A Slick New Attraction

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It’s 3 degrees C and Lindsay Windecker shivers slightly as she leans on the metal railings surrounding the temporary ice rink in downtown Victoria’s Centennial Square.

As marketing coordinator for the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), she’s been largely responsible for the installation of this novel yuletide attraction. 

“This is a first for Victoria,” she says. “It’s great, it’s at the heart of downtown and right in front of city hall.”

The rink’s been up and running since Dec. 3, and has been a great success so far, with too many people to count coming through over its first weekend.

“But I’d say that close to a thousand people came through over the two days,” says Windecker.

To ensure the highest quality of ice, the DVBA hired Centre Ice Arenas, a team from Mississauga, Ont., responsible for more than 40 similar arenas nationwide. Frozen layers of water were slowly built up over piping containing a non-toxic coolant. The surface is smoothed via the use of a hose strapped to a mop/broom hybrid — a device Windecker likes to call the “human Zamboni.”

Having the arena outdoors adds to the festive authenticity.

“As the air and the ground grow colder and warmer, the ice expands and contracts, giving it the feel of natural, outdoor ice rather than the indoor rinks at the rec centres around the city,” says Windecker. “It’s a lot like skating on a frozen pond.”

{advertisement}The rink comes at a cost of $60,000, and was paid for with funds from the DVBA’s events and promotions budget.

“The business community has been very welcoming of it,” says Windecker. “They’re glad to have another downtown attraction, somewhere for people to come for a break, then get back to shopping.”

Skaters pay $2 to use the rink, and another $5 to rent skates, with proceeds covering the cost of the skates and the remainder to offset the cost of the rink itself.

“People love it,” says Windecker. “And it’s the perfect place for a winter date.”

The rink will remain open through Jan. 2. Hours are as follows:       

  • Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Noon-8 p.m.
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: Noon-5 p.m.
  • Sundays: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Christmas Eve & Christmas Day: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • New Year’s Eve: Noon-8 p.m.
  • New Year’s Day: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.