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Cold snap brings rare opportunity for outdoor skating on Vancouver Island

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During this unusual cold snap on Vancouver Island, people were not going to let an opportunity slip through their hands.

“It’s so special,” said Derek Wong, a Saanich resident.

Dozens hit Panama Flats in Saanich, no matter the consequences.

“I’m skipping a bit of school for it,” said Ayami Nishi, who was playing hooky for the day.

It was the chance to lace up your skates and hit the outdoor rink. It’s something that people living in the rest of the country may take for granted.

“It’s actually amazing to see everybody out here with their kids and families,” said Linda Lee.

Linda Lee hit the ice with her friend Derek Wong at 9 a.m. sharp.

“The ice hasn’t been this solid in probably over a decade,” said Wong.

You would think all the kids on the ice were skipping school on Monday, but not the ones from Lochside Elementary School.

“Four hundred-plus kids are off school today because a water main burst,” said Matt King, who was at the flats with his three children.

It wasn’t just the Panama Flats seeing all the action during this unusual cold snap.

On Sunday, the Polo Field in Brentwood Bay became the most popular place in town.

“It’s a great view, good ice, you can’t ask for much more,” said a Nanaimo resident.

On Monday, people took to Witchcraft Lake at the base of Mount Benson Trail to act out their outdoor hockey dreams, but not all bodies of water are safe for skating on.

“The larger the body of water, the more unlikely it is that it’s frozen all the way through,” said Chief Chris Aubrey of Langford Fire Rescue.

People visiting Thetis Lake in View Royal saw thin ice warning signs along the shore. That ice is not thick enough to support someone, meaning they would certainly break through, falling into the freezing water below.

Thin ice warning signs at Thetis Lake in View Royal“It only takes a moment to incapacitate you if you happen to end up getting into trouble,” said Aubrey.

That warning is meant for your pets as well.

“Keep your dogs on a leash when they’re near the water because they are not going to know, and they could easily fall through the ice as well,” said the Fire Chief.

Beginning Wednesday, the weather is expected to start to warm, making the ice on Thetis Lake all the more unstable.

For now, people like Linda and Derek are taking advantage of a rare opportunity, knowing that this potentially could be their last outdoor skate of the season.

“We might be able to skate on it tomorrow morning for a bit, but I’m guessing this will be the last of it,” said Wong.

Unless of course, winter weather makes another rare appearance before spring arrives.

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