Community use of GBF rink continues under new agreement

·2 min read

The Town of Sexsmith is entering into an agreement with the Grace Bible Fellowship (GBF) church for continued maintenance and insurance for the GBF outdoor ice rink.

Council voted to approve the agreement during its regular meeting last week.

“The agreement ensures we have that facility available,” mayor Kate Potter said.

“For us, it’s critical to have partnerships like this so we can offer these amenities.

“It really gives us the opportunity to have any resident who wants to skate to enjoy the rink.”

She noted even under COVID restrictions the GBF rink has a higher capacity than other town rinks, currently capped at 50 people while others are limited to between eight and 11.

Potter told the News last fall the GBF church built the rink approximately 10 years ago near the Forest Grove area, where the church owns property.

The rink was maintained by volunteers until 2015, when the town agreed to partner in the facility.

Potter said this week the town and GBF have mainly operated the rink on a “handshake agreement,” as neither party has a copy of the original written agreement.

As well, the town had liability insurance in case anyone is harmed on the rink, but to renew the insurance this year a written agreement is needed, she said.

At GBF representatives’ request, the town’s legal department prepared the new agreement, according to Sexsmith administration.

The agreement will last five years and states the town is responsible for flooding the rink and regularly inspecting and repairing it as needed.

The agreement binds the GBF church not to undertake development interfering with public use of the facility without the town’s approval.

Potter said GBF can build a replacement church on the property if the group chooses, but GBF would consult the town if such a project affects the rink.

Given the rink is in the middle of the property, construction would likely cause the rink to be moved, she said.

GBF approved the agreement before it was tabled at council last week, Potter said.

Coun. Bruce Black’s motion to accept the agreement was carried unanimously.

The town also gave its support to the rink earlier this winter by granting $5,000 for repairs.

This allowed many of the boards to be replaced by volunteers, Potter said.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News