Crowsnest Pass council has directed staff to work with a group of residents who want to build an outdoor ice rink in the community.
Stacy Kozak, who moved to the Pass roughly a year ago, presented the idea at municipal chambers March 14.
The Pass and surrounding areas are well known for the sudden, massive temperature swings brought by wintertime chinooks. But Kozak and a core planning group of longtime residents believe an outdoor rink could be built to stand up to the region’s highly variable climate.
“We know it’s possible, and maybe the Pass will become more attractive to visitors,” Kozak suggested, adding that Canadian NHLers Wayne Gretzky, who led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cup wins, and Connor McDavid learned to play Canada’s sport on outdoor rinks.
A modestly sized rink could be built for anywhere between $5,000 and $500,000, depending on where a municipality sets its sights, council heard.
Kozak said she’d spoken to people involved with outdoor rink projects in Sparwood and Fernie in British Columbia and in Philipsburg, Montana, just over 550 kilometres south of the Pass. Sparwood’s rink cost about $7,500 to build.
On the more expensive end, Kozak said Philipsburg built a skating path with cooling rods to the tune of around US$500,000.
Kozak suggested that Pass council could make a modest contribution through a grant should the rink take off. Her group hasn’t firmed up a precise location, but Kozak mentioned that Blairmore’s Gazebo Park could work.
The town of Pincher Creek, also prone to Chinooks, has maintained a small outdoor rink at the Castleview Park Skating Area at 613 Thistle St. for a few years now, according to recreation manager Adam Grose.
The Castleview rink was built on a very modest budget and is lovingly maintained by parks director Brock Leavins. The rink opened to the public shortly before Christmas 2022 and has held up reasonably well through mid-March.
In particular, Grose highlighted that the rink is more durable thanks to a reflective tarp laid under the ice, an innovation he credited to Leavins.
Pass council unanimously voted to direct recreation staff to explore outdoor rink options with Kozak.
By Laurie Tritschler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 22, 2023