Work on Fernie’s outdoor skating rink is underway, thanks to a overwhelming response from volunteers in the community. The rink is set to be finished before the holidays. Alexandra Heck/The Free Fress

Fernie to have skating by Christmas

The new outdoor rink is tentatively set to open for skating on December 20, with the grand opening to take place on December 21.

Look back: Fernie receives funding for outdoor skating rink

Many skating options will be available at the soon-to-be-completed skating rink in Fernie. It will be open to all ages, and a few hours every day will be dedicated to those groups with programming already in place. Several groups of younger youth are looking forward to using this ice as they have trouble traveling outside of Fernie to skate on other ice. Right now these groups include Isabella Dicken Elementary, The Fernie Academy, the Learn To Skate program and Timbits. Times for these programs will be scheduled in to work with Fernie Minor Hockey and Fernie Figure Skating Club.

The regulation-size ice surface of the new outdoor rink is larger than the Fernie Memorial Arena. Half ice was a priority when planning for the outdoor rink. Fernie Minor Hockey recently purchased half-boards so that two different activities can take place simultaneously.

When the ice isn’t being used for youth programs, the outdoor rink will be open to the public. The City of Fernie has proposed that ice hockey be played at the outdoor rink, and pleasure skating take place at the Courthouse. Pleasure skating is set to take place at the large rink for a few hours on weekends.

A full schedule of program times and public skates will be released after the leisure services board meets on Wednesday, December 13.

According to the schedule in its current state, the outdoor rink will open at sunrise, and the lights will be turned off at 10 p.m. In discussion, the Leisure Services board decided on 10 p.m. to allow men’s hockey to be played in the evening.

Some residents of nearby homes voiced concern that the lights from the rink would disturb them at night.

“We’re really hopeful that the citizens will be respectful of the community right beside the Aquatic Centre, and abide by those times,” said Leisure Service Advisory Board Chair, Jocelyn Sombrowski.

Lights will be set up at the rink, feeding off of power from the Aquatic Centre. Two lights will be placed on the south side of the rink, facing towards the Aquatic Centre and away from surrounding homes. Additionally, two lights will be placed at either end of the rink.

The water source for the bike wash will be used to flood the arena. An on-demand hot water tank will be used by the Zamboni to perform hot floods on the ice.

“The ice should be really good,” said City of Fernie CAO Norm McInnis.

The Zamboni will be kept on-site in a heated housing unit.

Many local businesses have donated time and resources to help bring this structure to life. A full list of businesses who helped make this possible will be published with the story on the grand opening.

editor@thefreepress.ca

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