The ODR enthusiasts are in for a treat. Despite a very late start to the season, the City of Winnipeg has confirmed that all rinks within Winnipeg city limits can begin preparations for the winter outdoor rink season. Other cities, towns and communities within Manitoba are also able to open their rinks to the public.
“So the good news going into the weekend is get your skates out, get them ready. Something to look forward to,” said Mayor Brian Bowman on Friday. “I know many of us have been quite anxiously awaiting the return of a beloved Canadian sport. So that’s good news.”
Following amendments to the current Manitoba public health order, the use of outdoor skating rinks is now permissible, and highly-encouraged, by the province’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin. However, maintaining a household free from neighbours and other groups is at the forefront.
“Your home, backyard skating rink, fire pit, garage and driveway are a private residence,” Dr. Roussin said Saturday. “Getting together there is currently limited to people in your household only. Remember that you can still connect with family and friends by phone or virtual means.”
The use of dressing rooms and warming shacks will not be allowed, while ice rinks are now considered to be an essential part of exercise and health. Although maintaining proper distancing may be difficult, it is advised even while skating outdoors. This will also take some time as warmer winter weather may slow the rink preparation.
Organized outdoor sports are still a no-no, while the activities of skating and tobogganing are now officially open. Although playgrounds, athletic fields and skate parks are off limits, Manitobans have been encouraged to stay active through the various transportation trails, dog parks and outdoor rinks throughout many areas of the province.
“We need more snow and colder temperatures in order to construct the rinks and toboggan slides,” said Jay Shaw, assistant chief of Emergency Management. “We’re starting to see some temperatures start to drop, so that’s good, back into seasonal temperatures. It’s anticipated that our rinks, once we get a little bit of snow, we will get everything formed up.”
Many recreation centres throughout the city have begun work on preparing their respective outdoor skating surfaces. Despite the immediate announcement on this new allowance, it will take some time for most rinks to be functional.
“If the temperatures are above zero, you are going to have a problem. We have been hovering in and around that area, but we are going into seasonal temperatures now,” Shaw said. “Give us a week, temperatures are just going to start dropping this weekend and we’re going to do our absolute best to get those rinks open as fast as possible.”
“With the new announcement from the city regarding outdoor ice, we are looking at 7-10 days to get our rinks ready, that is, if the weather cooperates,” tweeted the South Winnipeg Community Centre on Saturday. “This applies to the Waverley, Richmond and Ryerson rinks and the pleasure rink at Richmond.”
Tuxedo Community Centre posted on its social media feed that both of its rinks have undergone their first flood of the season, while the club hopes to have both ice surfaces operational by next weekend.
— Tuxedo_CC (@Tuxedo_CC) December 12, 2020
The City of Winnipeg operates 43 community rinks and six toboggan slides, with each location anticipating opening in due time. “City-maintained pleasure skating rinks will be opened as the weather allows; dates have not currently been set.” the City of Winnipeg Twitter account posted Saturday morning.