Downtown Victoria ice rink faces human obstacles

Occupy Victoria’s tent city taking up rink’s space

A long-planned and large Christmas season public skating rink covering the exact Centennial Square spot where the Occupy Victoria tent city sits, is about to test the community spirit of protesters and the downtown business association.

The two sides have met a couple of times to deal with the problem – a temporary 17- by 11-metre ice rink the Downtown Victoria Business Association plans to install Nov. 21.

However, no solution has been found.

Ken Kelly, DVBA general manager, said he expects his organization and the People’s Assembly of Victoria representatives will sort out the situation.

The business association has been planning the ice rink project since mid-August – almost seven weeks before the People’s Assembly held its first organizational meetings.

People’s Assembly supporters live in about 60 tents that were set up at Centennial Square on Oct. 15 after a day-long protest in the square and downtown march by about 1,000 people as part of worldwide protests against corporate and banking industry greed, and economic control.

Saying he personally supports the “spirit” of Occupy Victoria in finding solutions to social and economic ills facing the community, Kelly said: “I would be really very surprised if there is nothing but co-operation between us” in ensuring the rink will be set up.

Most of the protest tents sit on the planned ice rink site on the lower level of the square beside the McPherson Playhouse.

Occupy Victoria media spokesperson Jason Thompson said the group’s general assembly wants “to accommodate the public,” probably by moving the tents on the proposed skating rink spot a few metres.

“We don’t want to impede public use (of Centennial Square),” he said.

Anushka Nagji, another People’s Assembly spokesperson, said the ice rink comes as a shock to her group, who will continue to discuss the issue until a solution is found.

The solution might be as simple as negotiating some useful material concessions from the downtown business community for moving the tent city to the more weather-exposed side of the Centennial Square, she said.

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