Skaters’ success shows local limits

Our hats are off to the remarkable talent and outstanding effort on display at this weekend’s Canadian figure skating championships in Victoria.

Our hats are off to the remarkable talent and outstanding effort on display at this weekend’s Canadian figure skating championships in Victoria.

The skaters and volunteers who make the event happen deserve kudos. Ironically, the very success of bringing the event here serves to highlight a serious shortcoming in Greater Victoria.

The region is hosting an event that will undoubtedly inspire young people to try and live out their own dreams of skating at the highest level. However, on a practical level, the region is failing miserably when it comes to providing enough ice time to meet the demand.

“A lot of kids out there want that challenge, they want that motivator to be the best that they can be,” said Deena Beacom, director of the Racquet Club, home to Victoria’s figure skating club. She has publicly lamented the stress that unfairly burdens local skaters who are struggling to find appropriate ice times.

With a growing population of more than 330,000, Greater Victoria is woefully under served by municipal ice rinks — and still will be after a single sheet of ice comes online in Langford’s City Centre Park later this year.

It’s simple economics to think that if demand is there, the supply should follow.

But while it’s easy to suggest a private interest should invest in a commercial rink, as has been done in many other Canadian communities, there’s little the general public can do to make this happen.

Another answer might lie in a survey of parks and recreation services currently being done by the region’s largest municipality. Saanich is asking residents to suggest how they want to see taxpayer money spent as the municipality develops a master plan for the future.

This could be a perfect chance for Saanich to show leadership in the region and either work to facilitate a private development — such as the multi-rink centres popular on the Lower Mainland. It comes down to ensuring opportunity — the product of which is on display this weekend for all of us to take pride in.