Stuart Park rink

All the available 280 skating slots have been booked each day this week at Stuart Park in Kelowna. But usage doesn't always reach the 40-person capacity because of overbookings and no-shows, as suggested in this screen shot taken from the park's webcam on Friday afternoon.

Demand for skating at Stuart Park has exceeded the reservable time slots through the outdoor rink's first week of operation under COVID-19 protocols.

A total of 280 people, in hour-long groups of 40 skaters, can be accommodated each day at the rink on Water Street in downtown Kelowna.

All the bookable times have been taken this week, with most slots snapped up as soon as online reservations become possible at 9 a.m.

"The response has been awesome," Doug Nicholas, the city's sport and event services manager, said Friday. "People are very happy for the opportunity to get outside and keep active by skating."

However, there's been a bit of an issue with overbooking and no-shows.

When people make a free reservation, they can do so for up to six people in their group. Often, the indicated number of skaters per group do not show up. Occasionally, the entire group is a  no-show.

That means there aren't the 40 skaters on the ice that Interior Health has set as the maximum number of people who can be on the ice at any time. Would-be skaters who've noticed the capacity is sometimes less than the 40 that is stipulated have expressed some frustration about not being able to get onto the ice.

Nicholas said the city is trying to address such concerns by making tweaks to the reservation system. And he notes it's possible the capacity limit will be increased in early February when the current round of COVID-19 public health orders are to be reviewed by the government.

For now, though, the city is asking people to be mindful of how the reservation system works and to not make bookings for more than the number of people they know will make up their group.

The booking system works on a rolling three-day window. Reservations can be made at 9 a.m. each day for one-hour time slots three days ahead.

Make skating reservations here: