New restrictions force restraint at outdoor rinks, sledding hills
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They were lucky, McCallum said, to grab a 45-minute time slot in the new online booking system for city-run rinks.
“It was like lining up for concert tickets,” he said. “We knew we wanted to do this for her birthday, so we were waiting at the computer … That’s what it’s going to be like, I think, for the next little while.”
They logged on at exactly 6 p.m. Friday, when the bookings went online, Samantha said, “But the spot we wanted was already gone. We got this spot at 6:02 p.m, and by then everything else was pretty much gone.”
A viral video circulated online last week, shortly before the new city-wide outdoor restrictions were announced, showing the same rink crowded with people: some skating on the ice and others hanging around the popular, brightly-lit rink.
“Last weekend was awful, lots of people everywhere” Maher said. “But this is way safer. I feel way better this weekend than last weekend being out here.”
City staff in yellow jackets checked booking slips for skaters arriving for their assigned times, short and orderly lines formed at a nearby Beavertails stand, and small groups of families dotted the vast, and largely empty Marion Dewar Plaza.
It was nearly the same scene at Carlington Hill, a popular sledding hill where some neighbours have complained of overcrowding on the hills and in surrounding parking lots.
It was a much sparser scene at the hill Saturday that greeted Matt McKay and sons Dylan, 10, and Maxwell, 12, than the one they witnessed last weekend.
“We were at Green’s Creek last weekend and it looked like a Costco parking lot,” McKay said. “You literally couldn’t get a spot. And, when you started to walk into the hill, you had to wear a mask (in the crowds). People were cutting in front of each other, and Bylaw wasn’t around … there was nobody around (enforcing restrictions).
“This is way more space,” McKay said around noon Saturday as his kids revved up for another run. “Makes you feel more comfortable. There’s no COVID concerns at all.”
There were only a handful of cars in the Dulude Arena parking lot, and, while there appeared to be more than 25 people in total, small groups appeared to be maintaining plenty of social distance on the huge sledding hill.
“We’d be going to the pool, otherwise, and that’s closed because of lockdown,” McKay said. “And all the indoor rinks are closed because of lockdown, the outdoor rinks are (restricted). But this is where we’re at.”