A community gift

By AJ MacLeod

Jan. 20, 2016

It was one of those days you’d want to spend inside. It was -10 but with the wind it felt like the coldest place on Earth.

It was a day that only the bravest dared to go outside.

But the cold weather didn’t matter to Jacob Schnarr and his friends. On this day they were at the Bunbury outdoor playing hockey.

“It’s the best place in Stratford to play a game of hockey with your buddies,” Schnarr said.

He and his friends make an effort to play twice a week on the ice surface.

“It’s right beside my house so I might as well take advantage of it when I can.”

The rink was originally built as a ball hockey court by the city of Stratford in 2005. It was an immediate hit with all the young kids in the neighbourhood.

The town of Stratford began using the ball hockey court as a pond hockey surface back in 2010 and it’s been a huge it ever sense.

Town of Stratford employee Jason Hughes said the rink is more than just a thick sheet of ice and two nets.

“It’s a place where people can come and have a great time with their friends.”

Hughes is the town’s recreational maintenance worker. He takes care of a number of things across Stratford but during the winter his favourite thing to do is maintain the ice at Bunbury.

“I love taking care of it because I know it means a lot to so many people.

“When I go to check on the ice and I see people using it, that’s when I truly love my job.”

Hughes tries to get there as much as he can to keep the ice in perfect condition.

“Four times a week is usually what I aim for, depending on the week it can vary.”

With all the storms last winter, the ice didn’t get used as much as it had the year prior.

“We weren’t sure if last winter’s decline in popularity was because of the weather or because people just didn’t like it anymore.

“But with the way things are going right now, we think it was probably the weather.”

Hughes loves the fact that it’s one of Stratford biggest attractions this time of year.

It’s the only community run outdoor rink on Prince Edward Island, making it unique to the city of Stratford.