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.