A first of its kind outdoor ice rink is now a reality in Alberta, Canada. Phase One has been completed on the Parkdale Community Rink & Hub, which means accessible and inclusive ice is now open for skaters and sledge hockey players.
This is only the second 100% inclusive, accessible outdoor ice rink in all of Canada.
This first stage of construction focused on inclusivity:
Entry ways to team benches are wider than average to make access easier for people using mobility devices,
Transparent boards were installed, so onlookers and players who are off the ice can watch the game from sleds or wheelchairs.
Phase Two, to be finished this summer, will focus on accessible change rooms, bathrooms and parking lots.
Parkdale Community Association President, Amanda Affonso, said the goal is to have a space that could be used by everyone. “Sledge hockey players, for example, giving them a place to skate. We’re hoping to attract seniors, or just anybody who enjoys the outdoors but has limitations due to accessibility,” she said.
About three years ago, when the rink had reached its 30 year lifespan, the Parkdale Community Association began discussing options to replace it.
John Butterwick, Rink Director, told the Calgary Eyeopener that association members wondered if rink accessibility was an issue for seniors, persons with disabilities and sledge hockey players.
They contacted Level Playing Field, an accessibility consulting service, and the Calgary Sledge Hockey Association, which directed them to the Dakota Community Centre in Winnipeg — home to the first accessible outdoor rink built in Canada.
“There wasn’t really that much difference between the regular old rink and an accessible rink,” Butterwick said.
The first two phases cost about $500,000 each. Funding was secured through Parks Foundation Calgary, the Calgary Flames Foundation, a provincial grant and a reimbursement grant through the city.
The Calgary Sledge Hockey Association was happy to align with the project as having accessible ice is a huge opportunity for them. Its president, Alan Halbert, said Alberta’s sledge hockey players will now have more opportunities to practice, allowing the team to become more competitive.
“Our organization currently has about 60 sledge hockey players; probably about 10 or 15 per cent of them are wheelchair bound to some degree. Others have varying disabilities, whether it be amputations or … different things that require better access or easier access to the rink,” Halbert said.