Sept. 5 was supposed to be the first day of public skating at the Wesbild Centre in Vernon. My three-year-old was very excited; new skates and the anticipation of the first skate of the year.
It was very disappointing to arrive at the arena at the time listed in the parks and recreation schedule only to find minor hockey players already on the ice, all through the public skating time.
There were other parents and children also waiting and expecting the public skating time to start as scheduled. The public skating time came and went.
The schedule clearly lists that it is effective Sept. 5 and the times for public skating are clearly listed. Yes, I had diligently noted all of the public skate cancellations (and there are many) in my calendar and Sept. 5 was not one of them. And, yes, I am aware that there is a disclaimer in the recreation guide stating that schedule is subject to change without notice.
I guess I just don’t see the point in having a schedule if many of the skates are cancelled and any of the skates can be cancelled at the last minute without notice.
Parks and recreation has a mandate to provide opportunities for the public to participate in leisure activities at public facilities. These spots provided to the public are a service to the community and are not profitable.
The purpose of parks and recreation is to provide accessible, low cost, leisure experiences to those for whom cost is a barrier to participation. There are many families who are able to sign their children up for skating lessons and hockey through the various clubs and programs that exist in Vernon but a big part of parks and recreation’s purpose is to provide affordable opportunities to families who cannot access these programs.
I am not against minor hockey. Our family loves and plays hockey and we hope that some day our daughter will play too. But I’m just not sure how to explain to her how it is that the minor hockey group is on the ice instead of the public skating that had been scheduled.
Are the ice times so booked up that they couldn’t have been accommodated at another time? It concerns me that a group that pays the city for their ice time took precedence over public skating time.
Regardless of the true reason for this skate cancellation, I am writing this letter to remind everyone that it is our city taxes that fund Greater Vernon parks and recreation and it is their responsibility to provide affordable and accessible recreational opportunities to everyone, and most importantly, to those who are least able to access these experiences through clubs and private programs.
The free, outdoor skating offered at the Centennial rink is a spectacular service and it is greatly appreciated. Hopefully, in the future, Wesbild Centre will be better able to stick to its schedule of public skating times or, alternatively, maybe they need to adjust the schedule in such a way that they offer fewer but more reliable times