Outdoor Living

Guide to Creating & Maintaining Outdoor Community Ice Rinks

Jan 5, 2023

Thank you for volunteering your time to take care of your community rink. You are part of a team of Community Association volunteers who maintain 52 outdoor rinks in Saskatoon. Your hard work will keep your neighbours active and happy throughout the winter. When taking on this challenge please dress for the weather and the water and wear cleats if possible. Stay safe. Before you begin the flooding process you need to assess the area for damage, garbage and weeds. Have a walk around the rink and make sure there are no screws or nails sticking out. Pick up any debris such as rocks, bricks and boards. Mow the grass and pick weeds. Check the condition of the chain-link fence and make sure there aren't any loose strands sticking out. Fill in any gaps between the boards and the base of the rink on either side of the boards. Rinks with asphalt or concrete should be inspected for cracks and heaving. Cracks should be filled with sand or snow before flooding. If possible try to build a two inch layer of snow before flooding as ice on asphalt is susceptible to sun melt due to its dark color. Do your best to level or pack the snow. Don't be shy to ask the local school principal to get the kids to stomp the rink. Begin spraying when the daytime high is below minus seven degrees Celsius for several days to make sure the ground is cold enough. Spray evenly in a fan-like motion up and outward starting from the furthest point from the water supply working your way back towards it. In the beginning spraying after a few inches of snowfall is fine as the slush will seal the edges.


You will need to spray lightly for the first several layers until a good base is established and low parts have started to level. Also in the beginning don't worry about scraping off all the bumps and chunks unless they are sticking up. As soon as a layer is frozen the next one could start. Once the ground is sealed heavier flooding can begin. Have your partner keep the hose out of your way so you don't trip. Also constantly moving the hose will keep it from melting in the ice or creating bumps. As a general rule ideal flooding temperatures are between minus 5 and minus 20 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind the colder it is the lighter the flooding coat should be. The more layers the better. A strong base will set you up well for the season. Now that you have a strong base you can do resurfacing floods as needed. These are resurfacing floods should be thin as possible.


Always remove any snow bumps or ridges on the ice before flooding. You may need to use a heavy scraper. The cleaner the ice is before you flood the better your ice will be. Use a stiff straw broom to sweep along the boards. If there are plus temperatures and it snows get the snow off as soon as possible so it doesn't melt and then freeze. If it's very windy do not flood. The top of the water will freeze first and will not bond to the layer underneath. It will then chip off. If there is any drainage near the boards pack with slush. If you have access to hot water do not use hot water when it is colder than minus 15. The ice will be under tension from contracting and if hot water is applied to the top the ice will crack to the bottom of the base. During the season you may encounter a number of issues with your ice quality. These problems are usually due to dramatic temperature shifts or using too much water and not flooding evenly. Anything dark that is left or blown on to the ice or even leaves from trees will attract the sun's heat and will melt down into the ice.


Do your best to make sure the ice is clear. Common problems also include cracks chips and air pockets under the surface of the ice. To fix these problems a similar process can be used. Clean the crack or air pocket with a broom. Pack the crack or air pocket with snow and drizzle a little bit of water on it and wait for it to freeze. Repeat as many times as needed until the ice surface of the repair is flat. Try to pack the snow as far down as possible. Do not simply pour water to fill the crack as it will make it much worse. Shovel the surface smooth. This process can also be used to repair shale or shale ice problems that are deep. For more information and assistance call three zero six nine seven five three three seven eight and talk to your community consultant. Thank you again for your effort and commitment to making your rink a place for everyone to enjoy. Check out www.saskatoon.ca to find a map to list the sites and public skate times for all the community association rinks across Saskatoon.

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