NEW GLASGOW – It was cold outside and the winds made it feel even colder on a Wednesday afternoon. But Rodney Bond didn’t have a care in the world as the sun’s light sparkled in the water sprayed on the ice of an outdoor rink.
“I come here every day,” said Bond. “I love coming to the rink.”
Rodney, or Rod as the group calls him, has been helping to keep the two outdoor rinks at Westside Community Centre in pristine condition since they were set up for the winter.
He smiles as he holds the fire hose for volunteer Frank Proudfoot who ensures the water falls evenly across the ice.
“We’re out here a couple of times a day,” said volunteer Bob Curley. “It can be a tough job to keep the ice nice and level and Rod’s been a big help to us.”
Rod, originally from Canso, is a resident at the Highland Community Residential Services (HCRS), which supports community inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues.
His worker Henry Heighton has been in the area for two years and is happy to bring Rod here every day when the ice is out.
“It’s great for him to get out and lend a hand,” said Heighton. “You wouldn’t believe the work that residents like Rod do in the community.”
Rod likes to be busy and looks forward to getting some ice time. He usually brings his hockey stick to take a few shots on net once the work is done.
He’s worked at the Lansdowne Outdoor Recreational Development Association (LORDA), participating in the Annual Fishing Derby and Barbecue for the Mentally Challenged and more recently Maple Syrup Production.
“I had a lot of fun getting the syrup from the tree and boiling it off,” he said.
Curley aims to have the rinks open for as long as possible. “This recent spate of cold weather has been good for the ice. It depends on the weather, but I’d like the rinks to be open at least until February.”
People come from all over and are amazed with what we’ve got here.”
The outdoor rinks at the corner of Elm and Lavinia streets have a history stretching back to 1937. They were formed when a child fell through the ice in the East River. Local citizens set up these rinks to ensure safety first.
The rinks are open to the public, where one can play hockey or simply take in a brisk outdoor skate.
Rod says he plans on making sure the rinks are in tiptop shape. “I want to make this place great as long as I’m here,” he says. “Come by anytime.”