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Cardiff skating loop opens

Free outdoor rink could grow if popular, says Hnatiw

Sturgeon County residents can cruise down a cool new frozen highway in Cardiff this week with the opening of the region’s first outdoor skating trail. 

Sturgeon County crews officially opened the Sturgeon Skating Trail in Cardiff Park on Jan. 11. The all-ages trail is an illuminated 375 m long ice surface that undulates through the park’s trees and snow.  

Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said the idea for the trail came out of 2019’s Winter Light Stroll in Cardiff Park, which drew about 100 guests despite -25 C conditions, as well as talks related to county’s open space master plan in 2018. 

“Unfortunately, the pandemic has further driven home the need for us to have outdoor activities close to home for people to be able to get out and enjoy,” Hnatiw said.  

“There’s a real need for us to find ways to maintain physical and mental health and still feel some community pride.” 

Hnatiw said the county’s agricultural service department plowed and flooded this ice loop in late December as a pilot project. It was originally supposed to be open in time for Christmas, but had to be pushed back due to warm weather. Crews decided to put the trail on land instead of on Cardiff Pond itself as the pond is already well-used for ice fishing.  

Hnatiw said the path cost about $10,000 to create, which came out of the ag-service department’s budget. It consists of a snow-edged ice sheet that rolls with the terrain and should serve as an alternative place to skate for those who don’t want to dodge hockey players at community rinks.

“It’s certainly different from skating on a Zambonied ice surface,” said Hnatiw, who gave it a test-skate on Jan. 8.

“It was a lot of fun, and it’s beautiful out there in the evenings as well.”

Cardiff resident Denis Sousa said he and his family had the lane all to themselves when they checked it out on Jan. 10. The loop takes about a minute to complete and features a fire pit as well as many little hills and valleys.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

“I think it’ll be a pretty big hit with the community.”

The Cardiff trail opens a few weeks after a similar skateway opened in St. Albert’s Lions Park. Edmonton also had several skateways in operation in winter 2020/2021. 

Hnatiw said she hoped people would check out the Cardiff skating trail, adding council may bring it back next winter should it prove popular. She asked guests to follow all pandemic safety rules about physical distancing and encouraged them to wear masks. 

The trail is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Cardiff Park is gated) and would stay in operation so long as weather permits, Hnatiw said. Visit www.sturgeoncounty.ca/GetOutside for details.  


Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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