Nova Scotia

Winter arrives for oval opening

Snow fell on the noon-hour opening of the new skating oval in Halifax.
Skaters flocked to the new oval Friday. (CBC)
Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly said he took pride that the oval opened on time and on budget. (CBC)

Snow fell on the noon-hour opening of the new skating oval in Halifax.

The Emera Oval, as it's officially called, opened to the public after speeches from officials.

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly seemed as excited as many of the people who gathered Friday for the season's first skate.

"I think it's great," he told CBC News. "People look eager to get on the ice, and I'm looking forward to it as well."

Kelly added, "staff made sure it's on budget and on time, which is very important in this day in age."

Canadian speed skater Andrew Godbout, originally from Dartmouth, N.S., came to opening day to try out the ice.

"This is outrageous, to have something like this in the city," Godbout said. "There's so few cities in Canada that have facilities at all, and to put this right in the centre of the city, is unbelievable."

"I think it'll draw families and people and professionals alike to the city, and it'll pay back many times over," he said.

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It looked like a green start to the skating season, but heavy snow began to fall Friday morning.

The oval is the largest artificial ice surface east of Québec. The HRM spent about $4.3 million to build it this year after the temporary oval for the Canada Winter Games proved so popular with residents.

The refrigerator units can keep the surface frozen at up to 10 degrees.

There was some controversy over the naming of the oval. Beer company Molson Coors promised $400,000 to name an adjoining plaza. That offer was first rejected at an in-camera meeting of regional council, then adopted in a second vote. Emera offered $500,000 to name the actual skating oval.