A community association in northwest Calgary has needed to replace its aging outdoor rink for some time and they hope that a fully accessible rink will be the perfect replacement.

The rink at the Parkdale Community Association has been in operation for approximately 30 years and officials say it’s reached the end of its lifetime.

Instead of renovating the outdoor rink to make it last another 30 years, members say it might be time to choose a different path for the facility, one that’s inclusive and accessible to all.

“It’s important because we have so many different users at this facility and it’s open to anybody. I think that’s really critical not only in attracting the people in our community that use our rink but also making it available to the people in Calgary,” says Amanda Affonso, president of the PCA.

In order to achieve their goal, the PCA has partnered with Level Playing Field, an accessibility consulting firm based in Calgary.

“Our role in the rink is to help with the accessibility and work with the City of Calgary and Parkdale Community Centre in making sure that as they upgrade the rink, we can include sledge hockey,” says Darby Young, a principal accessibility strategist with the company.

Currently in Western Canada there is no devoted outdoor sledge hockey facility and with ice time at a premium, the Parkdale plan will be a great benefit for those groups, Young says.

“It’s really important because as accessibility is now coming to the forefront, we definitely want our kids engaged. We want the kids to be able to have fun and to be able to play outside and this adds a special feature where the kids aren’t tied to being inside.”

The most significant upgrade would be the installation of clear plexi-boards to allow sledge players to sit on the bench and watch the action.

Andy Thiessen, the PCA’s fund development coordinator, says the NHL-sized rink will also be replaced, along with the modified boards and concrete skirt around the outside.

“One of the other updates we’re going to do is the social area. We’re going to extend the deck and put in an outside locker room. This allows us to host tournaments, even a Timbits tournament or grassroots players. We can host private events and create this as a community space.”

Young says they also want to make sure that anyone with a disability can enjoy it year-round.

“I just think that having the outdoor rink not for sledge hockey but for all individuals is a phenomenal thing,” Young says. “The fact that, now, we are having the chance to add it to our outdoor recreation here in the City of Calgary is phenomenal.”

To help progress the plan, the group has to raise $500,000 to pay for the upgrades. They’ve managed to gather $125,000 through a provincial grant but are now in the progress of looking for other funding sources.

There is also a GoFundMe campaign in place to help out in the effort.

There is no timeline on when the upgrades could be completed.

(With files from Jaclyn Brown)