Rink in the Bowl needs a second thought

By in Opinions

The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union intends to go forward with plans to create a free, outdoor, public-access skating rink in the Bowl — warm fuzzies aside, it’s not a great idea.

The rink in the Bowl was a campaign promise from USSU Vice-President Student Affairs Crystal Lau. Here’s what we know so far:

The project has secured $10,000 in funding from the President’s Office. The President’s Fund sponsors unique and creative activities and events with a strong connection to the U of S and a direct impact on students. Applicants are considered bi-monthly, and any student can apply online.

There are two plans being considered for the construction of the rink. The first would be temporary — lasting one season — provided by the campus carpentry department, at a cost of $7,986. The second option is to purchase ready-to-assemble materials that would be reusable, at a one-time cost of $9,500, excluding any incurred damages and regular wear and tear.

The goal of the rink is to promote physical activity and healthy mental practices, while instilling a sense of community among students. The project has also included outreach to promote the rink to the surrounding Saskatoon community. The rink is said to be a community project, employing volunteers to help with maintenance and upkeep.

The Facilities Management Division has agreed to help with maintenance in the event of a snow storm. Lau is also negotiating with Safewalk, Culinary Services, the Language Centre and the College of Kinesiology for support in the various working parts of the rink’s operation, like skate rentals and hot chocolate services.

The outdoor rink will be situated at the top of the Bowl, nearest to the Peter MacKinnon building. Hockey will unfortunately not be allowed.

And if something goes wrong? The USSU has $10 million in commercial general liability insurance, and university insurance will also extend to the outdoor rink area. Additional expenditures will be covered by the $2,500 USSU Executive Project Budget and what’s left over from the contribution from the President’s Fund after the rink is built.

It’s an impressive project, and Lau has been ingenuitive and determined in     fulfilling her campaign promise — but we would likely have forgotten about this promise pretty quickly if she’d never brought it up again.

Ultimately, the success of this initiative is a gamble. Should the U of S and the USSU be allocating these kinds of funds and resources to a feel-good project with a lot of room for error? There are a few things to consider before jumping on the rink-in-the-Bowl bandwagon.

First, the obvious — there are a lot of things that could go horribly, horribly wrong. Injuries, theft, property damage — and I’m sure someone is going to find a way to have sex on the ice. People are gross and stupid, and by putting the responsibility for the facility in the hands of the public, this project will invite a hurricane of human disaster.

Second, it’s worth considering that perhaps the rink will be exclusionary for people who are interested in physical activity and healthy mental practices but who can’t use the ice. For many, skating is really not that accessible, and the focus should be on activities that are inclusive to all ranges of abilities.

And if skating is your favourite activity, and you’re great at it? Good — there’s actually already a lot of public, free-of-cost skating spots around the City of Saskatoon. Check the elementary school closest to your house or the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink next to the Delta Bessborough, which offers an excellent view of the South Saskatchewan River.

We just don’t need an outdoor skating rink on campus, and there are far better allocations for the time, money and energy required to implement one.

The City of Saskatoon offers an online, interactive map with over 50 outdoor rink locations, many of them close to campus, at www.saskatoon.ca/parks-recreation-attractions/recreational-facilities-sportsfields/skating-rinks.

Emily Migchels / Opinions Editor

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor

  • Heath Dionne

    I think it will fail for a fairly simple reason: Not a lot of people will use it. Sure, the idea of a free, accessible rink in the middle of campus sounds like it should attract a lot of students, but I don’t think it will. Personally, I haven’t owned a pair of skates since I was 16, and I know many people who don’t own any either. As well, many of the people to whom it would be most accessible, those living in campus residence, likely didn’t bring skates with them to Saskatoon and don’t live close enough to travel home regularly and thus won’t be likely to get skates, if they even have any. And how many people would carry a pair of skates around with them all day just to use it? I know wouldn’t. Skate rentals are a good idea, but I don’t like skating enough to pay for the privilege of using a pair of skates a hundred other feet have been in. And I’m pretty broke, so even it only cost $5, that’s money I could spend on coffee or gas.

    • Justin P

      I hear Saskatchewan is kind of a winter province? I bet some of your classmates have skates.

    • Heath Dionne

      I’m sure some do, but I bet a lot of the residence students don’t have any with them and the students who live in town and have skates won’t want to carry them around all day

    • Justin P

      Maybe they will consider bringing them back with them after the holidays? The obstacles to using this rink don’t exactly seem insurmountable.

  • Jayden Jezowski

    Accessibility can be increased if the use of sledges are permitted. If some sledges are provided it could even promote sports for people with reduced mobility.

  • Adam

    This article sounds like it was written by someone who can’t skate and hates the idea of others have fun without them. Most of the negatives to the project discussed in the article don’t really seem to have any basis to me.
    “and I’m sure someone is going to find a way to have sex on the ice. People are gross and stupid”
    Are you kidding me? What’s that have to do with the rink? Saying something like that only serves to weaken your argument tremendously.

    I have been at U of S for years, and I’m pretty sure I remember there being a temporary ice rink in the same spot in years past. I don’t recall it ever causing any problems. Was it ever researched whether previous rinks or rinks at other universities caused problems?

  • Nicole

    “and I’m sure someone is going to find a way to have sex on the ice. People are gross and stupid”

    What an incredibly bizarre/asinine argument.

  • Dan

    So, if hockey is not being allowed on the rink, why does it require boards? It would greatly reduce the cost to just install benches around the rink where people could put on their skates and lounge around the rink., while sipping on their hot chocolate.

  • SheafHater2000

    Perhaps to save costs for the rink the University should consider removing funding for the sheaf. At least some people will benefit from a rink, whether they choose to use the facility for intercourse or not. The sheaf…well…makes for colorful toilet paper.

    • Realo Stonge

      This was my first thought as soon as I started reading, and honestly there are thousands of better uses for the resources that get poured into the Sheaf every year. The only place I ever see the Sheaf is on the ground.

  • wolf

    I’m sure half of the people foaming at the mouth in the comment section don’t even own skates. Honestly, there are way better uses for this money. This plan, if implemented, will definitely be a piss poor attempt at community induced by a lack of identity on one of the worst rated Universities in Canada. You want to get real, lets get real here, kids. We are not fixing any lack of community with this rink, and anyone that wants to be active isn’t going to magically take up skating a few times a week for their health. Since we are wasting money in an attempt to ratify our socially retarded identities as U of S students, we might as well just take the 10,000 dollars and buy some piñatas that people can take turns hitting. At least that option has candy involved. Get a grip, honestly.

  • Shiney Choudhary

    Umm.. even if someone does have sex on the ice… why do you have call it gross? I dont think thats very nice, especially considering how much resources go into developing a sex-positive environment. Please reconsider that statement.

    I like reading the Sheaf.. and I know this is not usually the case with the language. Hope you understand that I don’t mean to insult anyone, just want you to reflect on what you wrote. Thank you.

    • Guest

      Delete your account.

    • Judie Buell

      It actually says “People are gross and stupid, ” after the comment people may have sex on the ice, not that sex on the ice is gross.

    • Shiney Choudhary

      I agree. But it does imply it by saying it right after the sentence about sex on the ice.

    • Shiney Choudhary

      Do you enjoy being a bully? Please go away. No one asked for your opinion about my account

    • Guest

      It was just friendly advice. It’s what I would have done had I left such a mind-numbing comment. Take it or leave it.