Mar 29, 2023
A local group is seeking to expand outdoor winter activities with the installation of an outdoor rink.
A group called Crowsnest Outdoor Rink, Exploring Opportunities recently spoke to the municipal council about the possibility of getting an outdoor rink in the Crowsnest Pass.
Speaking on behalf of the group was Stacy Kozak. She moved to the Pass a little over a year ago and noticed there was a lack of amenities for skating outdoors. She recognized that Crowsnest Lake is nearby, but it is still “a bit of a trek” to get there.
“I grew up playing ringette and hockey and occasionally would enjoy the outdoor rinks in Calgary. I’ve missed having that here,” said Kozak.
She discovered the surrounding communities have outdoor rinks and began to wonder why one didn’t exist in the Crowsnest Pass. After sharing her thoughts on a local Facebook page, she received a lot of interest from members of the community. Kozak said people even shared with her the locations of outdoor rinks that used to be in the area.
“[An outdoor rink] seemed to be something that people wanted. They were supportive, and I think [there was] a pretty large response from the community,” added Kozak.
So far, she has compiled a “long list” of people who are interested and want to help with a number of them working with the municipality on the planning stages of the project.
“That’s one thing I noticed looking at the other communities where these things exist. The grassroots ones aren’t as well utilized. They aren’t as well constructed. They aren’t as well supported, and they don’t last as long because people move on and it’s not something for the community,” said Kozak.
When an individual oversees an outdoor rink, it can easily disappear once they get tired of maintaining it according to Kozak. She is hoping that if they partner with the municipality, they would be able to continue operations for “years and years to come” rather than seeing it be another short-lived project.
“I think most of the Council members were enthusiastic and they have us now going to work with the recreation board and one of the managers to help us to pick the right location. In my mind we have a list of locations that we think would be great. Some of them have even been offered to us by the people who kind of manage those pieces of land for the municipality,” said Kozak, “I’m curious because I don’t really know what the municipality’s vision is.”
She is hopeful they will find the right place and help engage community members.
“I’m optimistic,” said Kozak.
She spent some time talking about the ideal location for the outdoor rink and what this entails. She said the best spot will have plenty of shade, protection from the wind, access to water and is easily accessible.
“The main location that we’ve talked about is in Bellevue... just behind the ice cream shop there. The Bellcrest Community Association has indicated that they would be interested [in having] the arena up there and I think it would be a great fit there,” said Kozak.
She thinks having an outdoor rink is beneficial as it is somewhere you can show up anytime, unlike public skating at the indoor arena. She also recognized the potential for a summer activity to occupy the same space to increase the usefulness of the outdoor rink in the summer months.
For those interested in the group and learning more, they can visit their Facebook page, Crowsnest Outdoor Rink, Exploring Opportunities at facebook.com/groups/1198392847446337.