Explainer: Will west Edmonton get its fair share of rinks?

By Aaron Taylor

EDMONTON — Coun. Karen Leibovici raised eyebrows at a city council budget hearing on Nov. 28 when she questioned the number of rinks that will be built in Edmonton’s west end.

“I don’t want to sound too parochial, but when I look at where the cuts were made, when I look at where the demand is, when I look at the growth, it almost seems like this part of the city is being ignored,” Leibovici said.

Leibovici represents Ward 5, which encompasses the area west of the river and south of the Whitemud in addition to some neighbourhoods south of 87th Avenue. She says she just wants to make sure that the distribution of rinks is fair as the city continues to grow.

“Some kids have to drive a half hour to skate, “ Leibovici said.  “It’s not fair to our kids.”

The issue is a complex one, however. Here is a primer on how indoor rinks are allocated:

Q: What plan is this based on?

A: The city decided in 2005 that as Edmonton expands, facilities would have to expand with it. The result was the implementation of a 10-year Arena Capital Development Plan that would see the city add nine new ice sheets while updating some of the city’s existing rinks.

When the plan was implemented, Edmonton had one sheet of ice (either for purely leisure skating, or all purposes) for every 19,800 residents, and one rink for every 28,545, a ratio that is consistent with other Canadian cities that have similar populations as Edmonton. Given the city’s projected growth, the nine new sheets of ice would move the ratio to about 19,000-to-1, or 25,258 people per rink.

Q: How many rinks will be built?

A:  The city plans to increase the number of public ice sheets in Edmonton from 25 to 34 by 2019. This does not mean it will simply build nine rinks, though. The city will also be upgrading existing rinks as well as shutting down some of the older rinks. In total the city hopes to construct 15 sheets of ice while shutting down six.

Q: So, is the west end being overlooked?

A: The 10-year plan would see Edmonton’s west end, southeast and southwest receive three new sheets of ice each, while the north end would receive no new rinks.

Still, Leibovici wonders whether the west end is getting its fair share of new rinks.

“If we are looking at distribution of rinks through out the city,” Leibovici says.  “We have to make sure that distribution is fair.”


Map of new rinks. Taken from Edmonton's 10-year Arena Development Plan

Q: And is the distribution fair?

A: If you look at the projected growth of each of the city’s four sections, it seems like the west end is getting its fair share.

The west end’s population is expected to grow by 57 per cent between 2006 and 2026. Comparatively, the southeast is expected to see a growth of 54 per cent, and the north is expected to see a 51 percent growth. But the largest margin of growth is expected to come from the southwest.  This area is expected to see an increase of 81.6 per cent to its population between 2006 and 2026.

With these numbers in mind, the city decided to allocate three new rinks to the west, southwest and southeast sections of the city, while the north will receive no new rinks.

But the maps used by the city to chart population have different boundaries than the maps used to determine the allocation of rinks.

The maps drawn up to determine rink allocation broke the city into four segments: the north, west, southwest and southeast. However, the initial maps used to determine Edmonton’s projected population used six zones, with central zones in the north and south.

When the city determined where new rinks should go, it split the central north zone into the north and west. Likewise, the central south zone was dispersed between the southeast and southwest zones.

This is important because it makes it impossible to determine how many rinks each of the four sections should get.

To accurately do this, a new map of future rink allocation needs to be drawn, one that matches population and rink allocation among the same boundaries. Only when this is done can it accurately be determined how many rinks each of the city’s zones should get.


Photo taken from 10-year Arena Capital Development Plan


Photo taken from 10-year Arena Capital Development Plan











Q: How does the number of rinks in the west end match up with the rest of the city?

A: As stated earlier, the city hopes to maintain a ratio of 25,258 residents per Edmonton rink. This new rink allocation would bring this ratio in the west end to 18,877-to-1, which is the best rink-per-resident ratio in the city.  This is how the rest of the city is projected to play out:

  • North: 42,130-to-1
  • Central north: 36,062-to-1
  • Central south: 20,972-to-1
  • Southwest: 24,883-to-1
  • Southeast: 40,036-to-1