OLDS — Council has approved changes to its community standards bylaw to deal with backyard outdoor rinks.
The bylaw says no one is allowed to construct a private ice rink on town-owned property.
All private ice rinks are only allowed to be used Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. as per the bylaw.
It also says no person shall allow excessive noise from the rink, also as per the bylaw.
In addition, no person shall install lights that are directed at any adjoining properties. They must make sure the light does not adversely affect adjacent sites.
Mayor Mike Muzychka said he supported the provision regarding the hours backyard rinks could be in operation with a view to keeping noise in check, “but that would probably be the end of my support for any more regulations with regards to back door rinks, personal backyard rinks.”
The biggest debate was how high the boards for those rinks should be.
Initially, a proposed amendment said those boards should be no higher than one metre (39 inches). If the builder wanted to construct something higher, they would have to obtain a development permit to do so.
However, Coun. Mary Jane Harper called on the town to use "common sense." She pointed out that plywood comes in four-foot-by-eight-foot sheets.
She and other councillors doubted rink-builders would want to bother cutting off a few inches to meet the one-metre height requirement.
That sparked a discussion on whether the height limit should be two feet or four feet.
In the end, councillors agreed to drop the height restriction altogether, noting bylaws currently restrict fence height to six feet.
“This is another type of fence, right? Pretty much,” Coun. Mitch Thomson said.
Muzychka agreed the town should cut rink builders some slack.
“If you want to build an outdoor rink, as long as it’s decent looking, it’s not a huge eyesore, they should be able to make the boards as high as they want,” he said.
Coun. Mary Anne Overwater and one or two other councillors said a complaint from at least one resident – especially in regard to the noise of slapshots – triggered the bylaw revisions.
“It wasn’t having a backyard rink, it was just the noise of pounding the puck against the ice to the boards,” she said. "I am against anybody infringing on my own piece of quality of life and I believe that’s something we all need to take into consideration.
“Your little house that you have with your yard is your quality of life. And if somebody is infringing on that, then somehow, we have to be able to enforce it.”
Coun. Wanda Blatz reiterated a point she made earlier that while some people complain about the noise emanating from backyard rinks, others are fine with it and are pleased to see people of all ages getting that exercise.
In the end, councillors agreed to keep the rules to a minimum and to see how things go before deciding if any more regulations are needed.