NEWS

Guelph City Hall puts kids' outdoor rink on ice

01/30/2015 11:10 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT
Mary-Ann Moroz says she can hardly keep her 10-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son off the outdoor ice rink in Guelph, Ont.'s Pine Ridge subdivision, but that could end if a neighbour's complaint to the city isn't resolved. 

"If it's a nice sunny day, we can't pull them off the rink" said Moroz. "As a matter of fact, New Year's Eve, the kids were out on the rink; that was the first day that the rink was ready this year. They came in for five minutes for the countdown and literally were back out again." 

Neighbours in the area have been building the outdoor rink for five winters, located in a shallow valley behind a row of suburban homes in the Summerfield Drive and Grey Oak Drive area. The residents of the five houses that back on to the rink maintain it, including lights and nets.

But another neighbour complained about the rink to the City of Guelph, so the city sent notices earlier this week, informing residents that they can no longer skate there, and would need to take down the lights and nets. The rink itself and the boards can stay. 

It's caused an uproar.

"Somebody complains about it and you can ruin something for a whole community," one young hockey player told CBC News on Thursday night.

"I want the rink to stay," said another 13-year-old. "It would be a lot more fun because all these kids use it, and there's just one family that doesn't want it, so I dunno. I'd just love the rink to stay."

Rink is on city land

According to Mark Amorosi, the deputy chief administrative officer of corporate services for the city, the rink is in violation of the encroachment bylaw, because it is built on city-owned land. He says there are potential health and safety liabilities, a potential impact to the environment and wildlife, and possible storm water management issues.

But When Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie heard about the rink brouhaha, he was "shocked." 

“I had a meeting with staff today about it and that went very well, staff have assured me that they are looking at every possible solution with the community, to make sure all voices are heard, to try to see if we can come up with a solution as soon as possible,” said Guthrie on Thursday.

"It’s important to understand that the city isn’t barging into someone’s own private backyard and telling them they can’t skate on their own private rink. What’s happened is that the city received a formal complaint from someone in the community, saying that something’s been built onto city property,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie says there are ways residents can work with the city, by filing an encroachment application to keep the rink, which Pine Ridge residents told CBC news they would do. 

Amorosi says a number of city departments like parks, legal and water will have to investigate any potential liabilities before approving the application. The city will also do consultation with stakeholders during the application process.

“We have an obligation to exercise some due diligence. We know how important it is to people. We’re going to reach out and come to a solution as quickly as we can,” said Amorosi.

Both Amorosi and Guthrie say they don't know how long it will take for the application to be approved.

But in the meantime, the kids were still out on the ice as of Thursday, shooting and skating. 

MORE:cbcNews