The Town of Newmarket is dusting off old plans for a regulation-sized outdoor rink next to the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex, now that it is clear there will be no ice pad included in the design for the Mulock Arboretum.
The town was considering an outdoor rink at one of the community centres as a way to compensate the community for the loss of the Hollingsworth Arena after it was decommissioned.
When the town purchased the Mulock property at the corner of Yonge Street and Mulock Drive in 2018, it was thought that the new ice pad could be located there as part of a new public park.
But earlier this month, the consultants tasked with creating the new park presented council with their designs. Instead of a rink, the design proposes a half-kilometre skating trail. Now the town is circling back to the original plan of having the pad located outside a community centre.
The location they are now considering is next to the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex. On Monday, town staff asked council for authorization to issue a request for proposals from companies to do the design work.
"I think this is great," said Councillor Kelly Broome. "I am glad this didn't get lost in translation when we moved forward with the Mulock property."
Staff said moving forward on the new ice pad is important because of how long it has been since the Hollingsworth Arena has been closed, as well as the increased demand for outdoor recreation during the pandemic.
They also noted in their report that a rink can be put on the property with minimal impact to sports fields, but it may require changes to parking lots and driveways.
Commissioner of community services Ian McDougall said that the design they are envisioning is a covered rink, although the roof may be added later depending on costs. It would also have a refrigeration system for maintaining ice temperature.
"If it is not located immediately next to the (recreation complex) building, it may also require a small outbuilding to support ice making and maintenance, as well as a small change area," said McDougall.
Staff want the design to include significant seating for spectators.
"It's really meant to be a public space for activities such as shinny hockey, public skating, figure skating, and being a more casual, passive kind of facility. A low-cost to no-cost kind of thing," he said.
But they do want the rink to be big enough to meet NHL-size regulations and accommodate other "unique activities."
When asked by council about potential timelines, McDougall said the design work could be done over the course of 2021, with the project ready to be included in the 2022 capital budget.
A final price tag for the rink will likely not be known until the design and costing are complete. Community fundraising campaigns and sponsorships have collected $400,000 toward the project to date. The rest of the cost is expected to be paid for with money from development charges, which developers pay to the town to support amenities and services.
Mayor John Taylor said he was happy to see projects like this moving forward despite the financial challenges posed by the pandemic.
"We will have ongoing budgetary discussions to consider, obviously, but if we have learned anything from all this is that physical experiences, especially for youth, are absolutely central."