make a statement,” she said. “The idea is that it’s a destination and it’s going to have that quality of statement to the backdrop of Ray Twinney.”
Some questions were raised about the cost, both upfront and ongoing. The community has raised approximately $400,000, but the town has said a price point will come later in the design process.
“We're making sure we’re doing this in a way that’s cost-sensitive and we get good value for money,” project management leader Bill White said.
Members of the public also asked about surrounding amenities. The design includes washrooms and a promenade connected to the recreation complex, though planners indicated there would not be any stands or dressing rooms at the rink.
“It is a long walk, especially in skates between the main building and new ice surface,” one anonymous commenter said. “At a minimum, there needs to be benches along the surface for putting skates on and off.”
Taylor said he would like to explore having low-cost or free skate options on-site to allow for access.
Planners spoke to flexibility at the site for other months, including removable boards. Director of recreation and culture Colin Service said the space could accommodate events.
“We would also look at using it as any kind of sport and recreational opportunity that might emerge,” Service said. “It’s very much being designed as a blank slate that allows us to use it in a variety of different ways.”
Residents expressed appreciation for the upcoming facility.
“This is going to be incredible and an amazing addition to the community for years to come,” Tracy Cresswell said.
“Thank you to all residents who took time to be here,” Councillor Christina Bisanz said. “I look forward to seeing how this amenity involves.”
The consultation will be ongoing, with another town hall planned for later this year to discuss the detailed design. You can see information and get project updates at heynewmarket.ca/outdoor-rink.