The municipal council of Bruges has decided not to authorise any ice skating rinks this winter, and to cancel its traditional ice sculpture festival.
“We feel it’s no longer responsible to waste so much energy freezing the ice and we are looking for a more sustainable alternative,” Mayor Dirk De Fauw (Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams, CD&V) said on Thursday.
With this, the city has ended two of its winter traditions. “We have been reflecting for some time now on how to make the city more sustainable,” De Fauw said.
“We’ve already faced criticism in the past. The winters are becoming warmer and it takes an enormous amount of energy to prevent the ice from melting. That’s no longer responsible in our time. We can also wonder at the added value for the public. In winter, all cities have skating rinks.”
To avoid disappointing skating lovers, the city has come up with an alternative. Would-be skaters can hone their skills on a pontoon in the Minnewater Parc, on an artificial slope.
It is not yet certain what will replace the skating rink on the Grand-Place. “We do not have any plans yet, but we shall hold discussions with the business people, who are already organising the Christmas market, about occupying it, preferably with something unique that only Bruges will offer,” said the mayor, explaining that the choice of the project will be guided by its sustainability.
This comes after a decision by Bruges city council to no longer advertise the city in hotels in other major Belgian cities after concerns that the current levels of tourism are unsustainable and bad for the city.