Lavington has a plant cooled outdoor ice rink complete with a tractor Zamboni, a covered area to put your skates on, a fire pit, and a full hockey set up, nets and all.
If you live in Lavington you probably already know this. But, just to say them in one breath, there is a lot there. More so are the details and the history that has happened in bringing this unique facility to the place and use it sees today.
I have lived in Lavington for four years and have enjoyed the community rink for a leisurely skate or some “slap the puck around” fun with my wife. Now that I have kids, this amenity has become a welcome answer to the question, “what should we do with the kids on a cold winter morning?”
On one such cold morning, as I was transporting skates and kids from the car to the benches. I noticed the beautiful clean ice surface, and then I noticed the fire pit. It had paper crumpled, kindling chopped, neatly set, and balanced in a ring, just waiting and ready for a match.
The ice surface is one thing to take note of, but the fire pit? To me that’s extra. That’s detail. That’s pride. It is this pride and effort that is unique. It should be highlighted.
On any given weekday or morning, you may find the rink in use by either a father and son playing shinny or a mom teaching her kids to skate. You might even get to bump elbows with a grade school class from the elementary across the street. And, If you drive by the rink on a Saturday night the parking lot is usually packed with a full-blown hockey game going on. This is all to say, the rink is well used and for good reason. It’s one of a kind in the Okanagan Valley.
The ice rink is the product of the community of Lavington, its residents, and the Community Association that manages it. The rink didn’t always call its present location home (it used to be across the street in the park) and it didn’t always have an ice plant, which, as any back yard rink maker knows, you are at the mercy of the weather. Some weeks you have great ice and the other weeks you’d better just leave your boots on. Not to mention the headache of rebuilding the ice surface after each melt.
Now, kids and families from the Valley get good ice the whole winter through. Even when the temperature goes above zero, the ice is solid. Not just solid, it’s pristine. Ground down and resurfaced daily by the farm sized Zamboni, driven by Gord. Gord is one of a few volunteers maintaining the facility for all to use.
And I do mean all because it is the only outdoor hockey rink that is plant cooled, Zamboni maintained, and free of charge. It is used by all in the valley. Gord says he’s had groups from as far away as Kelowna come to skate and play hockey on the rink. More commonly though are visitors from the neighbouring communities of Vernon, Armstrong, and Lumby.
With that being said the ice rink needs a roof. And here’s why.
The volunteer base that runs and maintains the rink is small, currently two people strong. It’s not a big pool to draw from when you consider the rink is open and maintained seven days a week.
A heavy snowfall takes hours and hours to clear and we get some pretty heavy dumps of snow.
Warm temperatures and direct sun on a clear day will damage the ice surface, needing more volunteer time to repair. The ice plant can handle some above zero temperatures but it can’t handle both.
Lastly, the roof will allow the community to gather for events in all weather, year round.