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Community builds new rink at Robinson Playground

A concrete pad has been poured for the renewed Robinson Playground outdoor rink, for which a grand opening is expected to take place in December

The concrete pad for a new outdoor rink has been poured at Robinson Playground, with the boards set to be installed in the coming months in time for a grand opening in December.

Several employees of Lafarge came to check out the pad at 215 Cranbrook Crescent on Friday, after donating the cement for the project, which Fisher Wavy employees poured.

After growing up six houses down from the park, Lafarge southern Ontario distributions manager Wayne Huska said supporting the project was an easy decision.

“As a child growing up, our parents were very active in this whole playground community, and this is all we had as kids growing up – this playground,” he said. 

His father would stay up until the early morning hours flooding the old rink, and longtime park volunteer Joe Caridade jokingly blames him for roping him into volunteering his time for the park as well.

Caridade has been volunteering at the park for 40 years, and said the cement pad will allow the rink to be used for 12 months of the year instead of just its current three or four, since the old rink’s ice was previously laid directly on a grass base.

The cement might also accommodate skateboarding, roller skating and other activities.

“I just love seeing the kids out there and want them to have good facilities,” he said. “Hopefully in two years we’ll have a new roof – that’s my dream. Hopefully we have that before I pass away.”

Building a roof over the rink is the next big goal, Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti said, ballparking its cost at approximately $600,000. 

For now, however, Signoretti is eager to celebrate what the community is already in the process of accomplishing.

Approximately $200,000 in donations were pledged toward the rink project by community members and companies, with various in-kind contributions rounding out a project estimated to cost $380,000.

A committee of eight people drove the project, which Signoretti said took “a lot of heavy lifting” to reach this point. A $50,000 grant from the city’s Healthy Community Initiative Fund provided the seed money they used to attract other donors.

The concrete pad will soon be accompanied by new boards in time for the rink’s grand opening celebration in December. A storage shed has been added to the property, and a new kitchen has been installed in a nearby community building. 

The kitchen is of particular interest to Caridade, who is known for the porketta he makes for the annual carnival in February.

Between the improvements made already and those coming up, Signoretti said it’s a park the community can be proud of.

“I want this to be a flagship rink we can adopt in other neighbourhoods.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for