An up-and-running-earlier-in-the-season Whiteway

will soon be a reality.

In the Sept. 24 issue, the Pioneer reported that the

Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, the non-profit group that

creates and maintains the Whiteway, was fundraising for

a new, lighter, grooming machine that would allow the

society to get the Whiteway set up much sooner in the

winter than it has in previous winters. Well – presto – the

club has just secured the funding, and is busy sourcing

the machine it needs.

The Whiteway, a wintertime trail that stretches

around the frozen surface of Lake Windermere, and

which happens to hold a record as the world’s longest ice

skating path, often gets opened just after the Christmas

holiday or in early January. That’s because the club needs

the ice on Lake Windermere to be at least 12 inches think

before sending its grooming machine out. An all-terrain

vehicle (ATV) tricked out for winter will hopefully let

the club get the Whiteway, or at least the ice skating part

of the trail, operational as much as a full month ahead

of time. The society has teamed up with the Columbia

Valley Greenways Trail Alliance to get funding from the

Columbia Valley Community Foundation, the Columbia

Basin Trust, the Southern Interior Development Initiative

Trust and the Windermere Oilmen’s Golf Tournament,

and now has enough to buy the $21,000 machine.

“The purchase will be made in the coming weeks

through Greenways, and we hope to have it up and running

by November,” said Toby Creek Nordic Club member

Duncan Whittick.

Whittick added that, in the context of COVID-19,

the club’s Whiteway committee identified that providing

physically distant and healthy recreational opportunities

for valley residents and visitors is important.

“We anticipate that there will be more people than

ever in the Columbia Valley this winter, and many will be

keen to get out when it is thick enough to be safe to skate

on, usually by mid-December,” added Whittick. “While

our normal opening date is the first week in January, our

hope is that a lighter piece of equipment will get us out

there prior to the holiday season.”

The ATV will let the club open the Whiteway earlier,

but won’t be much help extending the end of the season.

“Usually later in the season, the issue tends to be lack of

snow for skiing and wet or unsafe skating conditions as

things melt, rather than lack of the required ice thickness,”

said Whittick.

The club is also hoping to make the Whiteway a

smoother ride, literally, with club member Mark Rievaj

looking into the feasibility of an ice flooding machine to

be able to maintain smaller sections of the Whiteway at

a higher level of quality. Those interested in donating to

this initiative can contact Rievaj at mrievaj@gmail.com.