The Scugog skating oval is back for Port Perry, with the Township picking up the insurance tab

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Published December 23, 2021 at 1:06 pm

John Mackie aboard his Olympia cleaning the ice on Lake Scugog

The skating oval on Lake Scugog in downtown Port Perry is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving, only this year Santa will have his liability insurance and a few expenses covered.

The elves gotta eat too, you know,

There’s been an outdoor rink on the lake for most of the last 35 years, thanks to the volunteer efforts of ‘Santa’ John Mackey and the Port Perry Marina staff. The “extremely successful and well used” rink was provided last year during the first winter of the pandemic but near the end of the season Mackey’s insurers told him they wouldn’t cover the liability for the rink going forward.

That’s when Scugog Township stepped in, and Council agreed at the December 20 meeting to pick up the tab for insurance and provide $4,000 from the 2022 Operating Budget to cover the required testing and record keeping.

The arrangement will allow Mackey to continue to create and maintain (using a pick-up truck and an Olympia ice resurfacing machine) an ice oval for the public and be covered for liability purposes if he operates under defined guidelines and undertakes specific testing and risk mitigation requirements.

Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido called the rink, which will be in front of Palmer Park, south of the Government Pier to the south end of Joe Fowler north ball diamond, a “wonderful winter activity” and expressed thanks the Township and Mackey were able to come to an agreement. “We are very grateful for all of his volunteer work.”

The only other occasion Mackey received any major government/business assistance was 20 years ago when the marina and the Scugog Chamber of Commerce created the Scugog Ice Palace and skating trail in front of Palmer Park.

Initially well received, the Palace was discontinued after a few years because of inconsistencies with the ice and reduced number of volunteers before Mackey brought the skating oval back last year.

Those risk management guidelines (as outlined in the Durham Municipal Insurance Pool) cover ice thickness (12-15 inches of ice required for maintenance); testing (test holes should be made with an auger and if there is water between the layers of ice, only the top level of ice should be measured); inspections (daily and whenever there is a significant rise in temperature or above 5 degrees Celsius); and signage, which will be provided by the Township.

The skating oval will be open from January 1 to February 28, weather permitting. Council was advised that in recent years the temperatures have not been conducive for thick enough ice for the public to skate until mid January and generally the public has not been able to skate into March.

However, if weather conditions allow, Mackey will continue his services into March.

The Township will provide Mackey with any used, sharp blades for the Olympia and a pump from the Parks depot for his use for the season.

To offset the cost of testing, the Township is seeking sponsorship from Durham Region Tourism and Central Counties Tourism, as well as local businesses.

Photo by Port Girl vis Reddit

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