Nanaimo's mayor embarks on learn-to-skate journey

By Ian Holmes
November 11, 2017 - 9:05pm Updated: November 11, 2017 - 10:45pm

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay taking advice from City of Nanaimo skating instructor Michelle Van Raes.Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — He treads carefully on the ice of Frank Crane Arena trying to master the skill of skating.

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay always wanted to learn how to skate, it just took him a long time to get around to it. He laced up a pair of skates for the first time in his life in September of last year, which launched his learn-to-skate crusade.

Naturally, McKay signed up for a City of Nanaimo Adult RecSkate program.

“I call the rink my fortress of solitude,” McKay said during a break from a recent lesson. “When I put the skates on and I step on the ice I forget about everything else that's going on in my world and I concentrate completely on that.”

McKay, 62, called the City's Adult RecSkate program one of the most positive atmospheres he's ever been in, noting participants are incredibly upbeat and supportive.

“I want to be good at it and ultimately at some point I'd like to work with a partner and maybe some day come back on to the Frank Crane Arena and do a dance.”

McKay said he's been on the ice about 30 to 40 times and has been more committed over the past few months. He's attained a bronze skating level issued by City instructors and is halfway through attaining silver.

City of Nanaimo program leader of arenas Stacey Patterson said McKay falls into a common category of people who want to learn how to skate. She said retirees like the idea because they never got a chance as a kid or enjoy the fitness aspect.

She said many parents watch their kids on the ice and want to be a part of it too.

“They decide 'uh oh' I better take some lessons and see if I can learn how to skate to try to keep up with my kids so they can go public skating,” Patterson said.

Patterson helped create the City of Nanaimo's RecSkate program, which she said has seen thousands of participants in her 14 years overseeing it.

She said there are more than 400 skaters of all ages currently in their RecSkate programming.


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