**Update – Barn opening is delayed due to warmer temps preventing ice making. We hope to be open by Monday, Jan 9**
Though the old Barn is near the end of its life, City of Selkirk employees are happy to still be able to offer ice time starting early in January to accommodate users with a few changes to the usual operations.
The operating hours will be reduced from seven days a week to five and the ice will be created naturally, not artificially.
Travis Vandenbrand, Manager of Parks and Recreation Facilities for the city, said there’s been a significantly reduced demand for ice at the old arena in recent years, but opening the facility does offer some additional ice time locally.
“Over the last few years, the old arena has only been booking just under 40% of the available ice. As a result, we will be reducing the available ice from 80 hours to 40 hours per week,” Vandenbrand said.
“This will accommodate the users while managing the escalating operating costs.”
Vandenbrand says the new hours will be Wednesday to Friday from 4pm to midnight and Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 2-9. The facility will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
The aging facility is approaching its end of life and the ice plant would have required major costly repairs to be used this winter. The city made the fiscally responsible decision to install natural ice rather than invest in repairs in a rink that will not be operational at some point in the near future.
“The city will be installing natural ice in the old arena instead of performing the ice plant repairs required for the artificial ice surface,” Vandenbrand said.
“As a result, the old arena’s ice season will be condensed with the anticipated opening date being Jan. 4. Once the external temperatures have dropped, the facility should be able to support natural ice until early March, dependent on the weather.”
Regular users of the old arena will be assigned scheduled ice times and casual users will be able to purchase slots if there are any available. With the reduced hours, regular users may be assigned different times than in previous years and they will be contacted by the Culture, Recreation and Green Transportation (CRGT) department before January.
Public skating will be available at the old arena. Times will be announced as soon as bookings have been determined.
A feasibility study on the old arena and future recreation opportunities is underway but had been paused due to COVID impacts on the department. The study will resume in 2023. Part of that review will be looking at the availability of rental ice in the region and the downward trend in ice demand and evaluating what would be the best investment of limited recreation funding.
“We understand that the old arena may be approaching its end of life and we are very excited at the potential for new recreation facilities in the future, in which the community will be asked for input” Vandenbrand said.