(Pixabay) [Harrison Hot Springs outdoor rink synthetic ice skating ice skates]

LETTER: Harrison’s rink safety should come first

Resident Ed Wood writes about safety concerns he feels needs to be addressed with the new rink

If we want the Resort Municipality of Harrison Hot Spring to be known for a fun day at the rink, health and safety must come first.

Having been the operations manager for one of BC’s largest private rink businesses — Planet Ice — and other municipal ice arenas, I feel compelled to comment on the new rink operations here in Harrison Hot Springs.

The village has a request for proposal for outdoor rink operations and concession which concerns me greatly. The first priority of any public facility should be for the health and safety of the public. This does not appear to have been addressed in the proposal. Risk management is one of the first considerations that should be made.

RELATED: Harrison to buy $130K skate rink for this winter

Outdoor skating rinks are a popular fixture in most municipalities. However, the presence of outdoor skating rinks can lead to an increase in liability if they are not properly designed and maintained. The village has a duty, as an occupier, to keep the property in a safe condition to accommodate its intended purpose.

The proposal requires the rink operator to clear the rink surface of debris (sand, snow, ice, water, leaves, etc.) daily. Any skater gliding across the surface when hitting any debris can be dangerous.

We all know that the sand during our winter season blows so hard the village puts up fencing to reduce the effects of the blowing sand. Sand on a rink will not only immediately dull the skate — it has the ability to stop the skater in their shoes.

Will the sand tear apart the rink surface? Time will tell. How one removes weather-related ice from an artificial rink surface is yet to be known.

The proposal has specific time frames for being open. My question is when it is closed, how is the public restricted from using the rink before it has been cleaned and checked for the day. Is there a fence?

RELATED: Contest underway to name Harrison’s new skating rink

Missing in the proposal: rink patrols. All of the public skating rinks use rink patrols to control number of people, speed, hockey, helmets, buggies, and prevent access to rink without skates or with food and drinks

What happens when there is an injury. Is there first aid?

Other miscellaneous concerns include who is maintaining the surrounding bleachers and actual rink panels for separation or changes in height, grounds, washroom cleaning, vandalism, snow clearing, garbage and utility costs.

The public expects the rink to be safe, and the village has an obligation to do so. I would urge the village to not open the rink to the public until the above health and safety issues are addressed. Let’s hope the village doesn’t a put a sign saying use at your own risk; those days are over.

– Ed Wood, Harrison Hot Springs


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