After reopening four weeks ago, public skating at Stuart Park in downtown Kelowna has been a resounding success by all accounts.
“This is one of the best amenities the city has ever built,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran told Global News.
So much so that in order to get out on the ice, you have to book online — well in advance.
Residents are embracing the chance to get outside and get some exercise during the current COVID-19 lockdown.
“The opening of the Stuart Park rink has been a huge success,” Basran said.
“I think, in large part, due to the great cooperation we have had from our residents.”
Residents have flooded the rink day and night, booking days in advance, just to get a chance to lace their skates and enjoy a great Canadian winter pastime.
“Going to get some exercise and not think about the pandemic for a while,” Ryan Kerns said as he headed into the rink.
After an initial issue with the online reservation system, things at the rink are smooth as ice for skaters.
“For an outdoor experience like this, it’s great. I thoroughly enjoy it,” said Jeff Bride, who tries to get out at least three times a week.
Mike Fedorko is one of the dedicated few who try to hit the ice every day.
“It’s just a great vibe. You come down, you got the mountains, you got the people, you got the whole thing,” Fedorko said.
“On top of that, it’s free. It’s just a great service to the city,” Fedorko added before sitting down to lace up his skates.
With the rink booked solid into next week, the only question is how long will it last?
Weather-wise, it should be just fine with an extended cold spell forecast for the next two weeks.
And, according to Basran, everything should be fine as long as people continue to respect health regulations.
“Taking the right precautions, making sure that everyone is respectful of one another and their space, and making sure that everyone is healthy,” said the mayor.
If skaters can manage that, Basran maintains that Stuart Park will continue to be one of Kelowna’s best public amenities during the pandemic.