On New Year’s Eve, Regina residents will be able to enjoy the 110,000-square-foot rink — dubbed Iceville — that stretches from end zone to end zone and is large enough to fit more than six National Hockey League-sized ice surfaces inside.
A 24-member crew has been working around the clock since the beginning of December. They’ve pumped over 1.3 million litres of water from the four corners of the field — through borrowed fire hoses — and they aren’t done pumping yet.
Tim Reid, president and CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association Limited, is excited for skaters to take to the ice this week — especially at night.
“When the lights are on and a little bit of snow is falling, it really is like your very own snow globe,” he said, “And it’s all yours.”
Reid said they worked closely with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to ensure all guidelines within the current COVID-19 restrictions were followed. Thirty people will be allowed into the facility per 1-hour time slot to allow for proper physical distancing and masks will be mandatory even on the ice.
“You will have to register in advance,” Reid explained. “You’ll scan when you come in, that way we can track who you are and that you’re identified to be here, you’ll come in through one set of doors and as you can see everything is physically distanced.”
The online registration opened at noon on Monday and skating will be available free of charge from noon to 8 p.m. daily until the end of February. A concession with a warm-up room will be available to users during their allotted skating time.
On-site skate rental is working on being put in place for those needing equipment. Helmet use is recommended, but not mandatory. Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted at the door if skaters would like to donate.
Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said she’s excited for the outdoor rink to be open for everyone to enjoy, regardless of financial barriers during the COIVD-19 pandemic.
“I think the ability to have these kinds of opportunities and memories is unique and needed,” she said. “It gives everybody a chance to connect from a distance and see other people.”
Reid said pucks and sticks are not allowed during the public skating time right now, but if the current public health restrictions change, there could be an opportunity to play.
“As part of our winter festival plans, we’ve talked about how do we get some three-on-three pickup hockey, how do we get curling out here,” he said. “Obviously, all that is dependent on COVID-19.
“If we all do our part, hopefully we’ll get to use this for more than just skating.”
Reid said as of right now, after the ice melts they are planning ahead for the Saskatchewan Roughriders to hit the field this spring.
“We’re going to prepare our major festivals and events and the (Canadian Football League) season like we do every year,” he said. “Until somebody tells us we can’t have kick-off, we’re going to do our best to let people skate and as soon as this water thaws we are going get ready for a CFL season.”
More information and to register for public skating can be found on the Evraz Place website.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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