Stuart Park ice rink will open with relaxed restrictions

Skate at your own risk

Residents will be asked to police themselves when the outdoor skating rink at Stuart Park opens near the end of November.

City council agreed with a recommendation from staff to open the rink with a three-phased approach, as outlined by sport and event services manager Doug Nicholas.

"To start, the rink would be opened on a casual use basis, providing the public the opportunity to self-regulate as the first step, with stricter safety measures (Mandatory on-line booking) in Level 2 or Level 3 (complete closure) if needed," said Nicholas.

"We believe this fluid operational approach to the Stuart Park ice rink will provide the flexibility required to respond to provincial direction quickly, appropriately and manage the site in a safe and effective manner for the 2020-2021 season."

The only difference between the Level 1 opening proposed and traditional use of the ice is the fact that ancillary services such as skate rentals, food concessions and the fire pit would not be available.

Nicholas said in the view of Interior Health, those services would make the rink an event gathering which would require strict adherence to guidelines.

"Removal of those services opens it up for casual use."

Nicholas said nobody would be onsite to monitor numbers, leaving that up to the public to regulate.

However, he did say the situation would be monitored and, if need be, the city would educate the public on crowd sizes and encouraging them to "move along."

If it became a problem, reports would come in, and we would eventually maybe move on to the next level.

"We do think the limited number of services we offer there will limit the number of people there," he says.

"If you combine that with the public comfort level around that site, we think that will also limit the numbers."

Mayor Colin Basran says the city is trying to strike a balance between what medical health officers are saying and providing opportunities for residents wishing to socialize and exercise.

"It's putting it back on residents to police themselves because government can't be everywhere, and be everything to everyone," he said.

"There needs to be some personal accountability by everyone in our community that if you are concerned, just don't go, or take the necessary precautions you believe you need to take in order to be safe.

"If it gets to be too much, we'll move on to Stage 2."

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