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

Synthetic ice an option for proposed outdoor rink in Vernon

Council to consider 3 options identified by staff regarding a new rink

Three options for a new skating rink are up for city council’s consideration Monday ranging from $250,000 to $1.5 million.

Council had directed staff to investigate options for an outdoor rink at its Jan. 11 meeting with Polson Park named as the preferred location.

A variety of options have been explored and three main ones were identified: a permanent skating rink, a temporary removable skating rink and a synthetic ice skating rink.

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

Originally proposed by Coun. Scott Anderson as a way to revitalize Polson Park and transform it into a winter hub of activity complete with fire pits, entertainment and perhaps food trucks, the rink would attract families from across the Okanagan and beyond.

“Towns and cities across Canada have outdoor community skating rinks and in most cases, offer low-cost ways for citizens to get out, enjoy fresh air and build community,” Anderson wrote in his rationale.

City staff have provided four surface type options to consider that require varying levels of maintenance, infrastructure, setup, siting and considerations.

A recreational stand-alone 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 is listed as an option at the Kin Race Track. This would cost the centre 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, could cost between $105,000 to $470,000 depending on the surface size. Annual costs for maintenance would run between $50,000 and $75,000.

Finally, a synthetic ice surface was examined.

Bringing up the rear with a cost between $250,000 to $300,000, this option requires the least maintenance and can be used year-round.

“That would be an attraction as it is not common in the Okanagan,” the report reads.

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.

Possible sites for a synthetic arena could include Kin Beach Park or any other flat park surface, as the rink requires a flat, level concrete, asphalt or compacted-aggregate surface.

Council will consider the options at the Monday, May 10 meeting.

READ MORE: Family offers reward for information about Peachland man’s suspicious 2018 death

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


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