North Vancouver dad builds backyard ice rink just in time for cold snap

·3 min read

While many aren’t looking forward to an extreme dip in temperatures from arctic air flowing through B.C. this week, there are a few people on the North Shore who have been waiting all winter for this moment.

It’s finally going to be cold enough to make a backyard ice rink. Environment Canada has an arctic airflow warning in place, and forecasts say temperatures will hover around -1 C today and drop to an icy -8 tonight, with an overnight wind chill of -16.

The below-zero temperatures will continue over the next few days, making it the perfect opportunity for hockey lovers to build their very own rink.

Creating a backyard rink has become a tradition for Lynn Valley resident Jason English and his three kids over the past couple of years.

"I grew up in Newfoundland, and I made them as a kid with my dad,” he said. “And when I moved out to North Van, I didn't know anyone else that had actually done it. So, I was telling stories to my kids about it."

The stories turned to reality for the kids, who think it's all "very cool and very fun" when their dad starts building the backyard rink.

"They got to skate on it last year and the year before," said English.

He said the prep work had already been done for the rink this year, and now it’s just a matter of adding water and patiently waiting for it to freeze.

While it’s still nice out, English builds the wooden frame for his 8.5 metre (20 feet) by 5.5 m (18 ft.) rink and lays plywood across the bottom.

"Usually a day or two before it gets cold, I cover the whole thing up with a tarp and put some water in slowly and let it freeze little by little," he said.

With the West Coast only offering a small window of frigid temperatures, English said it was a quick turnaround to make the magic happen.

"Ideally [I’d want] longer than I have, but with the really cold weather coming up in the next few days, hopefully it's ready for the weekend," he said. Other friends of English’s have also jumped aboard the challenge to make a rink in the short window.

"Two of our hockey friends have also started the endeavour," said English, with a chuckle. "I don't know if they're going to finish it, it depends on how flat their backyards are. But you know, it's pretty limited in time. In Ontario, you get like three months to build a rink, but in North Van, you get, you know, five or six days to build it and skate on it."

He said looking at the forecast, the rink would probably be gone by Tuesday.

"Even last year, we just got on the ice once for about an hour and a half. But you know, it's still worth it just to see the kids in the backyard having fun," said English.

"Both of my sons, Lucas, 7, and Max, 4, and his twin sister Mckayla, are really looking forward to it. Especially in a year when you can't even have friends on your own property or anything, it's going to be good for the kids.

"Fingers crossed, the ice will be ready for Saturday morning."

Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News