The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly restricted recreation options for many residents in Canora and the surrounding area, but thankfully there are still outdoor possibilities.
For those who like to strap on the skates and get out on the ice while enjoying the great outdoors, there is a new reason to visit King George Park. After recently receiving approval from Canora town council, an outdoor skating rink has been completed and is now open to the public according to Aaron Herriges, director of leisure services. But he said this new opportunity comes with responsibility for those who use it.
“The rink will be monitored daily and maintained by the rec and leisure department,” said Herriges. “There is signage related to COVID-19 with rules posted for the public to abide by. Please make yourself aware of these rules.”
The posted outdoor rink rules remind skaters that any participation is totally at the users’ own risk:
- The Town of Canora is not responsible for the loss, theft or damage of personal items, or for accidents.
- Please be careful, the ice surface is not of indoor quality.
- Use of tobacco or alcohol products is strictly prohibited.
- No loitering or use of the rink is allowed without skates.
- Abusive language and behaviour will not be tolerated.
- All skaters eight years of age and under must be supervised at all times by a parent/guardian.
- Users will be responsible for any damage done to the rink.
- Respect others and share the rink accordingly.
- If there is snow on the rink, bring a shovel and help clean it off. Park labourers do not work on weekends.
- Have fun!
COVID guidelines for outdoor winter activities are also posted at the rink, which include:
- People exhibiting signs of illness should not enter outdoor recreation areas.
- People not from the same household must maintain two metres of physical distancing at all times.
- Limit gathering with other people when entering and leaving the outdoor recreation area and supervising children.
- Ensure frequent hand hygiene for everyone before, during and after outdoor play.
- If rink surfaces are busy, come back when it’s not as busy or use another area.
- Do not share toys or sports equipment between groups.
- The maximum number of people permitted at any one time on outdoor rinks or skating surfaces will not exceed 30, as long as a physical distance of two metres is maintained between non-household groups. Avoid gathering with other individuals or groups.
- No scrimmaging (shinny games) on outdoor rinks.
The rink measures approximately 40 by 50 feet and was created with an added figure 8 feature to give skaters more options as they enjoy the new facility. Construction started behind schedule, mainly due to the unusually warm weather experienced so far this winter, but as Herriges observed, “We’re not complaining.”
The rink was flooded by Town of Canora staff and equipment. Herriges admitted the project had its share of challenges.
“It took a while to build up the ice because the park is far from having a level landscape,” he observed. “We knew this going in but we like the location with all the lights being there. If you are not flooding over water barrier (plastic or concrete), basically you build your base by lightly watering packed snow. This develops an ice crust and creates the barrier that retains the water. Then it’s just applying leveling flood after leveling flood until its ready.”
Due to the lack of heavy snowfall so far this winter, keeping the ice cleared hasn’t been overly difficult.
“But we have equipment for that, if needed,” said Herriges. “The rink isn’t maintained on the weekends so in the event of some snow fall, the public is free to use the shovel provided to clear it for use. There is no indoor tent with heat or amenities, but we did provide several benches.”
One of the benefits of the new outdoor rink is being able to glide around the ice while enjoying the surrounding scenery of King George Park
This year is a trial run. Herriges reminds Canora and area residents that if the rink is used by enough people, there is the possibility that the project could be expanded in the future.
But for those skaters looking for better quality ice, the Canora Civic Centre is open during the pandemic for public skating and shoot around times. Schedules can be found at canora.com under skating and hockey.