South Edgeware outdoor rink skates into the neighbourhood on Family Day, Monday, February 16th.

If you’re looking for a free, fun, family-orientated, healthy activity on Family Day, Monday, February 16th, make your way over to the lot between Locke’s Public School and Monsignor Morrison Catholic School on South Edgeware Road to take a spin on the new outdoor skating rink.

The St. Thomas outdoor ice rink has been the discussion of many in the community, both in and out of the press. The Doable Neighbourhood Project team, a working group of Elgin Children’s Network, wants to clarify exactly how this project came to fruition.

Lead by Bev Fellows and Elizabeth Gough, co-chairs of Elgin Children’s Network, along with Joy Dawkins and Jody Lorch, Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, the Doable Neighbourhood Project team has been working tirelessly on this initiative for months.

This project has been icing forward since the spring of 2014. The working group wanted to expand their efforts to support healthy connected neighbourhoods. Elgin Children’s Network was chosen earlier this year to receive in-kind support from 8-80 Cities, an International Non-Profit Organization based in Toronto. The Doable Neighbourhood Project, supported by the Government of

Ontario, has helped this working group to plan for 3 pilot projects for North St. Thomas, the outdoor ice rink being one of them.

Creating the outdoor skating rink has allowed for many community partnerships and linkages to be created. St. Thomas city hall has been supporting the group by facilitating co-operation between the working group and city staff, as well as assuming liability by allowing the rink to be placed on city land. No financial funding from the City was given to the project.

The St. Thomas Fire Department also provided support by loaning retired or off-duty firefighters to help flood the rink. Local Northside champions such as Ashley Thornton and Andy Vergeer, have been volunteering their efforts to make sure the project is realized. Donations from the community have been coming in to help the group reach their goal of $2,500 to cover the start-up costs of the rink.

The community ice rink pilot project will address many issues raised during the public consultation phase including sociability, activities for kids, gathering opportunities, low cost services and animation of the neighbourhood! This project is reliant on the many volunteers that are required to maintain the ice rink. Ashley Thornton, Volunteer Coordinator, is seeking more individuals to assist with project. Please connect with her by email if you would like to get involved: northsidestthomas@gmail.com

The Northside rink is not exclusive to residents in the north end of St. Thomas; all members of the community are welcome. Grand Opening celebrations will begin at 1pm on Family Day and guests can expect to enjoy free hot chocolate, sponsored by Closing the Gap healthcare.

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