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RMOW looks to lease seasonal ice rink

Temporary rink would test-drive skating needs on Lot 1/9 site

While the Celebration Plaza’s iconic roof has been dropped for now — since the municipality has not yet found funding for the almost $20 million project — ice-skating facilities are still in the works, said Martin Pardoe, manager of parks planning with the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Current plans suggest the skating rink will be seasonal, operating from approximately Dec. 1 to March 31 each year.

To test drive the idea, the municipality is considering leasing a temporary ice system for two years.

“That would allow us to test the need for a roof structure, and it can also test what our operation costs are and gauge the resort community’s desire to use such a facility,” said Pardoe.

“We may choose to extend the lease or we may choose to build a permanent, in ground, ice system such that it has no set up and take down costs associated with it.

“The problem with that is what to do with a large concrete surface area in the summer time.”

The portable system would be installed on Celebration Plaza’s lawn during the winter and then rolled-off in the summer. The municipality would lay a bed of sand on the lawn and then add a layer of insulation to reduce the amount of permafrost going into the ground. A second layer of sand would separate the insulation layer from a rollout mating system, where the ice would be built.

According to Pardoe, it would take about a week from the start of set up to when the ice would be ready for skating.

Three different companies in North America, and several in Europe, supply portable ice systems, and this type of ice has been used in world hockey championships, European figure skating championships, outdoor NHL games and other high level events.

Pardoe said the exact cost per year to lease such a facility is not yet known.

Also, the municipality has received expressions of interest from nine countries for the Neighbourhood of Nations, including Germany, Austria and Norway.

Staff is exploring costs to relocate the Neighbourhood of Nations from the Fitzsimmons Creek greenway to Lot 1/9 after the 2010 Games. The Neighbourhood would be a village of houses built by different countries to showcase their cultures during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.