Outdoor rink dominates discussion at public budget meeting

By Chad Klassen
November 22, 2017 - 10:08am Updated: November 22, 2017 - 2:11pm

KAMLOOPS — The City of Kamloops hosted a two-hour public budget meeting on Tuesday night, and while city staff were open to any suggestions from residents, the idea of an outdoor rink dominated some of the discussions.

While discussions were happening inside, people were playing road hockey outside the Sandman Centre. 

"It was so much fun. It was awesome. I love hockey," said one participant.

The ball hockey game, organized by the Kamloops Outdoor Ice Skating Association, was hoping to bring attention to its aspiration of one day getting an outdoor rink at Riverside Park. 

"Having been here a year ago, the pickleballers were in and they came in strong with paddles and they were able to get their concept pushed into Riverside Park to get some pickleball courts there, and they use them well," said Steve Gainey, spokesperson for the Kamloops Outdoor Ice Skating Association.

It's not the first time the idea of an outdoor skating rink has been brought forward. Gainey is hoping this time he can push it ahead. 

"I think we're hoping to see something that has a 50/50 spread of hockey, shiny hockey, just pick-up type of thing where anybody can drop in and play and having some fun," said Gainey. "Then just a public skating side for people to come with their skates and get out for a little tour in the evening."

A $50,000 study into an outdoor rink is on the supplemental budget list and would need to be approved by council in the new year to go ahead. 

"If council approves that, then they'll be directing administration to go and prepare a study," said the city's facilities manager Jeff Putnam. "What the study might look like is what would be the suitable locations that would include considerations such as public transit, accessibility, proximity to washrooms. All these things that you need when you got a winter outdoor recreation facility."

Gainey says an outdoor rink would be well-utilized, and not just for hockey.

"We see it in places like Saskatoon where there's a rink downtown and a coffee shop beside it, and it becomes a real focal point for the community," he noted. "We'd like to see some lights up around it and some Christmas music going and some sleigh rides, some winter carnival built off it, bringing the park alive for the winter months."

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