Dream rink for ice skaters

Photo by Tyler Hodgekinson

"Rink of Dreams" is located at the Brick by Brick park in Oshawa.

Ice skating has been a Canadian tradition for generations, however, one look around Durham Region reveals a lack of outdoor rinks. Gliding on ponds was a common practice now frowned upon, and city-funded boards are a rarity.

The city of Oshawa has municipal programs allowing volunteers to build and maintain outdoor rinks. Cristan and Steve Doupe, and Dave Rout felt it was their duty to “step up” and help build an area for all to share in their hometown.

The result is the ‘Rink of Dreams’, located at the Brick by Brick park on John St., just south of the Midtown Mall. It is used for both skating and hockey.

Cristan Doupe says the idea came from a “love for hockey” shared by her, her husband and her son’s coach.

The ‘Rink of Dreams’ was brought to the public in 2015 as part of a Gofundme page. The initiative raised $60, far less needed than to produce and upkeep the rink St. Louis Bar & Grill donated plastic for the structure.

The ice was installed, and Oshawa residents got to skate.

“We were able to get a month and half of good skating,” says Doupe.

Like last year, Doupe and her fellow volunteers are responsible for the upkeep of the rink.

Local businesses stepped up once again this winter to help the Doupes and Rout with costs. Riley’s Pub, Justice Burger and Smoke’s Poutinerie all donated money to go towards the plastic needed for the rink.

Doupe also credits the Oshawa Fire Services in the success of the ‘Rink of Dreams’. The response team was unable to use nearby fire hydrants due to city regulations, however, they did have 10 fire trucks dispense 13,000 gallons of water.

Despite help from the community, not all aspects about the rink have been positive.

“We have had a few incidents of vandalism, which hurts the fun for everyone,” Doupe says.

According to the hockey mom, some people walked across the freezing water, leaving massive footprints in the structure. The surface needed to be reconstructed.

Due to safety concerns, Durham Region generally does not allow public skating on ponds. However, some areas of water, such as Elgin Pond in Uxbridge, have a flag-based system telling the public when the pond is safe enough to skate on.

But if positive comments on Smoke’s Poutinerie’s Facebook page are any indication of satisfaction, the Oshawa residents seem content with just the ‘Rink of Dreams’.

“What a great idea! Grew up in the Beaches in Toronto and as a kid we had four outdoor rinks to [choose] from…glad this is happening,” wrote Jason Govereau.

As for the builders of the rink and other Oshawa residents, skating is a daily activity, weather permitted.

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Tyler Hodgkinson is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. He enjoys writing about entertainment, with a focus in video games. Tyler can be heard on Riot Radio as one of the hosts of Digital Circus. He hopes to work at Electric Playground Network in the near future.