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Outdoor rink to provide skating opportunities

Members of the Jasper Fire Department have flooded the ice regularly since Jan. 28 to prepare the rink at Robson Park for use. | MOJ photo

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

An outdoor rink at Robson Park will provide affordable skating opportunities for members of the community.

Members of the Jasper Fire Department have been flooding the ice regularly since Jan. 28. The rink was scheduled to open Feb. 6 but had to close that same day as more preparatory work was needed.

“The outdoor rink was a community-driven rink and has been a collaborative project involving a number of folks,” said Greg Van Tighem, director of protective services with the Municipality of Jasper, in a text.

In addition to the fire department, included in that collaboration is the Municipality of Jasper’s operations, culture and recreation department, chief administrative officer Bill Given and the communications team.

“We had hoped to have the ice surface operable sooner,” Van Tighem said. “However, over the past couple of weeks, we have been challenged by less-than-ideal weather conditions. Now that the ice is ready, we encourage everyone to get outdoors and enjoy the new rink safely.”

Given said via email,  “While outdoor rinks come with challenges they are also a great Alberta tradition and council clearly related the community’s desire for more low-cost and easily accessible skating opportunities. This is especially important in the context of Covid where many facilities are closed.”

In an email, communications officer Amanda Stevens said the rink will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a maximum of eight people allowed on the rink at a time.

“MOJ staff will inspect the ice surface and surroundings twice a week when outdoor skating surfaces are in use,” Stevens said. “If the ice surface contains deficiencies such as ruts and holes, staff will take appropriate steps to ensure the surface can be safely used by the public.”

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 9, council passed a motion to recommend council approval of the outdoor skating policy as presented at the next regular meeting on Feb. 16.

The draft policy includes recording facility conditions in an outdoor skating surface inspection log maintained by the municipality and closing it if there are significant maintenance or safety concerns, until they’re fixed.

At the meeting, Given said he’s heard comments that the rink is small. Councillor Bert Journault noted the same, but pointed out a small rink is easier to maintain than a large one.

Van Tighem asked for patience “as the condition of the ice surface is dependent on reasonably cold weather conditions” and encouraged people to have fun.

A list of rules can be found on the MOJ website. To check if the rink is open, visit the municipality’s Facebook page or check the signage at Robson Park.

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