Barrie’s ice man cometh, busy getting out of doors rinks prepared

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The ice at Barrie City Hall has been ready for pleasure skating since last weekend, while the Will Dwyer Park Community rink opens for hockey on Saturday

Winter seems to be here to stay and the town of Barrie has two popular outdoor spots for skating.

The Circle at the Center ice rink in front of Barrie Town Hall on Collier Street has been open since last weekend. Town Hall Ice is for skating only, while the newly named Will Dwyer Park Community Ice Rink near Centennial Beach is for people who want to play a game of hockey. The Will Dwyer Ice Rink opens on Saturday.

Joe Breedon, the city’s outdoor recreation coordinator, not only grew up on the ice in Barrie, he now cultivates it as a Zamboni rider.

“It’s pretty cool, I’ll admit that. When you do laps on the ice, people tend to watch — it’s kind of a Canadian thing, I think,” Breedon told BarrieToday. “Kids will wave and turn heads when the machine comes out. I’m enjoying it, but we’re pretty busy right now.”

The names of the machines differ as Zamboni is a brand, as is Olympia, both of which are used by city staff to create a fresh leaf.

There are approximately 12 ice machines for the city’s five arenas, which contain eight ice rinks as well as seven outdoor ice rinks.

The Ice Rink at City Hall is the only ice rink that has a Zamboni-style machine. The ice rink in Dwyer Park needs maintenance and has special technology.

“The infrastructure isn’t there for hot water, so we need to bring something down with a couple of booster pumps,” Breedon said. “Obviously that comes with a few challenges – we have to get the vehicle to transport it and time it right when the snow falls, as it’s quite difficult to resurface when the snow falls because it leaves bumps.

The Circle at the Center and Will Dwyer Park ice rinks are vacated by staff each morning to open at 10:00 a.m., including weekends. At Will Dwyer Park, shovels are kept on site so skaters can keep the surface snow-free during the day, as the city does not have a permanent staff at this location on Lakeshore Drive.

The city’s other outdoor ice rinks — Redpath, Lampman, Holly, Eastview and Shear — will be undergoing maintenance Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m

Breedon may have been a city employee since 2007, but having tended the outdoor rinks since 2014, he knows who his real boss is: Mother Nature.

“I always say everyone has a boss, but my direct boss is the weather because it dictates everything I do,” he said. “Plan A never really happens as the elements are constantly shifting and changing how I do what needs to be done.”