A new opportunity for Virdenites to get out and enjoy the outdoors during the remainder of this COVID-19 winter season will soon be available. All that is needed now is Mother Nature’s cooperation.
Over the past couple of weeks, volunteers have been scraping and flooding around the Virden Farmers’ Market building on Sixth Avenue, creating an ice oval for recreational skating. Local firefighters Ryan Hayden and John Davidson spearheaded the project and worked on the setup with the support of the Wallace District Fire Department, who provided their tanker truck, as well as the Town of Virden, who cleared snow from the area and supplied the water.
Hayden explained that he saw a social media post regarding the Circle Skate Way, which winds through Bradley Park in Moosomin, and envisioned a similar facility in Virden, albeit on a smaller scale.
“It looked like a good idea, so I brought it to the Town and some other people and away it went,” he said. "The main reason for it is that we have the Chevron Community Rink, which we're lucky to have, but it's kind of intimidating for little kids and older people to go and skate around there when you've got pucks around. With this we can give them their rink back."
The availability of power at the chosen location is an added benefit. “We are going to get some lights going so the area is not so dark at night,” Hayden said. “Our long-term goal is maybe to get some activities there as well.”
Hayden stressed that the oval is intended only for recreational skating and that no other on-ice activities, such as sticks and pucks, will be permitted. All COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing, must be observed.
"It's just a joint effort to try to bring some more winter activity," said Town of Virden Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart. She said the Town will be putting up signs and getting the word out via its social media channels when the oval is ready for use, as well as notifying the public of any changes in its operation. The recent spell of above-normal temperatures has delayed the preparatory work.
"It will open when the ice is built up to a point it can be safely skated on," she said.
Hayden is pleased that word is getting out. “More and more people have heard about it so it seems the people are excited and ready to go onto it, which is great.”