Skating trail returning with community help
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
Thanks to several community volunteers the Sioux Lookout Skating Trail is making a comeback this winter. The trail was conceived in the winter of 2018 when a former resident, Dr. Ruben Hummelen, thought it would be fun to be able to skate with his son from his residence to a friend’s house. The idea grew into what has become a yearly tradition, giving community members a chance to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of our region while getting exercise and fresh air.
With the current provincial COVID restrictions forcing the closure of the Sioux Lookout Recreation Centre and Sioux Lookout Memorial Arena, and indoor gatherings being limited to five people, access to outdoor activities is more relevant than ever.
This year the trail’s creation is being handled by a small group of local volunteers, including Tayler Sorensen. When Sorenson first arrived in Sioux Lookout last December, he was looking for something to get him out into the community. Although the trail at that time was pretty much finished, he still found ways to help out, so when the snow fell this year, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.
As Sorensen explained, “I kind of just got things started this year, ‘first man on the ground’ after that big snowfall. I just started shoveling and that’s kind of how it all started. When I spoke to Ruben (Hummelen) last year, he said, ‘Just get that first shovel in and that will gain momentum.’”
And that’s what Sorensen did, continuing, “It’s going well. It’s definitely a lot of snow to be cleared. Initially it was only me, then Alan (Howie). Then Stephen (Gray) came with a quad and that made it a lot wider, so right now we have it stretched from the end of Ethel (Street) all the way to the town docks. It will definitely get wider once we get a truck on the ice, but that just depends on ice conditions.”
Sorenson continued “This time I kind of want to do something a little different than last year. Rather than just a straight road, and skating back and forth, I wanted to do almost a figure eight, to give people more freedom to move at their own pace. I kind of started that yesterday, made the middle point then started the path closer to the shoreline. Because we haven’t had an actual plow truck, just quads, the weight hasn’t really been able to scrape down to the ice, so that will take a bit of work just to scrape that little bit off. There has been talk about once the truck gets on the ice maybe making it longer, to the town beach, but even last year people parked right at the new town docks. That’s where most people put on their skates, on the dock.”
Another volunteer assisting with the trail creation is Alan Howie, who last year helped plow the trail. As Howie explained, this year’s trail is proving a bit more complicated to establish, stating “This year our area saw large accumulations of snow prior to the ice thickness being ready to be cleared by hand and small quads with plows. The opening of the skate trail remains an uphill battle from the beginning.”
Howie is hopeful that the work will get done, however, seeing a need for low-cost winter activities for families in our area. “The skating trail could be a real asset to the community. Our community needs more low-cost opportunities for recreational activities. Not everyone has money to play hockey. Look at the high use of the outdoor rink. Many people enjoy skating and not hockey. The outdoor rink use for skating is a challenge. Going out to participate when you want to and not when a time slot is available is a mindset of today’s society. That’s one of the reasons why you see the outdoor rink and other actives in the winter being popular. Our community needs recreational opportunities and then to be informed about the opportunities. Look at the popularity of the Nordic Nomads ski trails.”
While work on the skating trail remains ongoing, the hope is to have a section long enough to skate on ready this week. Once completed, access to the trail can be gained at the corner of Ethel Street and Fourth Avenue, or at the new town docks.