Skating freezeway unveiled at Victoria Park
'This is just the start of something,' says designer
Edmontonians looking to skate other than in circles will have reason to rejoice on Tuesday as the city's first freezeway is unveiled in Victoria Park.
The freezeway is a 400-metre, lit-up skating path in the shape of a figure-eight accessible from the Victoria Park oval.
The new skating route is the brainchild of landscape architect Matt Gibbs, a former Edmontonian.
Gibbs first came up with the idea of an Edmonton freezeway three years ago as part of his master's thesis at the University of British Columbia, where, surrounded by green and rain, he couldn't get winter off his brain.
"For me, I was just surprised at how much I miss the white Christmases and the changing of the seasons," he said Tuesday.
"I really moved away wondering why the city didn't do more to embrace the very distinctive climate that we have here, and really rally around that we're a city of hearty winter warriors."
Gibbs's original proposal called for the creation of an 11-kilometre freezeway that would make use of the existing LRT and green corridors around Edmonton's downtown.
"That was a very grand vision for what the city could look like for future generations," he said Tuesday.
But first, the smaller Victoria freezeway will be a great way for the city to test demand for a skating trail, Gibbs said. It will also provide some needed real-world data on the types of costs associated with maintaining such a pathway.
Crews at Victoria Park estimate maintaining the new trail only adds about an hour of work per day, he said.
The city already plans to double the size of the freezeway for next winter, Gibbs said. If Edmontonians really take to the idea, he said it might not be long before his larger urban freezeway dream becomes a reality.
"This is just the start of something."