Kemptville Creek rink aims to be ready for next week, bigger than 2021

KEMPTVILLE, ONT. — While a famous rink, the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, opened on Friday, another lesser-known rink on Kemptville Creek is closing in on the same.

“For some reason the ice and the waterway hadn’t been cleared in about three decades, so that’s something I’ve always wanted to bring back,” said Kemptville resident Herb Cloutier.

He skated on the creek as a kid at Curry Park. Last winter, Cloutier approached city council, offering to revive the outdoor rink with a community grant, which was approved.

“In the weeks that followed, we started building ice,” Cloutier said.

Cloutier also had other plans for the area — a winter carnival — but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic quickly put a stop to that idea.

Kemptville Cree

While the small rink only operated for 17 days in January and February, it was a success, with families eager to be able to skate on the waterway again.

“We had such a variety of users last year,” said North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford. “People who could skate, people learning to skate, kids in strollers and sleds, so it was really a fun, all-inclusive way to get out and enjoy the heart of our community.”

This year the site has been expanded – it is almost five times larger, around 200 by 700 feet.

“It’s like a mini Rideau Canal, that’s exactly what it is,” Cloutier said with a laugh. “We have new lights installed by the municipality and council, and the staff have been just amazing in helping us with that.”

“The municipality has been working on this for about four days now and it will probably take another four days, five days until everything becomes smooth enough that we can possibly see some slippage on it by next weekend,” Cloutier said.

The municipality even built a makeshift Zamboni to use it.

Kemptville Creek

“The end result will be better than using the pipe because it will be a nice conditioned surface,” said North Grenville facilities superintendent Joe Petschenig.

“Our goal is to provide a nice layer of ice for residents of North Grenville and the whole community,” he added.

“We’re making good progress today, anything below minus 10 we’re making good progress,” Petschenig said. “At night we are certainly making good progress with the sun not beating down on the surface.”

“I know we compete with the channel here in downtown Ottawa, but we have a different surface here and different considerations to play with, but we’re working hard to do that hopefully next week. .”

“There’s a lot of nostalgia around skating on this creek from people who grew up here,” Peckford said. “The creek is truly darling, it’s right in the heart of Old Town Kemptville.”

Cloutier will maintain the site once it opens with the help of around 15 volunteers, and also has big plans to create this Winter Carnival when the pandemic ends.

“We did all the planning,” he said. “It’s a collaborative effort. I have volunteers, I have committee members on the Winter Carnival team who have put in a lot of hours and I hope that so far the residents really appreciate it.”

For now, it’s just a waiting game until the ice is thick enough for skating, gloss and even some curling matches that will be allowed.

“It’s very heartwarming for me, as a long-time resident here, to see people come and enjoy our natural waterway in a truly environmental way,” Cloutier added. “It’s so great to see kids and families of all ages come out and enjoy our central waterway.”

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