By Dylan McAteer
Skaters in Halifax had their last skate on the Emera Oval this weekend.
With warm weather approaching, the ice has become too expensive for the Halifax Regional Municipality to maintain.
The Oval has provided fun for thousands since it opened on Christmas Day. As part of Skate HRM, the Oval had approximately 130,000 skaters and 15 events this season, hosting rookie and veteran skaters alike.
A place to skate and think
“I actually haven’t been skating for too long” said skating patron Jeremy Tugg. “I’ve really only been skating for a year or so.”
The 19-year-old Toronto native is an avid hockey and Maple Leafs fan. The Oval has offered him a place to practise and enjoy the sport that he loves.
The Oval has been operating seven days a week from morning to evening, giving people in HRM ample skating opportunity.
Skating on the Oval proved to be an outlet from winter frustrations for skaters like Tugg.
“I think its just a fun thing to do, I find it to be relaxing and a good way to clear my head when I’m working on an essay,” said Tugg. “Skating helps me get a better perspective on things.”
Skating opportunities at the Oval are wonderful for out-of-town patrons like Tugg. Having readily available ice is a luxury that can be hard to come by outside of the HRM.
“Over reading week I tried to go skating on an outdoor rink in Toronto, but it was completely fenced off,” says Tugg. “I hopped the fence and skated around with my hockey stick and puck for a little while before security asked me to leave.”
The Oval’s future
Given the success of the Oval this season, talks have begun about making it a year-round facility.
“Council has yet to determine how the oval’s programming can be expanded to incorporate the spring and summer seasons,” says HRM Communications representative Michaelyn Thompson. “It’s just a matter of budget, but we hope to have activities like biking and in-line skating.”
Council will determine spring and summer expansion as part of the budget discussion and business planning in April.
The structure of these expansion programs is yet to be determined.
“We’re still in the public discussion phase for the design of the permanent building,” says Thompson. “Design options will go back to the public sometime in April.”
The permanent building will have room for two Zamboni’s, skate storage, washrooms, public lounge space, a small office and a furnace room. The building will replace the trailers and temporary buildings alongside the oval.
“The tender for that work will be issued this summer or fall and we could see construction begin as early as September,” says Thompson.
HRM is hoping that these additions will increase community involvement and promote active lifestyles during the winter months.