The extreme cold temperatures from the Christmas break have stopped many people from enjoying the use of free outdoor skating.

The current warmer temperatures experienced this week are helping to change this.

The City of Weyburn rink is available for use and is located by Weyburn Leisure Centre and the old junior high school at the 5th street entrance to Jubilee Park.

There are also rinks which Weyburn residents have made for free community use.

Mike Manko-Bauche with friends and family members have prepared an outdoor rink on the frozen river by Confederation Drive where children and parents are often seen sledging down the hill.

"It's just an opportunity to open something up in Weyburn," explained Manko-Bauche who did the same thing in Regina on the river when he previously lived there.

"If any parents are concerned you can watch kids Sled and watch kids skate at the same time."

Manko-Bauche also said the rink was easy to prepare.

"We try to leave room on either side of what we have shovelled up so people can still walk their dogs and ski on there."

The Weyburn Fire Department has recently given safety advice for taking part in activities on ice, particularly on rivers.

With the recent extreme cold, Manko Bauche is not too concerned about the ice being too thin.

"I didn't take an official measurement but the Government says you only need four inches and judging by the cracks in the ice it looks a little more than four inches that's for sure."

Another outdoor rink option in Weyburn can be found in the Northeast part of the city at the Park in Gordon Miles place.

A number of children were out yesterday enjoying the ice as Ryan Birnie, co-founder of the rink and others were adding safety netting around the rink.

"I'm kind of the maintenance man, I look after the ice, shovelling and making sure the ice is in good shape for the kids."

Birnie first decided to make an outdoor rink with some other hockey dads from Weyburn.

"We approached the city a couple of years ago, we got green lights from them and then we rolled over to DC Constructions house to build the boards."

After building the boards, neighbours, hockey dads and friends got together to put the rink together.

This is not a solo effort and Birnie is grateful to all those who have made this a great community project.

"Neighbours Shane and Curtis have been huge supporters and helpers. Justin Morris, Trevor Danton, tons of guys around town that are always lending a hand."

There has been so much help that Birnie has had to turn people away at times.

"We have had lots of support from some oil companies. The company that I've worked for, Element has kicked in in some sponsorship. Bourassa's, DC Construction, DFA Transport, they haul all the water in. We raised maybe $5000-$7000 to build the boards and then the rest is just time people donate to the outdoor rink."

The rink has been well used so far this week.

"Yesterday it was only -8, -9 all day yesterday and we had somewhere between 20-25 most of the day. Today it's a little windier a little colder. There have been about 8-10 skaters out there for the brunt of the day."

Birnie has created an entrance in his fence to help the skaters have quick access to his garage where there are benches, hot chocolate and snacks to warm up when needed and change in and out of skates.

"The garage is a nice touch for the smaller kids that need some warm-up breaks and also makes it a little bit more fun because there are lots of good hockey conversations going on in the garage."

Birnie and his partners in the project continue to make sure they stay on good terms with the city and all the neighbours around the park with noise levels and lighting.

There are some plans to improve the rink but for the remainder of this year, the focus is on maintenance until the season likely ends around March.

Birnie is grateful for the support.

"I just can't thank everybody enough in the community," said Birnie as he thanked the oil businesses, friends and community members for all the support including equipment donations.



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