Derek Patten has always had a love for hockey and outdoor ice rinks.
The project manager for Pleinad Construction in Vanderhoof has worked on the road for the past 15 years across Canada.
“I always take my crew out to find a local rink, and we play a couple of times a week,” he said.
“I moved back to Vanderhoof about ten months ago when I noticed this winter we don’t have an outdoor rink, so I thought it would be a great thing for the community to have.”
Patten originally had his sight on Riverside Park. However, after approaching the District, it was recommended Ferland Park would be the best location.
Patten approached local businesses and residents to help cover the cost of materials.
His efforts to construct the rink along with the team at Pleinad Construction paid off Wednesday, Jan. 12.
The District confirmed that public works staff would be planning to flood and fill it over the next week or so, weather permitting.
“It will take a few days after flooding for the ice to set,” the District wrote on Facebook.
“We ask residents to be cautious around the frame and outdoor ice rink until it is ready for use. We look forward to having an additional outdoor activity to enjoy this winter.”
Patten said the reaction has been of excitement from individuals of all ages.
Young people passing by were super thrilled, as were parents asking Patten who would be able to use the outdoor rink.
“I told them it was free for public use, all hours every day—they were so excited,” Patten said.
“And there were some elderly people that came through the park and said that they used to have a rink there like 15 to 20 years ago and how nice it was to see so many families using it, so I’m really looking forward to seeing that again.”
Patten has two young boys, 6 and 4, and his wife is a professional hockey ref who was a triple-A women’s hockey player.
All are looking forward to hitting the outdoor rink that will be lit up at night, especially Patten’s one son who plays hockey and has been disappointed his parents have been unable to enter the arena with him due to new COVID-19 restrictions.
The rink has been designed to be taken down, stored and put up every year.
Patten said he hopes to make it into a multi-year development project with a concrete slab and open-roof concept.
“I read a book when my kids were born about the people that raise successful children and they’re always people that are most tied to their communities, so I’ve been looking for some way I could give back to my community, and I’m so passionate about this because I love hockey and I’m kind of a winter guy, so it all just made perfect sense,” he added.
“It has left me with a great feeling of being able to give something back to my town.”