John Hamilton bought a home facing Canvin Park in Kirkland in 2001 in the hopes that he and his two kids could use the outdoor rink as much as possible. However, this proved to be difficult to accomplish given the poor quality of the ice.
“I understand that the weather is changing and whatnot but this year was the worst because it wasn’t until Jan. 4 (that we could use it),” he complained last Monday at the public council meeting.
Hamilton told the council he is used to going to outdoor rinks much earlier than that in other cities such as Beaconsfield, Ste. Anne de Bellevue and Pointe Claire and skating on very good ice. This year, he was able to skate in Ste. Anne de Bellevue on Christmas day. He thinks the difference in ice quality can be explained by the fact that these other cities use their blue-collar workers to handle the rinks while Kirkland outsources those services to a contractor (Techniparc).
“I think Kirkland pays something like $75,000 a year or something like that for two and a half months. I find that very high for the very poor quality of ice that we have,” he said.
“I think the service in other municipalities is better because of the difference in making ice. Plus, we don’t have the rinks open early enough in the day. The contractors come in at night and we don’t have a supervisor to open up the chalet until usually 5 p.m. or after or sometimes not at all whereas in other municipalities, after school, kids can go to the parks and skate. I think it would be a very good improvement to have a city employee at the parks.”
While Kirkland currently outsources taking care of the rinks for $72,379.64 a year, Mayor John Meaney told Hamilton that the city knows about the rinks problem and is currently looking at taking back the task of making the rinks.
“This year has been a sheer disaster. We went to a new contractor and the snowfall didn’t help matters. When we’re looking at the whole idea of outdoor rinks, one of the ideas that we’re going to ask ourselves once again is ‘is this thing of going to contract working or should we go back at what we did years ago in doing it ourselves?’ I agree 100 per cent: what you see right now is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Responding to another resident who was also mentioning the problem, Meaney said the city is currently putting together a study to look into the issue.
“We are in the process of putting together a study: it’s going to include artificial rinks, finding out what the upgrading cost is, how it would be done, and then we go from there. And then we will also look at what other things are available. It seems that when blue collars are on site, there seems to be better ice conditions,” he said.
According to director general Joe Sanalitro, the study will be completed by the fall.