Sarnia councillor launches contest to see backyard rinks

Lakeroad Public School students, Jack and Isaac Griffin, play on a backyard rink made with the help of their grandparents Geoff and Donna Gander. Image submitted by Heather Gander.

A Sarnia city councillor is encouraging local residents to show him their backyard rinks.

Bill Dennis started a contest on social media over the weekend, but he’s not taking full credit for the idea.

He said he was inspired to start something locally after noticing a contest launched by a Toronto area mayor.

“He put a challenge out to his community and I thought, ‘wow, that’s a fantastic idea,'” said Dennis. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s so fun to watch people submit pictures of their backyard rinks.”

Dennis thinks some of the rinks are OHL or NHL quality.

“I had no idea how many backyard rinks there were locally. It’s just incredible. It’s encouraging to see young kids, and people young at heart, get out and skate and play hockey and the pictures I’ve been sent… it’s just unbelievable.”

Dennis hoped the contest would help lift spirits across Sarnia-Lambton.

“Anything to get their minds off of what’s occurring right now and get them outdoors, get some fresh air and get them out exercising. I’ve had some people say that they’re going to start building some rinks to put in the contest, so they’re happy the draw isn’t going to occur until Friday.”

Dennis said the post has generated over 10,000 views since Saturday.

“All of these submissions, I’m going to put them in a hat and have my wife or someone draw (the winner.) The prize board is three $100 gift cards to a local restaurant (of your choice) and one company that shared it said if they choose a particular restaurant, they’ll match it.”

Heather Gander submitted a photo of her sons, Jack and Isaac Griffin, playing hockey on their outdoor rink.

She said her parents, Geoff and Donna Gander, have helped build it the past two years.

“The rink just turned out to be the best way to burn off some energy in between virtual classes, and relieve some stress, and they are just much happier kids when they have a physical outlet,” said Gander.

She said their rink is double the size this year.

“My dad, who is not able to curl right now, takes great pride in building it and maintaining the ice. It’s been a good outlet for him too, to have something to do when the recreational activities are on hold.”

Gander said the contest really warmed her heart.

“Just encouraging people to focus on the positive, getting outside and spending time with your family and I think we just have to make the best of the situation,” she said.

Winners will be drawn January 14.