By Jessica Lovell
With double-digit temperatures forecast for Saturday, people heading to city hall for the Mayor’s New Year’s Levee should probably just leave their skates at home.
“There’s no way we’ll be running the rink if temperatures are even over six degrees,” said Mario Petricevic, the city’s general manager of corporate building maintenance.
The city decided late Tuesday to postpone one Market Square event, the Shake-n-Skate party on Saturday evening. “We knew that the chance of us having ice would be very slim,” general manager of culture and tourism Colleen Clack said as reason for postponing Saturday evening’s Shake-n-Skate party. It has been rescheduled for Jan. 26.
The afternoon levee, however, will go ahead, although likely without the skating.
“There are a lot more components to the levee than simply skating,” said Clack.
There will still be entertainment, crafts and other children’s activities and refreshments, but if the rink is closed, the celebration will move indoors, Clack said.
Hoping for a change in the forecast, the city will hold off on cancelling the skating part of the levee until Friday. The city will put out an information bulletin on Friday morning, “so people know whether to bring their skates,” said Clack.
If the rink does have to close, the closure will likely happen on Friday, said Petricevic.
Environment Canada is forecasting rain and a high of 11C for Guelph on Friday. It’s expected to go up to 11C again on Saturday.
“Once we get to four or five degrees, it gets difficult to maintain the ice in safe condition,” said Petricevic.
The ideal for the ice is constant, cold winter temperatures, but the rink’s refrigeration plant allows city staff to maintain a safe ice surface at temperatures as high as 3C, he said.
“We do have trouble with it if there is rain or if there is a lot of sun on the ice,” he said, explaining that water pooling on the surface of the ice can be a safety issue.
When the rink closes, it will likely be closed for a few days, because even when temperatures dip again it will take city staff some time to get the ice surface back in shape, Petricevic said.
But staff are on hand looking after the rink anyway, so there is not additional cost in terms of staffing to get the work done, he said.
And the city has experience with the ups and downs of maintaining an outdoor ice surface.
“Last year, there might have been once or twice through the winter where we were down for a few days because of rain,” said Petricevic, recalling last year’s exceptionally mild winter.
“It really depends on the weather,” he said.