GE Skating Plaza a big hit with Olympic ready Vancouverites

Post by Daniel Fontaine in ,


GE Plaza photo 2.jpg
GE Plaza was the place to be last Sunday as hundreds of Vancouverites enjoyed this refurbished facility

Last Sunday the whole family decided to head down to the new (updated) GE Plaza down at Robson Square in Vancouver. For those people who’ve lived in Metro Vancouver long enough, you’ll remember the “good old days” when this location was home to Vancouver’s only outdoor skating rink. Over the years, the facility started showing its age and was in serious need of upgrades. It was eventually shut down a number of years ago.

As part of their Olympic legacy commitments, the Province of BC and Olympic sponsor General Electric came to the rescue with a significant investment to purchase a new refrigeration system and upgrade the facility. With the work now complete, GE Plaza opened to the public a few months ago. It’s been an instant hit with the public.

The facility is top notch and has a truly "Canadiana" feel to it. This is something you don’t feel when you live on Canada’s wet, mild and green coast. I’m not a good skater, so I sat on the sidelines and sipped my coffee as the family skated in unison with hundreds of other patrons. On the ice was a mix of young families, teenage couples dates, singles and seniors. It was truly a great sight and the Province and GE deserve full credit for making this a reality.

The skating is free, and for $3 you can rent skates. The venue also has a small cafe (with limited selection) and a bandstand which features local artists. A great sounding band entertained about a hundred of us “non-skaters” who sat on the concrete steps adjacent to the rink. Don’t like to sit on cold steps? Don’t worry, as you can use one of the free yellow cushions to help keep all your body parts toasty warm. They seem to have thought of everything with this refurbished facility.

Overall, I would highly recommend it as one of the top things to do off our popular 2010 Olympics Free Venues list we published last month. If you want to get into the winter Olympic spirit, what better way to do it than skating outdoors on a cool winter day.

According to a media release:

The total cost to upgrade and expand the ice rink was $2 million, of which GE contributed $700,000. GE products and technology have been used in the revitalization of the GE Plaza, including the refrigeration plant electrical distribution system responsible for making the ice and energy-efficient LED lighting products. The revitalization also included a new refrigeration plant, mechanical and electrical equipment, increasing the length of the ice surface by approximately 37 per cent, new rink boards and protective skate mats and new concession and skate rental kiosks.

My only constructive criticism would be related to the street level signage. As the rink is technically underneath Robson Street (at Howe), it is hard to see it if you are walking above and the signage does not clearly indicate that “GE Plaza” is actually a skating facility. Other than that, I give the venue a big thumbs up.

GE Plaza is open from 12 pm - 9 pm and the line up to rent skates was at least 75 people strong before the doors opened. So I would recommend you get there early and enjoy everything this venue has to offer. If you’re interested in taking a look at some cool photos and videos we took of the venue, please click here.


Daniel, a few things:
The Robson Square skating ring was always a hit since I can't even remember. I have the pictures to prove it.

This could stand for yet another public asset gifted to a corporation, with the help of our overindulgent (when it comes to their sponsoring friends) BC Liberal Government. Let's call it rewarding the helpers.

Went there last Saturday. It was packed, true. Could barely skate, more like a penguin dance to me.
I did not bring my skates out of plain stupidity. What I did not expect was the close to 80 (eighty) minutes spent in the waiting line to rent one. Rest of the family did bring theirs!Buggers.

One glass fence and a raised skating podium, a new roof, GE projections on the ice, so?
If the cost for the reno. work was in the 2 $ mil. range with the GE taking the tab for 700,000 why didn't we call it The People of Vancouver British Columbia and ...General Electric Ice Plaza instead?
My point exactly!

With the new parking restrictions in effect, with the Circus coming to town one can expect only visitors from the West End and vicinity in the next couple of months. Beg to differ?

One more thing, the personnel servicing the ice should pay attention to the crowds, when one can start building a small size snowman with the snow accumulated on the ice you bet it's the right time for The Zamboni!

Next, we'll only have to think what to do with the perfectly located and absolutely fabulously looking Vancouver Art Gallery and who to give it to. Of course in a transparent and well intended manner. Like everything else.

@ Higgins. You make some great points regarding the zamboni. After about 1.5 hours of use, the ice was really beaten up and very choppy. They should probably pull out the zamboni every couple of ours...and crank up the band during the "intermission".

I do agree that most of the users during the Games will be visitors and West End residents, but there will still likely be a bit of ice left for those commuting in by SkyTrain.

Your comment on the penguin stuff was funny! Thanks for reading the blog.

I have some great memories there from when I was a tyke, but GE did not "come to the rescue."

GE paid for the ice rink to butter us up a little before they buy our remaining rivers from Campbell and jack up our energy prices.

The following is from wikipedia:

"Plutonic Power and GE Energy are proposing to develop approximately 1000 megawatts of hydroelectric capacity in the Toba and Bute Inlets. The BC Utilities Commission released a finding that these projects and policy were “not in the province’s best interests”, in response to which the government has halted the inquiry."

I believe it will only be called GE Plaza until the end of the Paralympic Games - just as a note to those who have their knickers in a knot over corporate naming.

BTW: Nice to see a post here about something positive!

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