As the pandemic continues into winter months, the Kamloops Outdoor Skating Association is hosting a fundraiser to support community associations managing outdoor ice rinks in the area.
The fundraiser is dubbed Skating is Good Medicine, with the idea being that skating can provide a beneficial outlet through frosty months.
“We think that what happened in the summer, where people really took to being outdoors, is going to continue in the winter, and having a usable, good quality ice will really give families and individuals a chance to get outside in the wintertime,” KOSA member Nancy Bepple said.
KOSA has initiated a GoFundMe campaign, with the goal of raising $10,000 for two outdoor rinks in Heffley Creek, behind the elementary school, and in Centennial Park in Westsyde. The rinks are available publicly, open to everyone and not specifically limited to neighbourhoods.
Bepple said many people may not realize outdoor rinks are managed by volunteers. The city’s parks department provides shovels, barricades and change rooms, but community associations are responsible for volunteers to maintain the ice. The city also provides safety protocols for COVID-19 through the recreation department.
Bepple noted a key issue for associations managing the rinks is the increasing cost of liability insurance. In addition, she noted the need for equipment that could be more efficient for volunteers in managing the ice, such as snowblowers.
“We do know that it’s a challenge every year to get ice and keep it in good quality,” Bepple said, noting it may be increasingly challenging this year amid the pandemic. “We want to support them.”
Meanwhile, after the city saw more people exploring nature parks this year during the pandemic, it is planning creative ways in which to keep people active through winter.
City of Kamloops civic facilities manager Jeff Putnam said nature trail visits are up 31 per cent this year and the city is expecting the same increase in other activities through winter, which is why it is trying to create safe outdoor spaces for residents.
Putnam said the city is in the midst of planning work. This week, he met with his team to discuss providing additional space for snowshoeing.
“I think that’s going to be really popular this winter,” Putnam said. “What we’re looking at is it would have to be a minimum amount of snow, otherwise we would damage the turf. But we’re looking at McArthur Island, Westsyde Centennial Park, places like that where there’s sports fields and relatively flat area. We’ll be providing more information to the public on that as we develop our plans.”
Putnam said the city is looking at designating an area with managed directions around soccer fields.
In addition, he said the city is also planning to keep the McArthur Island mini golf course open through the winter and is exploring additional opportunity for cross-country skiing. He said the city will not set tracks, but could provide space, similar to that for snowshoeing.
Putnam said the city will also be providing information about places to snowbike, with concern cyclists may veer off designated trails and damage sensitive areas, such as grasslands, and is also offering public skating in its rinks, including at Sandman Centre and Brocklehurst Arena. Pre-registration will be required, due to occupancy restrictions and for contact tracing.
For more information on public skating this winter, click here.
To donate to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.
Lend a hand
More hands make lighter work when it comes to managing outdoor rinks, Bepple said.
For example, she suggested people put in sweat equity if heading to Inks Lake or other frozen surfaces to skate.
“It does take a lot of work to have any ice that’s useable over the winter,” she said.