Opinion Column

Experience Ottawa's no-fun rink

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

You’d think a rink on Parliament Hill would be a given.


In a nation that embraces many of its stereotypes – that we’re polite and say sorry too much, tack on “eh” to the end of our sentences (or hey, if you’re Albertan), love Tim Hortons and maple syrup and naturally, hockey – a rink on the hill just seems fitting. What says “Canada” more than a good game of shinny or an evening skate in our nation’s capital right across the street from the Prime Minister’s office?

In theory, it sounds like a great idea and certainly one I’d be okay with tax dollars going towards.

Until I realized there’s a $5.6-million price tag attached.

And that Prime Minister Justin “fun” Trudeau has apparently drawn the line of what’s allowed to be fun at crazy socks and selfies.

In order to skate on the rink you have to apply for tickets 48 hours in advance, and when you finally get there, you better lace up your skates quick because you’ll only have 40 minutes on it.

Cell phones are banned, so you won’t have to worry about spending your precious 40 minutes on Instagramming the experience and coming up with hashtags to tweet about it.

Don’t think about bringing hockey sticks and pucks, either. Forget about mini sticks for the young, aspiring player. Hockey isn’t allowed. Games aren’t allowed.

So things are fair, figure skating isn’t allowed either, so presumably, that includes ice dancing, so don’t channel your inner Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir while you’re on there with your significant other. No Cha-chaing real smooth, no waltzing, no hip hop to Vanilla Ice on ice, baby.

Racing also, is out of the question, so don’t think you’ve found a loophole, there, speed skaters. Pretty sure this is a way to keep kids off the ice surface as well, because let’s be real – good luck from keeping them from racing each other.

Don’t you dare bring Timmies. No staying warm with your favourite drink or a timbit or two as food isn’t allowed. While not the most ludicrous of all the rules, it just seems so counter to what a rink on Parliament Hill should symbolize and be about.

The real kicker here, though, is that not far from the Parliament buildings is the Rideau Canal Skateway – the World’s largest and second-longest skating rink. You don’t need tickets. It’s open as long as the ice is conducive to skating. It’s also open 24 hours a day. Vendors, including Beaver Tails, sell snacks and beverages along the canal from kiosks, so you don’t even have to take off your skates.

The only thing not allowed at the Rideau Canal, compared to the rink on Parliament Hill, is hockey sticks and pucks, so why not give people a reason to go visit Parliament Hill instead of the Rideau Canal?

Remember, too, that for people in Ottawa, there’s also another (larger) artificial ice surface at city hall.

Sure, they extended the opening period from the original 26 days until the end of February, but why are taxpayers paying for public servants to set up boards on a rink where hockey and racing won’t be allowed?

Meanwhile, Central Alberta is actually short on ice time. Per capita, the City of Lacombe is actually ahead of the City of Red Deer in terms of indoor rinks accessible by the general public. Still ice time is at a premium. Pond hockey teams in Red Deer are now being sent out to Alix, Alta. – 40 minutes away – for an hour long game. Most families, including my own, can’t justify that trip for such a short period of time at that level.

Minor teams in Blackfalds are fighting for ice time in Clive, Alta. and other communities just for practices. That’s an issue that spurred the creation of the Dual Ice Development Society (D.I.D.S.) in Blackfalds. They’re working to enclose their existing outdoor rink and have been asked by council to come up with $2 million on their own to do so.

I can’t help but think of how beneficial the $5 million being used for a no-fun rink for no-fun dads and no-fun Prime Ministers and his band of no-fun Ministers and MPs could be for an actual rink that would alleviate capacity problems locally, and in other communities across the country that are faced with the same issues.

I really want to be in favour of something like this, but if fun isn’t allowed on it, then it’s a project that should be put on ice itself indefinitely.


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