June 20th, 2024

Outdoor rink open to public at Festival Square

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 15, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The moment many have been waiting for is finally here, the Festival Square ice rink is officially open for residents to enjoy for as long as the weather allows it.

On Wednesday, Lethbridge Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) executive director Sarah Amies said they conceived the idea of setting up a temporary ice rink to persuade residents to continue to enjoy the outdoors and whatever downtown has to offer regardless of the weather.

“We just want to encourage folks to enjoy the outside during the wintertime in healthy activity, fun activity like skating,” said Amies.

She said the rink encountered a potential problem when it was being filled with water as they found the ground to be on a slope and therefore the water was being distributed unevenly. She said there was a need for reinforcements in some areas to allow for the excess of water at one of the ends.

“We’ve had some reinforcements built in order to make sure that the weight of the water on this end (south end) doesn’t compromise the safety of the skating rink, and we have created some safety guidelines and rules of thumb which are posted both on the north and the south end of the ice rink, to ensure that everybody can enjoy themselves safely,” said Amies.

She said they are strongly recommending people wear helmets and other protective gear, as well as to make sure they are only using skates on the rink rather than regular shoes or sliding around on their clothing.

“The rink will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. in accordance with things like noise bylaws and what not,” said Amies.

She said there is no specific measures being taken to ensure people adhere to those rules, but they are hoping residents will use good sense and good judgement.

“During the evening, which starts extremely early these days, we get our beautiful lights on and the Christmas tree is illuminated, so it’s a very pretty environment, very festive environment to skate,” said Amies.

Project administrator for Opportunity Lethbridge, Justin Schipper, said he spent a couple of days firing up the fire hydrants and resurfacing the ice to get it up to skating standards and was happy to be able to skate on Wednesday once it was officially opened.

“It feels really good, it’s a weight off my shoulders. There’s a little bit of negativity around southern Alberta weather patterns and all that, but any day that we can get skating out here is a positive, so every day counts,” said Schipper.

He said they will try to keep the rink going for as long as weather permits.

“If we do get an extended warm period and the base melts it’ll be pretty difficult to get it back going again, but we’re hoping that doesn’t happen, we’re hoping to get a nice cold winter,” said Schipper.

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