A new contractor will be brought in to maintain the skating trail at Memorial Park in downtown Bracebridge.
An amendment was passed during the Nov. 15 Bracebridge council meeting giving staff the authority to find and hire a contractor to make and maintain the ice. A report will be discussed at a future General Committee meeting that may see money set aside in the 2025 budget to keep the contractor long-term.
As well, councillors agreed to offer more free public skating at the Bracebridge Memorial Area.
The amendment and subsequent motion were unanimously passed. It comes after a split vote during the Nov. 7 General Committee.
Will Crowe, Manager of Facilities, said he spoke with Mike Jefford, Owner of MJC Muskoka Inc. Landscaping and Maintenance, who maintained the ice from when the rink opened in 2017 until 2020. He said Jefford agreed to support the project again and work alongside the selected contractor this season and, potentially, beyond.
In his report to committee, Crowe recommended against moving forward with the rink because of the high cost and lack of use. From 2021 onwards, he explained the cost to maintain the ice went from just over $10,000 to $15,556 in 2023. As well, he pointed out the trail was only able to stay open for 20 days last winter.
Coun. Tatiana Sutherland put forward the amendment to find a contractor to maintain the ice. “There was discussion about whether that was a viable, long-term, permanent option for that park,” she said about the previous committee discussion, adding she heard concerns about the poor ice quality from some residents.
It was floated by Coun. Andrew Struthers the shape and size of the ice surface could change, but a decision on that was not made during council.
“This is important to them,” he said about the vast amount of feedback council has received about the rink, adding they will make sure the “best ice surface possible” is created and maintained.