Demand for backyard ice rinks skyrocketing in Winnipeg amid pandemic

WINNIPEG — Community hockey is on hold in Manitoba while Code Red restrictions are in place, but that hasn’t stopped some Winnipeggers from lacing up their skates at home.

In Transcona, Daniel Felske built an ice rink in his backyard so he could play hockey with his son.

“The idea came from a couple of my friends (who) were doing them,” Felske said.

“We thought we could probably just use theirs, (but) with the restrictions from COVID, we just decided it’d be best to try our own.”

Felske did some research, bought a rink liner online, and got some advice from friends. Then, after some trial and error, he had a rink ready to go in his backyard.

He said he wanted to make sure his son could play hockey this year.

“We’ve gone skating last year to a couple outdoor rinks, and I’m not a hundred per cent sure they’ll be open this year, so we just decided let’s try one for ourselves,” he said.

Ryan Starkell, owner of ‘My O.D.R’ a company that builds outdoor rinks in people’s backyards, said demand for ice rinks in the city has skyrocketed

“Hopefully by the end of this week I can have my first five done, and I booked another I think 25 – 35 over the last two days,” Starkell said.

He noted. he had to hire a couple people to keep up with the demand for outdoor rinks.

Starkell said with many hockey programs on hold, and community centres closed to the public, families are looking for a reason to strap on their skates this season.

“They got little kids (who are) two, three years old and they want to teach them how to skate,” Starkell said.

“Now, they might not have that opportunity to teach them to skate anywhere, so why not just build a little rink?”

Felske is happy with the rink he built in his backyard, and he’s looking forward to spending time on the ice with his family. He thinks the idea is catching on.

“I think it’s going to be just like how swimming pools were in the summer, you’re going to see a lot more outdoor rinks in the winter,” he said.

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