Pitch for more accessible hockey in Halifax sparks movement
Published Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:39PM AST
One man’s idea to make hockey more accessible by building an outdoor rink on the Halifax common is gaining momentum.
Ryan O'Quinn says the oval is one of the best developments to happen to the city in recent years, but says it could be even better with ice available for hockey players.
“If you ever just wanted to try the game of hockey where would you do it? This is the space where that could really happen,” he says.
O'Quinn says he grew up playing hockey outdoors in Manitoba and he was left confused by the lack of available outdoor ice in Halifax.
He says a space in the middle of the oval is currently under-utilized and converting the area into a hockey rink could be a simple task.
"We already have helmets, we've got the skates, we've got the Zamboni and we've got the space and it's not going to take a lot to do it, it's really not, it's a concrete pad, with some boards and glass."
Excitement started growing after O’Quinn created a Facebook group called ‘Hockey on the Halifax Oval.’ He created the group less than a month ago and nearly 2,000 supporters say they approve of the idea.
"I think it's a great idea, I see people out here playing all the time on the oval with nothing but the ice, so I think having a rink would be really beneficial," says skater, Noah Riego.
O’Quinn says people are excited about the prospect of an outdoor hockey rink for various reasons.
“One of which is hockey is an inaccessible game and we don't like talking about it as Canadians because we're so proud of hockey, but if you're 28-years-old and you've never passed the puck before, how do you start playing hockey?"
O’Quinn also points to studies that say natural outdoor ice is on the decline due to climate change. He says within the next 50 years there will be spots in Canada unable to maintain natural outdoor ice.
O’Quinn says that during the warmer months sports such as lacrosse, ringette, ball hockey and roller derby could be played on the space as well.
"Any number of activities, why not, the grass is like off limits now, why not use it for something,” says Issac Beniot.
O’Quinn says major events could be held on the oval like the QMJHL outdoor classic or the championship match of the annual Play On street hockey tournament.
Not everyone says they’re in favour of the new hockey space, Dawn Binns says there’s still equipment and upgrades needed at the present skating facility.
“Our skaters don’t have full mats around the track, so yesterday there were some falls and they’re not falling into mats,” she says. “If we’re going to spend money to put full netting in the middle to make sure there’s no hockey pucks going, what about the skaters that still aren’t getting what they need.”
O’Quinn says he’s currently developing a business plan while also building public support. He hopes to bring the proposal to city council by the summer.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.