Friends Fraser O'Brien, Chris and Ben Reinhardt and Youngbin Kim enjoy a game of hockey on Okanagan Lake off Kin Beach this past winter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Synthetic ice scores outdoor rink applause from Vernon

A new year-round rink could make its way to Polson, Kin Beach or Kin Racetrack

Options for a new skating rink could see a synthetic surface slide into town.

Council had directed staff to investigate options for an outdoor rink and three main ones were identified: a permanent skating rink, a temporary removable rink and a synthetic ice skating rink.

Natural ice wasn’t included as a potential option due to the Okanagan’s inconsistent winters, staff’s report reads.

READ MORE: Synthetic ice an option for proposed outdoor rink in Vernon

Originally proposed by Coun. Dalvir Nahal, Coun. Scott Anderson was also inspired to revitalize Polson Park and transform it into a winter hub of activity complete with fire pits, entertainment and perhaps food trucks.

“There is certainly demand for it. One only needs to look at what happened at Kin Beach during our freeze-out,” said Anderson as hundreds flocked to the frozen lake. “It’s time we took some bold steps to create some unique things.”

The synthetic option is the cheapest at $250,000 to $300,000 with the least maintenance and can be used year-round.

“We’d be the only place around that would have summer drop-in skating,” Mayor Victor Cumming said. “That in itself would be unique — summer and shorts on and skating.”

But don’t strap on your skates just yet, plans could take some time to evolve due to limited staff time and location options.

While a rink was initially proposed for Polson Park, a synthetic surface could be part of Vernon’s new recreation complex at the old Kin Racetrack, or at Kin Beach Park. There is also the potential to have an ice trail instead of a rink.

“I think we need to let this germinate a bit more,” Cumming said.

A recreational standalone refrigerated surface rings in the highest price ticket at around $1.2-1.5 million, but no locations were listed as good options at this time. This option was also classified as very expensive and logistically challenging. This option would be most similar to Kelowna’s Stuart Park which is listed with a $2-million cost plus refrigeration expenses.

A refrigerated traditional surface or skating trail was an option at the Kin Race Track, costing nearly $1 million with operating costs running between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.

A temporary refrigerated rink, which would require equipment and materials, would cost between $105,000 to $470,000 depending on the surface size. Annual costs for maintenance would run between $50,000 and $75,000.

A synthetic surface would also help the city meet its energy reduction and climate change goals as no electricity is required and maintenance is kept simple with daily sweeping.

READ MORE: Skating rink proposed for Vernon’s Polson Park


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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