The Toby Creek Nordic Society has compiled and released its annual report for the past winter’s Whiteway season.

One item in the report sure to catch the interest of local residents, visitors and indeed anybody who enjoys skating, cross country skiing, fat-tire biking or just walking along the iconic Whiteway trail in winter is the society’s outlined desire to purchase lighter grooming equipment. Which would make it possible to open the Whiteway earlier in the winter and keep it going longer at the end of the season.

“Every year we are inundated with emails, phone calls, and messages after the lake is frozen and before the holiday season asking when will the Whiteway open. Of course, this is always weather dependent, and we need to wait for at least 12 inches (30 centimetres) of ice before we can safely take our machines out on the lake, but we would love to be open before the holiday season every year!” reads the report. “That is why we are currently raising funds to acquire a smaller piece of equipment that will allow us to get out sooner when there is 8 inches (20 centimetres) of ice, and also clear a skating trail on Lake Lillian in addition to the skiing already present there.”

The report listed quite a few other highlights for the 2019-2020 Whiteway season include more than $12,000 in donations received, more than 20,000 trail users, 53 days open on the Lake Windermere Whiteway, more than 75 days open on the Lake Lillian Whiteway, the inaugural Whiteway Winter Challenge race, eight Toby Creek Nordic Society athletes trained as Whiteway ambassadors, and more than 180,000 views on the Whiteway’s Facebook posts.

Lake Windermere officially froze on November 29th, 2019, according to the report, and the society was able to get the Lake Lillian Whiteway open exactly two weeks later, on December 13th, 2019. The Lake Windermere Whiteway followed a bit more than two weeks after that, opening on December 29th, 2019. “Throughout this (past) season we saw a couple of warm weather periods that closed either one or both of the Whiteways periodically, but (the society) managed to keep the Lake Windermere Whiteway open until February 29th, 2020, and the Lake Lillian Whiteway until March,” reads the report. “We were also able to re-open the Whiteway briefly in mid-March to provide residents with a good physical distancing outdoor option.”

A record number of Toby Creek Nordic Society memberships — 354 — were purchased in the 2019-2020 season.