When the B.C. Hockey League’s best players come to Penticton for a 3-on-3 outdoor all-star game on Jan. 15, a newly constructed outdoor rink will be waiting for them.
As of today though, there is no ice to be skated on.
When the project began in September, Activate Penticton was hoping to have the rink ready for use by December. After a series of shipment delays, however, things haven’t gone according to plan.
“We were supposed to be done now (Dec. 15) but we have just been hit with COVID delays on material so we are adapting to that,” said Drew Barnes, the president of the Activate Penticton Society. “We’re going to make a bunch of special requests and get everything up and running for January.”
The BCHL’s 60th anniversary all-star game is slated to be held at the brand-new venue on 107 Martin Street. Whether the finished product looks the way everyone involved would have liked right away is something that Barnes has definitely thought about.
“It’s not going to look as buttoned-up as we would have liked but we’re going to have it looking pretty good for January,” Barnes said.
Even though the unexpected shipment issues have put a wrench into the project’s timeline, the rink is still on track for a January opening.
Located in downtown Penticton near Gyro Park and behind City Hall, the size of the ice is projected to be roughly 60 per cent of what the dimensions of an NHL rink.
The pending construction of the rink was made official in June, with the entire project costing a minimum of $438,375.
The majority of those funds came from donations raised right here in the community. In two months, the community raised $360,000 towards building the new rink.
Valley First has made a three-year financial commitment of $62,000 to not only make Penticton’s new outdoor ice rink a reality but ensure that skating and equipment can be free for all. An anonymous donor also matched all donations made in October and November.
With a new venue, comes a new spectacle — that’s exactly what Barnes hopes the rink can host on Jan. 15.
“The goal is to have a bunch of food trucks and have a winter and hockey market feel,” he said when asked about the city hosting the league’s historic all-star showdown.
Over the past 60 years, a number of future NHL legends have played in the BCHL’s all-star game including Brett Hull, Paul Kariya and Glenn Anderson.
When the newest batch of BCHL standouts make their way to Penticton in January 2022, a new era is set to begin in the city’s downtown core with the arrival of the new outdoor facility — barring another unforeseen setback.
“It’s a reality that we have had delays, but we are working through it,” Barnes said. “The week before we’ll be flooding (the ice).
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