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Speakers Corner: Backyard ice rinks - fun in the winter, flood risk in the spring?

Last Updated Mar 4, 2021 at 6:19 pm EDT

Speakers Corner is back! CityNews wants to hear from you. We’ve been asking you to send us interesting stories, videos or questions you want answered. The Queen Street booth maybe a thing of the past, but we’re still listening and want to hear what’s on your mind.

This week we were asked about backyard ice rinks. A lot of people built their own to beat the lockdown blues but as temperatures rise, could these frozen ponds lead to big problems?

Greg Narbey, from Toronto, reached out to us for this one. Like so many Canadian parents, he put the lockdown on ice.
“Because of COVID, my kid had some new hockey equipment and he wasn’t able to use it as all public rinks were closed.” Narbey said. “So, I built a small ice rink in my backyard.”

That rink is located less than three metres from his house.

“I thought, all of that water that I put in there is going to come out and I didn’t want it flooding my basement, I am not sure a lot of people thought of this when they built theirs.” Narbey said.

In his case, he used about 2,000 litres of water to create the rink. When it melts, it could cause problems.

“As the ground softens your bracing could lean and the whole rink could buckle and thousands of gallons will rush towards the home,” warned Nunzio Giambattista, who owns Rinks For You, a Toronto based company that professionally installs backyard ice rinks.

“A lot of people who constructed these rinks on their own did not take that into account.”

Luckily, it’s not too late to do something about it.

“What we recommend is get a pump with a hose so you can pump the water right out to the street sewer main,” Giambattista said.

Those pumps are available at most hardware stores.

“As soon as you see it thaw, and a couple inches of water on the top, then you’ll want to start getting the water out of there.”

You’ll also want to secure the rink’s bracing.

“Just an extra added support,” Giambattista said. “Hammer in a wood stake and put an extra brace or two to make sure the original frame doesn’t bust out.”

Narbey already has the pump ready to go. He was worried his homeowner’s insurance policy wouldn’t cover ice rink disasters.

“It was my intention not to test it,” he said.

If you have any concerns about your ice rink, you can call professionals to come in and help make sure it is drained properly.

If you have a story, issue or question you’d like us to look into, hit us up, citynews.ca/speakerscorner.