This computer rendered image is what the proposed rink would look like. (Penticton Vees/Twitter)

This computer rendered image is what the proposed rink would look like. (Penticton Vees/Twitter)

Proposal for public outdoor rink in downtown Penticton gaining traction

Outdoor rink, funded by the Penticton Vees, would always remain free to use for the public.

An effort is underway to install an outdoor public skating rink in Penticton, and already many have voiced their support.

Activate Penticton, an initiative spearheaded by Penticton resident Drew Barnes, aims to install an outdoor skating rink near city hall by Dec. 2020.

Barnes says the city has wanted an outdoor rink for a while but hasn’t been able to move forward with it because of cost and safety liabilities.

The land the rink is proposed to be built on is currently a parking lot. Barnes says the goal is to turn parking stalls into a space for active uses in the community.

The rink would be approximately 80 per cent of the size of a standard indoor rink and would always remain free to use for the public.

“I’ve worked all over the place and seen how popular these rinks are in other municipalities and thought Penticton would be a good place to have one, considering how much hockey is part of the community,” said Barnes.

Penticton Vees owner, Graham Fraser has recently committed to funding the project. Both Fraser and Barnes came together to create a group willing to take the operating cost and liability off of the city. Fraser has funded the construction of three other outdoor rinks; two in Ontario and one in New York.

The group behind Activate Penticton went to city council with their proposal on Dec. 17. Barnes said the city’s response was positive and that they expect to be back in council once they have more information on the logistics.

The public’s response to the petition has been very good so far. Activate Penticton has already received over 1,100 signatures since it launched last month. The campaign has also received plenty of support and interest on social media. Barnes says they haven’t had any negative responses from the public yet.

He hopes the rink will become something the community can rally around.

“I think it will provide a place to gather in the winter months, bring some vibrancy to the downtown area, create an active community amenity for all ages, and just bring everyone together,” Barnes said.

In the summer, he would like to see the rink used for other healthy activities such as yoga, farmers markets and ball hockey but says he’s also open to see what other uses the public can come up with.

As of now, the main thing that will need to happen to make the rink a reality is formal approval from the city. Barnes expects his party will be back at council in the spring with a formal request.

People who wish to show their support for the rink can do so here.

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