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Last chance to skate on Penticton’s outdoor rink

The rink is closing for the season with Activate Penticton looking ahead to handle hockey challenges
The Penticton outdoor skating rink beside Gyro Park was packed with skaters enjoying the free facility on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

Sunday, March 3 is your last chance to skate the outdoor rink in downtown Penticton.

Activate Penticton Society announced that the rink will be closing for the season effective Sunday, March 3 at 9 p.m.

“Activate wishes to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers for their hundreds of hours of labour maintaining the rink and for continuing to make this dream a reality,” said Matt Hopkins of Activate Penticton. “We want to thank the volunteers who cleared the ice every morning and the Zamboni drivers.”

Activate also thanked the City of Penticton for their support.

The outdoor rink opened this season on Dec. 16, 2023.

The volunteer-run outdoor rink officially opened to the public Feb. 11, 2022 and the free skating facility has been a huge hit every since, drawing thousands to to skate the oval rink.

Hundreds of people in Penticton collectively worked thousands of hours and contributed $800,000 in donations to make the city’s outdoor rink a reality.

The rink hosted the 2023 B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) 60th-anniversary all-star game in 2023, making it the first time all-star games were held outdoors. The rink hosted the All-Star games this January as well.

But the rink hasn’t been without its challenges.

Again this year, Activate Penticton issued a warning they’d shut the facility down if hockey players didn’t get off the ice. The rink is meant to be a low barrier facility for skating only, no hockey.

On Dec. 20, 2023, Activate Penticton issued its “final plea” reiterating that playing hockey at the rink is prohibited and that those who break the rules could force the facility to close.

Unfortunately, hockey continued on the ice into January, with Activate Penticton saying that they have been verbally abused by hockey players using the facility.

READ MORE: No hockey allowed: Future of Penticton outdoor rink in jeopardy

“We will get together as a society soon and figure out how we are going to handle next year,” said Hopkins on Sunday. “We get it. There is such an interest in hockey at this facility but it’s so hard for our tiny volunteer base to operate the rink and keep it safe for hockey.”

Hopkins went onto to say that Drew Barnes was the visionary for this rink and now thousands have been skating and enjoyed the magic of that location.

“It’s an incredible facility that brings joy to people. Seeing all the smiles on people’s faces when they are skating and seeing everyone so happy. We are proud of that,” he added.

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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