Nova Scotia

Outdoor skating comes to Sydney's Open Hearth Park

The Cape Breton Municipality is installing a mechanically-chilled ice surface in Open Hearth Park as part of the Taste of Winter Festival.

Rink will be open for at least a month as feature of Taste of Winter Festival

The temporary rink at Open Hearth Park will open Saturday. (Submitted by Kirk Durning)

Open Hearth Park in Sydney is finally getting an outdoor skating rink.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is installing a 30-metre by 17-metre mechanically-chilled ice surface near the park's canteen and parking lot.

The project is a component of the CBRM recreation department's Taste of Winter Festival.

Skating outdoors

"Through public consultation, we saw that skating was No. 1 on people's minds as to a winter activity that they loved to do," said recreation program co-ordinator Joe Costello.

"Many people either pointedly talk about an outdoor rink in the CBRM, or lament the past of being able to skate on, say, Wentworth Park or Sydney Harbour."

The success of the Emera Oval in Halifax has also spurred interest, Costello said.

Nova Scotia Lands, which manages Open Hearth Park, had plans to include a small kidney bean-shaped natural ice track in the north end of the park when it first opened in 2013.

But after two years of failed attempts to make it work, the idea was scrapped.

Ice good to 8 C

The current rink has the benefit of a mechanical chiller, which should maintain the ice surface in temperatures of up to 8 C.

"It's going to be artificial ice, same as any rink in the area," said David Ferguson, facilities supervisor with the CBRM.

A 50-ton chiller will pump brine through mats that are rolled out under the ice, "which is going to freeze the mats to make the ice happen," he said.

Crews flooded the rink before Monday night's heavy snow. 

The plan is to clear the snow off Wednesday and lay some more ice down in time for the rink's official opening on Saturday.

The rink will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for at least a month.