On Thursday, December 21, the Fernie Outdoor Rink officially opened. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

On Thursday, December 21, the Fernie Outdoor Rink officially opened. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Fernie celebrates new outdoor rink 2 months after fatal ammonia leak

Funded by the Calgary Flames, hundreds of residents took a skate and tested out the ice

Excitement filled the air at the grand opening of the Fernie Outdoor Rink on Thursday, two months after the tragic ammonia leak that killed three men known in the community.

Funded by the Calgary Flames, hundreds of locals gathered together, dressed in their hockey gear, eager to test out the ice.

Before the skating officially started, a few instrumental figures stepped up to the microphone to say a few words.

Chris Moulton of the Leisure Services Advisory Board was the emcee for the evening and addressed the crowd gathered in front of the rink. Moulton, who was born and raised in Fernie, started off by saying how excited he was to see such a cool attraction in his hometown.

“I wish that something like this was available when I was young, because there’s a really good chance I would have never got off it,” he said.

“Thank you to the Flames Foundation, thank you to all the volunteers and local businesses that worked tenaciously to get this project to where it is, where we could actually skate and go under the lights.”

He gave a special thanks to Chuck Shoesmith and the Lions Club for building the foundation for the outdoor rink. He also thanked Tom Hopkins, who spent many hours flooding and preparing the ice.

READ MORE: Fernie receives funding for outdoor skating rink

READ MORE: Three workers identified as victims of Fernie ammonia leak

He added that in order to keep the rink in quality shape, the whole community must work together in the maintenance of it. He encouraged anyone willing to volunteer their time, to visit the City of Fernie Leisure Services website.

Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano thanked everyone for coming out to the grand opening of the outdoor rink.

When this project was started in late November, the goal was to have hockey in Fernie over the holiday season. Giuliano said they knew this was a lofty goal, but also knew that the community would rally together and make it happen.

“On Oct. 17th, we experienced tragedy here in Fernie. We lost three important members of our community, of our family, and we were left heartbroken,” Giuliano said.

“However, seeing so many members of our Fernie community and extended community come together to create something new and special, so as to allow our kids and youth to continue to skate and play hockey this winter, it’s truly remarkable to see.”

Giuliano recognized the Calgary Flames for their generous donation of an outdoor arena package, supplied by Canadian Arena Products, and for their further donation of funds for further costs incurred. She also sent a heartfelt thanks to many of the local businesses and individuals who donated their time.

Chuck Shoesmith said this project was quite easy, thanks to the endless community support.

“The reason being, is that there was nobody that I asked who said no,” he said. “It was just amazing how many people stepped up to help us out.”

Shoesmith said there could be options further down the road which would extend the life of the arena, if the funding was avaliable. One option would be the installation of a roof over the rink. He said this would make the rink more permanent, and cut down on time spent shoveling snow and maintaining the ice.

Fernie Ghostriders head coach Craig Mohr grew up skating on an outdoor rink, and said it’s great to see one in Fernie. He thanked everyone who made this possible. On behalf of his team, Mohr wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and encouraged the crowd to come on down to Sparwood and watch them play this Friday.

Candice Goudie of the Calgary Flames Foundation, was next to address the crowd.

“The work this community did to get this going in time is nothing short of amazing, and you should be very proud of how you’ve come together to do that,” she said.

Goudie said the first goal of the Flames Foundation is, of course, to win, but their second is to improve the lives of people in their community.

“We think that Fernie is a part of Calgary, and we’re just really pleased to be able to be a part of this,” she said.

The outdoor rink opens every day at sunrise, and the lights will be turned off at 10 p.m. The public is invited to skate at the rink, outside of time allocated for youth programs. Scheduled programming is set to begin early January.

Just Posted

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Most Read