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Skating for everyone this Valentine's Day

Morningside-Park-Outdoor-Skating-Rink

Canada's winters can get cold, but they do have their advantages, including ice skating. If you can walk, you can skate, and if you can skate, you can have fun. If you're looking for something to do with a special someone this Valentine's Day, ice skating an excellent way to get closer. Sometimes literally, if you accidentally take a tumble.

The Environmental Student Society (ESS), one of Centennial College's longest-running student clubs, keeps this tradition alive by creating a natural outdoor ice rink in the nearby Morningside Park, a tradition now in its third year. The rink's formal opening will take place February 14, from 11 AM to 4 PM, perfect for a mid-afternoon Valentine's Day activity. It's not just for couples, though, but for the entire community, so your family and friends can come out, too. Lunch, hot chocolate, apple cider, and a fire pit will keep the mood cozy.

If you don't own skates, don't worry. The ESS will be supplying 50 skates of different sizes, and the International office will be loaning 50 more. If you're an international student, and want to see what this skating thing is all about, there will also be a special International Student Skate Day Saturday, February 21, 11 AM to 4 PM. But please remember: the rink is available for use at your own risk, the same way a swimming pool is without a lifeguard. Users must take care and ensure young ones are adequately protected, and helmets are strongly advised for children.

The chief sponsor of this venture is the Morningside Home Depot, giving the ESS $2,000 in support and wood to make the frame and support structures. The Scarborough Princess Auto has donated shovels for the rink, and burners for the hot chocolate, apple cider and warm food. Meanwhile, graduate student Mark Tymecki and Layfield Environmental provided and installed the Geosynthetic liner in the frame. Local city councillor Paul Ainslie endorsed the project and asked City staff to allow college volunteers to access the water and hoses at the park to flood the rink surface as needed.

The ESS, the Centennial College Student Association (CCSAI) and the School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science provided the volunteers to assemble the boards and dutifully come out at night to flood the rink repeatedly – and always during the coldest weather. Their efforts were rewarded with a rink that has been called "one of the best natural ice rinks in the city" by City Rinks, a local advocacy group. Graduate Phil Wolfraim, who used to play on the Centennial College hockey team, has been helping with the rink flooding. He recently skated on the rink and pronounced it "very solid."

So, if you're looking for a good winter activity this coming weekend, consider hitting the ice, though hopefully not literally. For more information on the rink and its creation, have a look at the official website.