Can we save open-air skating?


 Rotary Pad opening (photo by Darcy Cheek)

It was easy to see, while covering Monday's opening of the Rotary pad rink, why some folks might resist the idea of covering the rink with a roof.

I heard this opinion from a highly credible source who requested anonymity.

It would be a shame, this person said, to put a roof over the rink, when it is such a perfect spot to skate under the stars or, on Monday's case, a crisp blue sky.

I am sure there are others who share this view.

The roof, however, is the objective of the Rotary Park Revitalization Committee, which estimates the rink topper could cost as much as $350,000.

The reasoning is mostly economic.

The city has estimated the cost of maintaining the rink at $25,000 a year. Some of that cost might be mitigated were there a structure in place to shield the ice surface from the elements – either the rain or freezing rain that delayed the opening in the first place, or the sun that reflects off the north boards, forcing the pipes to work overtime.

It's perfectly sensible. However, one wonders if there's a compromise available.

Is it possible to build a retractable roof? Or, if the Skydome solution is (as I suspect) way too expensive, could we build a roof that can be removed or otherwise slid aside on clear days for the few odd hours of open-air skating?

For that matter, what about a skylight or two?

It's something we should at least discuss before getting underway with Phase Three.