The Starlight Skating Rink is here to stay.
Around 25 people came out to Harrison’s boat launch parking lot Monday (Dec. 2) to witness the unveiling of the name and cut the ceremonial ribbon for Harrison’s synthetic outdoor rink. The name was suggested by Harrison resident Wendy Baldwin during a contest earlier this year.
Although the name reveal was the most anticipated part of the wet and rainy grand opening, Harrison mayor Leo Facio also took a moment to thank tourism minister Lisa Beare for the resort municipality infrastructure money that funded the skating rink.
“We are one of only 14 communities in British Columbia with access to funding to diversify our tourism infrastructure,” Facio said.
“We had concerns on how our RMI program would continue, and our minister said that she would champion our cause, and this lady has certainly championed our cause,” he continued. “(She has) not just spoke about it, but took action with her staff to continue our RMI program, and we know it’s safe for another three years or so.”
Tourism Harrison director Robert Reyerse — who was joined at the opening by Beare, FVRD chair Jason Lum, Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness and most of Harrison council — also spoke about the positive impact the funds have had on tourism in Harrison.
“It has transformed Harrison over the last 10 years, from the plaza to the Esplanade,” he said. “It’s also allowed us to do some wonderful things, including the festival of lights you see along the Esplanade now.
“Last year alone, it brought in about 30,000 visitors, 25,000 room nights and probably close to a million dollar impact on our community at a time where we’re usually very slow.”
The synthetic rink will be open throughout the winter season until Feb. 29 this year, and Harrison has plans to expand for next year: additional decor and renovating the boat launch building to house a skate rental shop and concession. (The current concession is in a portable container building.)
“As you can see, there is quite a bit of space here in this parking lot,” Facio said. “This rink is just a starting point for us as a winter destination. We see so much potential to grow into this space with more winter outdoor activities and maybe even a new festival.”