Kelowna company wants to turn your pool into an ice rink | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna company wants to turn your pool into an ice rink

Brent Dodge on the rink he built over his back yard pool with his daughters Emelia in pink and Ivy.
Image Credit: Submitted/Brent Dodge
February 14, 2021 - 9:00 AM

Brent Dodge figured there had to be a way to get more use out of his backyard swimming pool in Kelowna.

Like so many Okanagan residents with pools, it’s something that takes up a lot of space and is only used on sunny summer days.

“I said ‘I think I can skate on my pool. I’m going to figure out how,’” the owner of West Coast Ice Rinks told iNFOnews.ca. “And I thought, after I built it, it looks pretty good. I thought others might want this too.”

He did his research, hired a structural engineer to make sure the platforms he builds are strong enough (“you can park a tank on this and it’s not going to buckle”), talked to cement contractors to make sure the weight would not damage the concrete around the pool, teamed up with a chiller manufacturer in Eastern Canada, built a website and started up West Coast Ice Rinks.

While he’s happy to build you a rink on any piece of flat ground, tennis or basketball court with a liner and boards for as little as $1,200, that’s not going to be useful for long.

Nor do a lot of people have the space for such a rink.

“I figured everybody in Kelowna has a pool and they don’t have much yard outside of that,” he said. “A lot of time, if they have kids and when they close their pool, the kids don’t have much of a backyard to play in. Most of the yard is taken up by the pool so, how can we make that space more accessible?”

That led to what is, essentially, a floor built over the pool, resting on the decking so the pool liner isn’t damaged. It’s covered with a liner and various kinds of side boards can be installed.

Only about two inches of water are needed for a rink since it’s already perfectly flat. He’s even invented his own hand Zamboni that attaches to a hose so the rink can be flooded in four or five minutes.

This is the hand Zamboni that comes with your new rink.
This is the hand Zamboni that comes with your new rink.
Image Credit: Submitted/Brent Dodge

The hand Zamboni is free with each purchase.

The simple over-the-pool rink costs about $10,000 but it does have its limitations.

“Most people in the Okanagan don’t build rinks,” Dodge said. “It’s not worth the money to only use it in the first two weeks in February. The refrigerated chiller eliminates the need to rely on the weather.”

That’s where the big bucks come into play.

The next step up is a $20,000 synthetic ice sheet.

But the "sweet spot" is the chiller system.

A standard 20 foot by 40 foot rink with a 10 ton chiller will cost in the range of $50,000 to $55,000. But, if you want to go big and have a Rogers Arena in your backyard, that could cost more like $100,000.

Along with the chiller (or two for the bigger rinks) comes coils of glycol-filled pipes to be chilled enough to make ice that’s suitable for temperatures up to 10 C. That means being able to skate outdoors for four or five months, like people do on the Stuart Park outdoor rink in downtown Kelowna.

These glycol-filled coils can keep ice on the rink even if it's 10C outside.
These glycol-filled coils can keep ice on the rink even if it's 10C outside.
Image Credit: Submitted/Brent Dodge

The difference between the two is that Dodge’s rink is portable.

“Our system is plug and play,” he said. “Everything comes in one big package and it’s click, click and away you go.”

It takes three to five days to set up but it can easily be removed in the spring and stored for next winter. Even the water from the melted ice can be drained into the pool.

That's just the start.

"The rinks here could get very elaborate," Dodge said. "We could put full-on NHL hockey dasher boards around the rink. We can get custom boards. We can put logos in the ice. There’s a ton of stuff we can do outside just the basic rink."

Dodge explained all this while his two daughters were chomping at the bit to get out skating, even though it was -10C.

“My girls didn’t know how to skate two weeks ago and now they’re out and playing hockey,” Dodge said.

Brent Dodge with Emelia (left) and Ivy.
Brent Dodge with Emelia (left) and Ivy.
Image Credit: Submitted/Brent Dodge

While the residential market is his target audience, he noted that there are plenty of community venues that could easily be turned into viable rinks for five months instead of the few, if any, weeks that they’re turned into ice rinks now.

The idea is not unique to Dodge. Lots of people have similar systems in colder climates in Canada and the U.S. but, as far as he knows, this is the first of its kind in the Okanagan.

Despite its mild winters, Kelowna is a hockey town, Dodge said, and more outdoor ice rinks will help more kids hone their skills.

It also stretches out that time the family can be around the backyard pool.

“Kelowna is a summer town and I feel like people's outdoor family activities really shut down when the pools are closed,” Dodge said. “That’s something I’m hoping to change.”

For more information, go here.

Rinks can come with lights.
Rinks can come with lights.
Image Credit: Submitted/Brent Dodge

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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