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October 27, 2017 9:08 pm

‘Thaw’ On Funds Needed To Solidify Ice Oval’s Future

Monday, September 19, 2016 @ 6:00 AM

Refrigeration next step for outdoor ice oval photo OIO Facebook page

Refrigeration next step for outdoor ice oval                              photo OIO Facebook page

Prince George, BC –  It has been years since the Outdoor Ice Oval Society first broached the subject of a refrigerated ice surface with City Council…

A funding request at that time was denied.  Armed with a much-higher capital cost estimate, OIO Society President Kathy Lewis will appear at tonight’s meeting to request Council consider placing the unfunded project in the 2018 capital plan – subject to fundraising and potential contributions from other sources.

The man who was instrumental in starting the outdoor oval has called on supporters to pack the gallery of Council Chambers tonight.  Dick Vonuegen is urging city residents to come early to the 6pm meeting and purchase ‘Chill the Oval’ buttons for $5, as part of the effort to come up with the estimated $3.7-million dollars to upgrade the oval to a refrigerated system.

Part of the upgrade would include a permanent concrete surface that would transform the oval into a 12-month recreational facility, used by in-line skaters, roller-skiers, and bikers.  The reliability of the refrigerated surface in the winter months would also put the Prince George Blizzard Speed Skating Club in the running to host provincial and national meets.  Just last season, the Club lost the chance to host the BC Long Track Championships after the BC Speed Skating Association reversed an earlier decision and moved the event to Fort St. John over concerns about the natural ice.

In the OIO’s annual operating report presented to Council last week, Kathy Lewis noted 2015-16 was the oval’s shortest season ever – approximately 10-weeks, with 55 days open for skating.  While the on-site counter registered more than 8000 visitors, overall attendance was down due to the shorter number of days open compared to previous years.


Table shows attendance numbers by year               courtesy OIO Society

In a briefing note for tonight’s meeting, Lewis credited significant infrastructure improvements – the equipment storage & service building and the Canfor House warming hut & change facility (both legacies of the 2015 Canada Winter Games) – with having “profound positive impacts on the oval and its use.”

“However, use of this facility is seriously and negatively impacted by weather-related in-season closures, and reduction in season length.”  Lewis continued, “These closures could be reduced or eliminated, and a longer season could be obtained through refrigeration.”  She said refrigeration is the Society’s single most-important priority moving forward.







Use the funds supposedly left over from the Winter Games

    winter games gave all their excess??? cash away to his favorite group, which I bet he is involved with, but they still have a few bills to pay first it seems…or so the claims are.

Hmmm… they have been down to about 50 days open and operational in the last three (3) years. While no data was collected in 2015, because of the Canada Winter Games, we do know this; “Unseasonably warm weather has forced organizers to move the long-track speed skating events at the Canada Winter Games from Prince George to Fort St. John, B.C.”


In the 1970s – 80s, that Ice Oval would have been open at least twice the number of days. Times and climate they are a changing! Eventually, there will be no choice but to refrigerate its surface, either that or shut it down completely, IMO.

Seems to be a pretty expensive endeavor for approx. 100 people per day to be able to skate outside. My guess is that most of these skaters are repeaters. In other words its the same people over and over, who are getting counted.

Much like the bikers. We have all this hoopla about bikers and bike lanes, but in fact are hard pressed to find any bikers around town on a regular basis.

    it find them all the time, on the sidewalks when they have large marked lanes.

$3.7-million dollars for 150 user….
yup I am sure that will sound reasonable to our fair city council. might even let them sell alcohol too…

Bikers, inline roller skaters, roller skiers. That should prove a great mix.
Remember the big blow up when a couple of kids went on the oval with their hockey sticks and a long blade skater lost his cool. That spelled the end of the hockey rink on the interior of the oval which by the way had far more participants than the oval.

I really hope this is an easy NO for council. We can’t afford the infrastructure we already have let alone add more. It would be refreshing if sporting groups (all of them) would start to foot their own bill so we could stop being taxed so much for someone else’s hobby.

Good luck to the Ice Oval Society. I truly hope you can find the funding for this project. What a perfect addition to our winter city.

Where can I purchase one of the Chill the Oval buttons if I can’t make it to the meeting tonight?

I also say good luck to the Oval Society. Why is it that people always have such a negative attitude . We are a winter city. I do not skate, ski, or play hockey. I go to the CN Centre to watch the Cougars but do not watch the Spruce Kings. I don,t have to participate in order to support . I suspect the ones that are against this do not volunteer and only expect things to fall in their hands with only their interests. Canmore Alberta was just a coal town and laid back. The Olympics came to Alberta and wow they are #1 in speed skating and they come from all over the world for training. Wake up PG and support the hard working volunteers on this project.

I understand they gave the money to the City before they dissolved the board. The City can now use some or part of this for the oval, hopefully

Start the fundraising. This is a great project with some infustructure in place. Many small towns have had pools and rinks built through community fund raising.
To bad we didn’t vote Liberal(sarcasm). We would definitely get some money. Zoolander and crew spent 8 billion over the summer, hell, they even funded a gazebo in a eastern riding. I’m sure they would send some here. What is it with our federal governments and gazebos? This riding pork barreling by both parties must end.

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