There will be no free skating at local arenas this holiday season, as Guelph’s Tim Hortons owners opted not to sponsor the free holiday skates this year.
“We’ll still have the skates, but people will just have to pay for it,” said Murray Cameron, the city’s general manager of parks and recreation.
In years past, Tim Hortons “actually booked ice time with us and paid it in full,” he said. The company paid for slots where the city would normally offer public skating for a fee, and then people could skate for free.
“They weren’t always full, but they were well attended,” Cameron said of the free skating events.
But this year, Tims opted out.
“This year, instead of the free skates, we focused on enhancing our Timbits hockey and soccer sponsorships by adding Timbits Jamborees to the programs,” Tim Hortons senior manager of public affairs Olga Petrycki said in an email.
The Timbits sports programs are offered to children ages four to eight who take part in house league sports.
The jamborees are Tims-sponsored events where those kids get to play their sport and everyone gets food, beverages and a prize.
The programs are among the many local community initiatives that local franchise owners are involved in around the city, Petrycki said.
Among the community initiatives are the free public swims the company sponsors in the summer, which are expected to continue this year, said Cameron.
As for the skates, the same ice time will be open for the public to enjoy, he said.
But the city will have to charge skaters in an effort to make up revenue lost from the Tim Hortons bookings.
There is still at least one local place where people can skate for free: the Market Square skating rink is open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. as long as it’s cold.
On New Year’s Eve, the ice will be open from 10 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. for those who want to ring in the new year on the rink.