Beyond the Headlines

Oval closes - what's next?

Posted: Mar 9, 2012 5:23 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 9, 2012 5:23 PM ET

The oval has now closed for the season.

The news was greeted by a collective groan in our newsroom, and judging from the tweets that followed, the feeling is pretty universal.
 
Tweets.jpg
 
It would have been great to have the Oval open for March break, but the city says fluctuating temperatures is making it impossible to maintain the ice.
 
So, it's time to move on. The question is - move on to what?
 
Even though crews will begin dismantling the site next week, the city says it still hasn't settled on a long term plan to turn the site into a year round facility. It held public consultations last October, and plans to hold more in the "near future". It's also asking residents to fill out an online survey.
 
Some of the choices are inline skating, roller skating, ultimate frisbee, special events, road hockey and nordic walking.
 
On Friday, I asked our twitter followers what they would like to see. So far, a roller skating rink is the overwhelming favourite in this completely unscientific poll.
 
But don't expect to see any of the options ready to go this summer. Pending budget approval the plan is to start work on building permanent structures on the site. 
 
John Henry, the city's manager of community and recreational services, says that means for much of the summer the oval will be a construction site.
 
"At this point, we don't know how much of the oval will be restricted, and closed off from access," says Henry. "Certainly there is going to be a lot of construction going on around the oval, there will be construction equipment, dust.....it won't be the most conducive site".
 
The plan now is to re-open the oval for skating on December 15th, and the city hopes the site will be a year round facility by 2013.
 
In the meantime, that section of the common will be something of an eyesore again this summer.
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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