On Oct. 17, Crystal Lau, vice-president student affairs of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, was allocated $10,000 to oversee the creation of a skating rink in the Bowl for students and the Saskatoon community to use.
As Lau campaigned for her position on the USSU, one of her major goals was to bring a rink to the Bowl. Now, only a few months into the school year, Lau’s campaign promise has come to fruition, as she has received a substantial donation to cover the costs of materials to build the skating facility.
Lau has been working on securing funds for the new facility since the summer. The rink project was tentative until the large donation was received, and while it will cover the majority of the materials, Lau is still looking to secure more donations and partnerships for long-term feasibility.
“The USSU is very excited for this project. It started out as just an idea, but it is not just an idea anymore. It is a plan that will be sustainable not only for this year but for many years to come,” Lau said.
Lau hopes that this rink will improve the well-being of students, as physical activity is outlined in the U of S Wellness Strategy. The responsibility of vice-president student affairs is to enrich the student experience, and Lau believes the rink will achieve this during the winter months. Lau hopes this project will also create a sense of community between those on campus, in the city and from out of town.
“I want more involvement with the city, closing the gap between [the] Saskatoon community and university community and [combining] them to make people feel more welcome to come onto campus and make Saskatoon and [the] U of S more attractive as a winter campus,” Lau said.
The rink will be located by the Peter MacKinnon Building, between the Physics Building and Saskatchewan Hall, the latter of which will serve as the water source for the rink. There will be a team of volunteers, part-time workers, and staff from the Facilities Management Division who will maintain the rink.
The cost of the rink is estimated to be $7,100, and Lau recently received $10,000 from the U of S President’s Office. However, Lau will be working on getting more funding from other sponsors in order to support the rink in the Bowl for future years to come.
Lau explains that, to ensure safety, the rink will be brightly lit by the two lamp posts located beside the buildings. Hockey will also not be permitted on the rink for insurance reasons.
The project is still in the planning stages, so the preliminary cost of materials and labour may change. Lau says that the grand opening of the rink will be in January, at the start of the new term, but students can expect the rink to be ready before then, weather permitting.
Lau’s plan to make this an annual activity will rely on the engagement of sponsors, the City of Saskatoon, and U of S students. Lau believes that the rink will have a positive impression on students so that, in the future, they will voluntarily take up the project.
“I want this to be sustainable, not just the rink, but the idea itself. I [will] reach out to and share this proposal with a lot of partners so that we have a lot of stakeholders for this project,” Lau said. “Even when I am gone, with the detailed proposal that I [will leave behind] and how much involvement we’ll get from other departments, this will happen annually.”
Photo and text: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor