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Kelowna’s Stuart Park ice rink to reopen with small changes

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Despite record-breaking cold temperatures of late, the ice at Kelowna’s Jim Stuart Park still isn’t in yet.

But when it does come time to lacing them up and logging a few laps at the outdoor rink, you may want to bring more than just a pair of skates.

If you’re worried about the transmission of COVID-19, you may want to bring a mask.

READ MORE: Kelowna council considers options to open outdoor skating rink during pandemic

For when the rink does reopen sometime in late November, it will do so with only minor changes.

“We’re going to open it up, but with some modifications,” Kelowna mayor Colin Basran told Global News.

The changes are simple: No fire pit, no skate rentals and no food vendors on site.

“I think they will make a big deal in terms of limiting the number who attend here,” Basran said.

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However, council will not limit the number of skaters allowed on the ice at one time. Instead, the city will be asking skaters to police themselves with regards to COVID-19 safety.

“The City of Kelowna and government can’t be everywhere all the time,” Basran said.

When asked if a lack of stringent regulations conflicts with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s message, Basran was quick to point out the lower risk of virus transmission outdoors.

“There’s a big difference between being inside and outside and she has always encouraged people to get outside and to continue to be active,” Basran said.

“And we believe that is right in line with some of her recommendations.”

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One area resident, Justin Hanely, regularly visits Stuart Park when the ice is in.

A former Philadelphia Flyers draft pick in 1981, Hanley said he visited Stuart Park 61 days in a row in 2016.

He’s confident that the rink’s relaxed regulations will offer everyone a chance to enjoy a Canadian pastime while still staying safe during the pandemic.

“So go there, put your skates on, go for your skate. Take your skates off and get out of the area so you can let other people come,” Hanley said.

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If that’s doesn’t work, the city will move to more restrictive measures, requiring skaters to book ice time and limiting the surface to 50 people at a time.

And if those more restrictive measures don’t work?

“We’ll close it altogether,” Basran said.