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Skating the winter away

Sherry Mulley MacDonald
Sherry Mulley MacDonald

It is mid-January and folks all over the island are doing their best to keep active during the colder months of the year.

The Emera Centre Northside is a beehive of activity these days. Between hockey games, hockey tournaments, walkers and skaters, the facility is being well used. Twice a week, every week, adults from all over the Northside and surrounding area take to the ice to enjoy a relaxing a skate.

Lloyd George has been skating at the Emera Centre since it opened in 2011. He said he travels from Westmount twice a week because he likes the ice surface at the arena. He said he also enjoys seeing the friends he has made since he started skating there. “I have always been a skater, it is good exercise and it gets me out of the house. I have met some really great people since I started coming to the Northside, and it is nice to meet up and have a chat with them.”

According to George, it is not only the friendliness of the people that keeps him coming back, it is the facility as well. “I have been really impressed with the Emera Centre since it first opened. People have the chance to come out and have a walk or a skate in a building that is warmer than some of the other facilities in the CBRM. They keep it well maintained.”

The crowd for the adult skating program is noticeably down this year. Nobody really knows why. Skaters say that at one time it was nothing to see 40 or 50 people on the ice, but these days they say they are lucky to get up to 15 or 20. “It is good in some ways that the crowds are down a little because it gives you more room on the ice, but I like to see a good crowd because then you know people are getting out,” noted George.

The adult skate program welcomes people of varying ages including those in their twenties through to those in their seventies. One of the eldest skaters attending each week is 79-year-old Dave Unsworth.

“I have been really impressed with the Emera Centre since it first opened." — Lloyd George

Unsworth has been an avid skater for most of his life. He said one of his favourite things to do as a child growing up in Florence was to skate on the pond with his buddies from the neighbourhood. “It was a great time, there used to be a huge crew of us skating back then. It was the thing to do in the winter, we would spend hours a day on the pond.”

Helmets are not mandatory at the Emera Centre, but as a senior skater, Unsworth said he likes to be extra cautious. He never ventures on to the ice without wearing his. “I would rather not take any chances when it comes to having a fall so I wear my helmet. It is easy to slip it on and it gives me a little more confidence knowing that if I do fall on the ice at least my head it is protected.”

The adult skate program is offered at the Emera Centre Northside every Tuesday and Thursday. Skating begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 2:30 pm. Despite the fact that the facility is temperature-controlled it is advisable to dress appropriately. A heavy sweater or jacket and gloves is recommended.

Skaters of all skill levels are welcome. Given that the number of people taking to the ice is down from years prior, it is a great time for adults who have never skated before to come out and give it a try.

Sherry Mulley MacDonald is an author and freelance journalist. She is a lifelong resident of the Northside with a fondness for the community in which she lives.

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