Homemade rinks getting iced



By Elianna Lev

There seems to be a war being waged on an iconic and beloved Canadian pastime — homemade hockey rinks. An Edmonton family is the latest to face a fine for building a rink on a pond close to the back of their home.

Morgann and Brian Tomlinson spent $250 on 30 metres of hose so they could flood the rink and smooth over the ice with the intention of skating on it for New Year’s Eve. But the afternoon before New Year’s Eve, two park rangers issued them a $100 ticket for modifying land in a way likely to cause injury. The family plans to fight the ticket in provincial court.

This isn’t the first time makeshift rinks have raised the ire of local officials in Canada.

· In January 2015, an Ajax, Ont. family were told to take apart a makeshift hockey rink they’d built on their front lawn with blue tarpaulin and metre-high boards. If they didn’t they were threatened fined $25,000. This came after an anonymous neighbour claimed that the structure was unsightly. The family were later told they were allowed to keep the rink up.

· In 2013, families in Montreal were gutted to find out the city had covered a makeshift alleyway rink with gravel and salt, after a neighbour complained of slippery conditions. Other homemade ice rinks popped up after the alleyway rink was destroyed.

· Also in 2013, the community of Chestermere, near Calgary, which had planned to build and insure a local pond hockey league, was told it wouldn’t happen due to liability issues. (Another rink was built a few months later.)

· In January 2010, city officials in Mississauga, Ont., put signs up around a man-made rink on Lake Aquitaine, forbidding people from walking or skating on it.

Hockey is not alone as an outdoor sport on the radar of city officials.

In May, Celia Johnstone of Toronto came home to a bylaw violation notice hanging on the free-standing basketball net set up by her sons on the edge of their east-end front lawn. It gave them two weeks’ notice to take the net away from the road, as it stood in the city’s right-of-way.

In August, an Oshawa, Ont., family was fined $250 for a basketball net on their property. Neighbours had complained that the basketball net on Lisa Roberto’s driveway was positioned in a dangerous part of the road. Jay Triano, who used to coach with the Toronto Raptors, heard about the story and ended covering the fees for the family.