Later this month, some many hundreds of the best amateur athletes in Canada will arrive in Halifax for the 2011 Canada Winter Games. In preparation for this, the city of Halifax built a massive outdoor long track speed skating oval, the circumference of which being larger than the length of three football fields.
Since the oval was built on the Commons, the city decided to provide a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for the citizens of Halifax to lace up a pair of skates and skate on an Olympic sized speed skating oval for free.
7 days a week, from... well, at least before Christmas, until just before the Games start on February 11 the city of Halifax has/will open up the oval (with its own Zamboni) to the public. There are even free skating lessons offered daily, and free helmet and skate rentals too.
From my understanding, the city of Halifax had planned to make this a one time affair. However, the response from the citizens of Halifax has been so overwhelming, that various aldermen have supported making the oval a permanent winter fixture on the Commons.
I, for one, couldn't be more in favour of such a move. While I was skating on the oval a few weeks ago, there were at least 300 other people on the ice, not including the 500 other people waiting to get skates, drinking hot chocolate, or simply resting.
Not only would it be a fantastic use of a public space that is otherwise wasted during the winter months, but it's also an obviously effective way of getting citizens to be more active (in a country where this is badly needed). In fact, I'm prepared to make an EP Declaration right now, that this is the best use of public funds by a city, ever!