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Accessible outdoor rink in Calgary achieves gold certification

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Despite the temperature hovering around -20 C, it's time for hockey players to slide onto the ice at Alberta's first accessible outdoor rink.

The Parkdale Community Rink in northwest Calgary is ready for its first full winter skating and hockey season.

It was built with accessibility for sledge hockey in mind.

"I think it's super important to have an accessible rink because outdoor hockey is for everybody," said project manager John Butterwick.

"When people show up, they show up with their families, their friends and they're all different ages and abilities. To have a rink that's specifically designed for accessibility has made a huge impact on the community," he said.

The Parkland rink has now officially received the "Certified Gold" rating from the Rick Hansen Foundation's accessibility certification program.

The rink has a long list of accessibility features, including wider entry gates, clear rink boards to allow players and spectators to watch while in their sleds or wheelchairs and accessible change rooms and washrooms.

"Having a rink like this that's fully accessible here in Calgary is actually huge for players like myself," said Troy Clemmer, a local sledge hockey player who plays on several teams to try and get as much time on the ice as possible.

"Having that outdoor rink and feeling that rush and that cold air makes it that much more fun, too."

Several sledge hockey teams have already booked the rink for weekly practices and shinny.

"For me personally, it's really great because it gives me another opportunity to grow my skills. It's another place to do that," said Shane Mott, another sledge hockey player who hit the ice on Thursday.

The community volunteer group who helps clear the snow and work on the ice hopes to have it fully open by this coming weekend. 

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