Details for Calgary neighbourhood-run outdoor rinks from Mark Chambers, Stanley Park Rink in Calgary:
''Leo Bailey, being the engineer he is, has streamlined the processes of maintaining the ice in Stanley Park. We advanced from all manual to mostly mechanized maintenance of the ice.
However, building the ice still is mostly manual labour and patience. We start in the late fall when the temperatures are constantly around 0C or just below by putting out a whole bunch of sprinklers and hoses and leaving them on for days. Once the ground is saturated and freezes we have a good base for pouring lots of water on. We have an advantage in that we have a 1 to 1.5 metre deep depression which retains the water. Once there is a base we continue with larger hoses and larger volumes of water to build up thickness. Thickness is the key in order to achieve a subzero thermal mass which will resist the onslaught of warm days, our local Chinook winds, and, ultimately, spring. All the fancy gear that we now have is not needed if you have lots of volunteers with strong backs, snow shovels, push brooms, 25 to 50 mm hoses, and a good water supply. Maintenance of the ice just from skaters is not too difficult. It is the large dump of snow which is tough and that is where some form of machine is desirable: either a tractor with attachments - snow blower, blade, brush - as we have, or a blade/plow on a pickup truck, or something similar. There was a time we had walk-behind gas powered brushes. This was a step up from manual but not the most ideal. Having said that, some communities in Calgary have a Zamboni (that's like having a Ferrari and, really, who needs one?) We have a John Deere!
The attached video was put together by Leo and allows us to sweep and flood (typical maintenance) a very large ice surface with figure 8 leisure ice in under 2 hours by one person.
Even though our rink is in a city regional park, our community association bought all the equipment- so in the tens of thousands of dollars with the John Deere tractor being the biggest part of that. However, the City of Calgary gives us free water and Enmax (electrical company) gives incentives on the electric lighting for nighttime use.”
“As far as I know, we have only one compressor-cooled "artificial" ice rink and that is at Olympic Plaza. That City of Calgary maintained rink has a dedicated Zamboni and lots of rules. All the other rinks have "natural" ice . There is such a collective, multi-generational memory of pond hockey on the prairies that as soon as too many rules get introduced, the spontaneous fun is lost.
There are many outdoor rinks in Calgary. We lease the land from the City for a nominal amount and, even though the rink is in a regional park, our community can make the rules- of which there are very few.
We have a firepit on the ice surface near the portable bleacher seating and we keep the fire wood well stocked for the winter.
We chose to not install hockey boards to maintain the "pond" quality. About 10 years ago we had boards donated to us but we passed them on to Bragg Creek.
The community rinks are volunteer-maintained and where there are dedicated volunteers the rinks do great. As I mentioned, some community associations have purchased Zambonis and apparently the volunteers compete to see who gets to drive it.
I only know about our community association and we have insurance to cover the community's potential liability with respect to the rink. We have never faced litigation (knock on wood) even though there have been some bloody falls and a few concussions. It may be the case for other communities as well.
There have been occasions when groups have booked the little community hall and the ice for parties but that is rare. Otherwise all other use is drop-in (City of Calgary Parks hours: 7 am to 11 pm). There were years when moms would play shinny on Wednesdays and dads on Thursdays or vice versa. We have 4 hockey nets and there will often be 2 games going on simultaneously with no defined boundaries and with pleasure skaters in the mix. At times it is a little chaotic but people adapt very well. A bit like driving in Rome.
Skaters are not obliged to help with ice maintenance but are invited to on occasion and volunteer to just after a dump of snow and prior to the tractor getting out.
I don't have any stats on rinks relative to demographics or income. The community of Bowness, which is a mix of high and low income residents, runs along the banks of the Bow River and has probably the largest "natural" ice surface in the city- it is a lagoon and series of canals interconnected in Bowness Park.
Our ice attracts people from all over the city. It is not uncommon to have at least 3 different languages spoken on a Saturday afternoon.
We open the basement of our little community hall for changing and warming up. We purchased rubber/neoprene mats for over the concrete slab, steps, and walkways leading to the ice surface. Many rinks will have some type of warming hut''