INNISFAIL/BOWDEN – It may be colder now but if citizens in Bowden and Innisfail can brave the chill there are outdoor skating rinks to help burn off the holiday season calories.
And there are new facilities in both communities.
During the third week of December, Menno Sietzema, public works supervisor for the Town of Bowden, led a team to construct a new outdoor rink that measures about 30 by 50 metres in Centennial Park, south of the Bowden Igloo Arena and behind the FCSS building.
“This is the first year that we have built a rink in this park,” said Sietzema. “It’s just another place for kids to hang out and have fun over the winter months and there is a fire pit and picnic tables nearby.”
Bowden’s new winter recreational facility, which was built just for leisure skating, is the town’s second outdoor rink, joining the longstanding boarded one at Abby's Park where hockey action is permitted.
In Innisfail, there is also excitement for a new outdoor rink.
Last year for the first time the town created an outdoor rink at its own Centennial Park beside the cookhouse shelter. This year there are two, with the new up above the other rink and near the park’s main walking path.
Ken Kowalchuk, the communications coordinator for the Town of Innisfail, called them the Lower Rink and the Upper Rink. Both of these new boardless rinks were constructed earlier this month before the bitter cold set in.
“Just with the way the weather has been this year, we went from having no outdoor ice to having outdoor ice in a period of a week,” said Kowalchuk, adding the second rink at Centennial Park was added this year due to the popularity shown last year for the first facility.
“Because of the pressures people were feeling due to the pandemic and restrictions, and because we heard a lot of positive feedback from the community, we added that second surface.
“Our parks department will continue to spray the ice surfaces, so the conditions of the rinks should continue to improve in the next few weeks."
Innisfail also has the longstanding boarded outdoor rink at 37th Street and 54th Avenue, as well as the boardless facility on the north side of the Arena.
In the meantime, staff at the Town of Innisfail have the money for another outdoor skating rink. The town’s recently passed 2022 municipal budget included $400,000 to create a new facility.
These funds won’t be used to upgrade or repair any existing facilities, said Kowalchuk.
“The next step is to look at possible new locations but we haven’t determined one yet,” said Kowalchuk, adding it’s likely the new outdoor facility will be created some time in 2021. “Because the money has been allocated in this year’s budget, I believe it is to be used this year.”