Ski and snowshoes hot items at the Boreal Centre

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

It’s not open to the public, but the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation (BCBC) staff is still scheming up ways to serve the public. Just before the Jan. 9 weekend they announced free cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals. Application is online; pickup is outside the front doors of the BCBC, in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park. Off you go; have a nice weekend and please return the equipment by Monday.

So did anybody take them up on it?

“Yes!” says Gabby Higney, who works as a ‘boreal interpreter’ at the BCBC. “We’re almost out of equipment. It’s pretty hot!”

That was on Monday morning, Jan. 11. If people returned all the stuff they borrowed on the weekend, it would all have been available again the next weekend and each weekend while the snow lasts.

The BCBC, it should be noted, has been closed since the beginning of October, as an apparent cost-cutting measure by the provincial government. It happened despite a furious lobbying effort by many, including local municipalities. The BCBC’s winter programs have been well-subscribed over the past few years. The saving to the province in closing it for the winter months is minimal.

According to municipal sources, some ‘good news’ on the topic is expected from the province; that was the story since before Christmas, and we’re still waiting.

Higney says where people use the skis and snowshoes is up to them. It may or may not even be in the park. There are 20 – 25 pairs of skis and boots available, of various sizes. The process is to fill out and submit an ‘equipment request form’ that can be found on the BCBC website or Facebook page. Applicants will then get a phone call, confirming a time for pickup. Higney says any confusion about what equipment is whose is avoided by having a form in the bag that contains the ski boots.

Now all we need is a bit of fresh snow.

“People are really excited about getting outside,” Higney says.

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