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‘We need action now’: Community rallies to save Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink from closure

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It’s the ice rink where thousands of recreational and elite skaters have flocked to for over 51 years to enjoy public sessions, birthday parties, figure skating and school sport.

But now, Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink in Sydney’s south west is at risk of being permanently closed by the New South Wales government.

According to a press release by the Board at Canterbury, the venue was forced to close without notice in late August this year after structural roof concerns required immediate investigation.

The Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink is at risk of permanent closure.

Since then, the Board have engaged engineers to assess remediation works on the roof, and have applied to the NSW Government’s WestInvest Program to upgrade the facility by the end of next year.

“The Board is exploring every avenue to source the financing required for the roof repairs in an effort to reopen this iconic Sydney winter sport facility,” the Chairman of The Ice Skating Club of NSW Co-operative (ISCNSW), Malcolm Ellis, said in a statement.

For now though, this unplanned indefinite closure has seen about 2,000 learn-to-skate students stop lessons, and members of the Sydney Figure Skating Club, Canterbury Ice Hockey Club and Sydney Arrows Ice Racing Club have either had to seek refuge at neighbouring venues or stop their sports altogether.

The ice rink has been closed since August. Photo: Marta Icehockey / Facebook.

All up, more than 120,000 skaters hit the ice at Canterbury every year, and that includes about 3,163 permanent skaters that are now left without a venue.

In response, these skaters, along with members of the local community and politicians, held a rally on Saturday, October 8 at the Ice Rink to call on the NSW Government to provide urgent funding to repair the roof.

At the rally, people were chanting and holding placards such as ‘Save Canterbury Ice Rink’ and ‘We miss our rink. We miss ice hockey.’

There were also a number of politicians in attendance, including the Parliamentary Secretary for Western Sydney, Shayne Mallard; Member for Canterbury, Sophie Cotsis MP; Member for Strathfield, Jason Yat-Sen Li MP; Canterbury Bankstown Mayor, Khal Asfour; Burwood Mayor, John Faker; Canterbury Bankstown Councillors, Barbara Coorey and Bilal Al Hayek; and Councillors Karl Saleh and Rachelle Harika, representing the Federal Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke MP; among many others.

Ms Cotsis gave a speech on the day and said the ice rink was “an iconic fixture” and “a safe place” for the local community and schools.

“This is above politics,” Ms Cotsis said.

“This is about an important public open space. It’s run by a not-for-profit organisation and regardless of party we will work very hard to make sure that it’s re-opened.

“We really need action now.”

Ms Cotsis at the rally. Photo: Jeremy Curran / Facebook.

Ms Cotsis confirmed she has called for an “urgent roundtable discussion” regarding the ice rink and said NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is aware of the situation.

A petition launched to save the Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink has also already received close to 9,000 signatures.

The Ice Rink was first opened as an iconic recreational sports facility in Sydney in 1971 as a co-operative of volunteers and has remained so for its 51-year history.

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