No Stuart Park fire-pit in Kelowna this winter

City says in bid to reduce natural gas use, it won’t light fire pit at popular outdoor ice rink

The fire-pit at Kelowna’s popular open-air free public skating rink at Stuart Park downtown will not be lit this year says the city. —Image: Black Press file

Skaters planning to use the popular open-air ice rink in downtown Kelowna’s Stuart Park this winter will have to dress a little warmer than in past seasons.

The city, in an effort to reduce the amount of natural gas it uses, will not light the accompanying fire-pit in this winter.

The decision was made after FortisBC asked members of the public, businesses and municipalities to reduce the amount of gas they use in light of damage to its natural gas pipeline in B.C. earlier this fall. While the damage has been repaired, the maximum gas allowed to flow through the pipeline is just 80 per cent of normal.

RELATED: Stuart Park outdoor rink to reopen for winter

Kelowna’s manager of building services Martin Johansen said the city has reduced its natural gas use in a number of ways in response to the call from FortisBC, including lowering the temperature in public buildings and in city pools by 1 C.

He said it was felt there were higher priorities for natural gas use in the city than the fire-pit lit in Stuart Park lit throughout the winter.

“So, until we hear different, we will leave it off,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city is aiming to open the popular public skating rink open by the start of December, weather permitting. City crews will start making ice for the rink Nov. 23. The work will be done at night.

He said the issue for the rink, which free for the public to use, is most often the sun and surprisingly, not the temperature. The rink can operate in temperatures as warm as 4 C, but if the sun is at too high an angle in the sky, it can create problems keeping the ice surface solid.

When the rink opens, also weather permitting, it will run until late February.

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