Outdoor community skating in the Okanagan shows the upside of sub zero temperatures

Winter has arrived and ponds are freezing over

Area residents are starting to find the upside of a long stretch of sub-zero temperatures.

A number of outdoor skating rinks have finally frozen over, allowing skaters and hockey lovers to get outside and enjoy the bounty of winter life in the Okanagan.

Stuart Park and Peachland’s outdoor rinks have been going for awhile.

And while the Kelowna offering is temperature controlled, those who were on Peachland’s this weekend said conditions had become significantly less soupy in recent days.

That’s not all, of course.

Among the more popular spots to get out and skate is Wood Lake. It had skaters this weekend, who claimed the ice measured at 3 1/2 to four inches, near the dog park on Pelmewash Pkwy.

People are warned to be careful before they embark on non maintained ice.

Temperuatures are ranging between 0 C and – 17 C throughout the week.

BLAIR POND PARK

A sense of community and tradition. That’s what inspires Kelowna’s Scott Graf when it comes to taking care of the ice at Blair Pond Park during the winter.

Scott Graf has been living in the Blair Pond Park area for over seven years. The park’s pond has been a local rallying point during the winter and when it freezes over locals come together to prepare the ice for skating.

“You have to clear the ice from the snow,” said Graf. “When you get that clear black ice (for a few) cold days in a row, with no snow … that’s when you know, it’s perfect.”

As an unofficial caretaker of the pond and a local firefighter, Graf knows a thing or two about the art of perfecting skating ice, as well as being careful and safe with the ice.

“I use a drill to test the depth of the ice, and I won’t go on, or let my kids go on, unless I know it’s safe,” said Graf.

The city has taken steps for safety at the pond, placing signs and warnings that the ice could be unstable, but Graf always takes the necessary precautions to ensure safety.

Though this year’s winter hasn’t had the ideal cold weather the pond would benefit from, Graf knows the community around the park are always happy when the ice is in perfect shape for skating.

“I think to not be able to skate on a pond growing up, you’re missing out,” said Graf.

Graf also thinks skating on a local pond’s ice is something every community should be able to experience.

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