The Town of the Blue Mountains’ (TBM) staff continue to press forward with preliminary plans to offer residents and visitors new recreation opportunities within the municipality this winter.
Earlier this fall TBM town council had proposed that town staff explore the possibilities of grooming both the Tomahawk golf course and portions of the Georgian Trail for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Since that time, staff have determined that grooming the Georgian Trail for skiing may not be feasible.
“Consensus there was that the cross-country ski activity on that trail would be very difficult,” said Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM during a committee of the whole meeting held earlier this week.
“That being said, there was a suggestion that the trail could still be groomed for bicycling, specifically for the fat bikes that are available with the larger tires,” he added.
Plans to utilize the town-owned Tomahawk golf course are still on the table.
“This will include looking at equipment and staffing to be able to groom cross-country ski, as well as snowshoeing trails,” Gibbons said.
TBM staff are also exploring the possibility of installing an outdoor skating rink.
“The challenge with outdoor rinks is that they're weather dependent. There’s been some preliminary investigations around the possibility of using synthetic ice. Those items are ongoing,” Gibbons stated.
Although it comes with a bigger price tag, TBM staff suggest installing synthetic ice may be the way to go as it is more dependable throughout the fluctuating winter temperatures.
“The big piece from a financial perspective is the concept of an outdoor skating rink,” said TBM CAO, Shawn Everitt. “You're probably looking at $80,000 to purchase a 100-foot by 60-foot rink and then there would also be some prep work that would have to be done.”
According to Everitt, installation of an outdoor synthetic rink would cost roughly $100,000.
A follow-up staff report is expected to be presented to council at the Nov. 17 committee of the whole meeting.
The report will detail outdoor rink options, possible budget implications, as well as a summary of near-by properties owned by other entities (conservation districts, provincial lands) and their plans for winter maintenance and snow clearing.
Pending final approval from TBM council at the Nov. 30 council meeting, approved plans will be implemented as soon as possible.
“We need to get going on this because it will be a great benefit to residents as it's something to do outside in a safe place, in a safe environment,” added TBM councillor Rob Sampson.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca