Downtown Penticton’s new outdoor rink was initially slated to open in December and host the BCHL’s 60th-anniversary all-star game the month after. (Activate Penticton rendering)

Downtown Penticton’s new outdoor rink was initially slated to open in December and host the BCHL’s 60th-anniversary all-star game the month after. (Activate Penticton rendering)

Extreme weather and COVID-19 push opening of Penticton’s outdoor rink again

Activate Penticton says the rink will be ready for free public skating next month

Drew Barnes has been disappointed way too many times over the last several months but that’s not stopping him and his team from making sure Pentictonites get to skate at an outdoor rink this year.

Barnes, the president of Activate Penticton, is the leader of the project that will bring a brand-new outdoor skating rink to the city’s downtown core at 107 Martin Street, south of Gyro Park and northwest of City Hall.

But things haven’t gone as planned. Initially, the rink was slated to have its grand opening in December. Then, it was set for a January start date to coincide with the BCHL’s 60th anniversary all-stars game.

Neither has happened.

“Our goal now is to have it open in the middle of February,” Barnes said.

“We’ve had about three months of supply delays due to COVID-19, the floods and then the snowstorms out East but we’re just pushing ahead and despite all those delays, we’re on target for the middle of February.”

Barnes told the Western News in December that a series of shipment delays have pushed back the rink’s opening day. As of Saturday (Jan. 8), however, all the materials needed to complete the rink have arrived.

The president of the not-for-profit organization admitted his frustration. But he also added that the community’s enthusiasm towards the project has motivated his team to keep pushing forward.

“I think it’s the positive reaction from the community and them looking forward to this,” he said when asked about how he’s coped with the delays. “There will be a day when we can walk down there at night and see the rink full of the public and I think it will all be worth it when that happens. It’s not far off.”

The project was approved in June, with an estimated construction cost of at least $438,375.

Most of the funds were raised locally, with the community chipping in almost $400,000 in just two months, and one anonymous person matching donations. Valley First also made a thee-year funding commitment.

READ MORE: Penticton’s outdoor ice rink close to $400k fundraising goal

The B.C. Hockey League’s 60th-anniversary all-star spectacle was scheduled to take place at the new outdoor venue on Jan. 15. After deliberation between Barnes’ group and the league, the game was postponed until 2023 due to COVID-19 concerns.

In its current state, the rink wouldn’t be suited to host such an event. But according to Barnes, there was a contingency plan he was willing to go if the BCHL’s event had not been postponed.

“We had all sorts of temporary equipment booked,” he explained. “We were actually going to do a temporary chilling system and had some temporary chillers booked that were coming in from Vancouver. An ice specialist was also supposed to come from the Island.”

The postponement of the league’s event, though, has prompted Activate Penticton to focus on a permanent plan with no quick fixes.

Barring any more extreme weather in the Okanagan in the coming weeks, Barnes doesn’t forecast any more delays.

“The town does need some cheer and happiness and we will have people skating this year on that ice,” he added.

READ MORE: BCHL pushes 60th Anniversary in Penticton to 2023


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