Volunteers needed to maintain neighbourhood ice rinks
It was love at first sight for Al Arsenault and his wife Betty.
She loved the house and he loved the community skating rink located right behind the house. “That was over 29 years ago,” laughs Arsenault. “I thought it was perfect because I loved hockey and the occasional pick-up shinny game. Who knew I’d still be helping maintain the ice almost 30 years later.” The two Arsenault children – Andrew and Jolene, then two and six years old respectively – learned to skate on the rink.
For the Arsenault family, helping to maintain the ice alongside other neighbourhood volunteers was a way to give back to the community. Arsenault’s wife also started a daycare and teaching the kids to skate was an ideal way to get some fresh air. “The parents loved it,” says Arsenault. “The kids were getting outdoors, and they were learning how to skate. You wouldn’t believe how many kids learned on that ice over the years.”
The Lakeview Park rink was in place before the Arsenaults bought their home in 1989. The city opened numerous rinks throughout the city in the 1960s and there continues to be a need for volunteers. “I actually do presentations for the city on how to run and maintain a rink,” says Arsenault. “I guess 30 years of practice has come in handy.” The Ottawa Senators Foundation also has established rinks and two of them – the rink at Bayshore and one in Overbrook – need volunteers. “I’ve helped with the Bayshore rink,” says Arsenault, “but we need more volunteers.” He says that it’s a great way for high school students to get their volunteer hours.
In 2016, Arsenault and his wife received the Mayor’s City Builder Award for their volunteer work maintaining the rinks and organizing events. “That was an absolute highlight,” says Arsenault. He has many fond on-ice memories. “We had a curling bonspiel last year and raised $7,000 for the Sens Foundation. That felt good.” Several years ago, he was looking out the window and saw a bunch of players on the ice. “I could see they were pretty good players, so I went over to check them out.” It turned out to be players from the Gatineau Olympiques. They’d heard that the rink was always in great shape, so they picked it for a game of shinny.
Volunteering at the rink in your neighbourhood is a great way to serve your community. Volunteers maintain community rinks across Ottawa and many need help. For example, the Bayshore and Overbrook SENS rinks are seeking volunteers for this season. Those interested can contact Seasonal Recreation at Seasonal.firstname.lastname@example.org.