While cities in Belgium cancel or think of alternatives to their winter ice rinks, Brussels has decided to stick to tradition and keep its Winter Wonders ice rink on Place De Brouckère during the Christmas market.
With the rising energy prices crippling companies and households alike, towns such as Vilvoorde, Aarschot, Tienen and Ghent have decided to forgo the ice rinks at their respective Christmas markets in favour of alternatives. Ghent, for example, has instead opted for a roller skating rink.
The decision was not without criticism. "An ice skating rink is an enormous energy eater," stated CD&V city councillor Bianca Debaets. "It would be unheard of for the City of Brussels to keep such an attraction in these times. Especially since there are alternatives that are also fun for young and old during the end-of-year period."
Councillor for Major Events, Delphine Houba (PS) explained: "As in past years, we cover it to reduce energy consumption,". The City of Brussels prefers to pay the energy costs of the ice rink to preserve that extra touch of winter atmosphere.
Support for the decision
Opposition parties (N-VA, Open VLD and PVDA) support the city council's decision saying that they cannot take away all fun elements from the public. "The ice rink is something many families look forward to. It now forms a symbol of the energy eater, but there are many other ways to save. For example, public lighting should switch to LED lighting as soon as possible."
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Municipal councillor Mathias Vanden Borre agreed, asserting that "LED lighting can help save to a large extent. I don't think we should take even more from the Brussels native."
Councillor Riet Dhondt conceded that people have been having a hard time, although "a roller skating rink as an alternative was not a bad idea".