In the next couple of weeks, Mayor Brad Mapes will be pitching the idea of a skating trail on the Hay River to town council.
The mayor believes it would be a popular addition to winter recreation in Hay River, using a variation of a famous line from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams to make his point.
“If we build that trail on the river, it will be like if you build a ball field, they’ll come,” he said.
Mapes said he has already asked a few dozen people for their opinions of the concept.
“I don’t want to put forward an idea that community members don’t think is worthwhile,” he said. “I’ve had some positive response.”
The mayor said the idea was partially inspired by the famed Rideau Canal skating rink in Ottawa.
“We’re not going to be as detailed as what they do,” he said, noting he has seen the Rideau Canal in winter and found it “pretty neat.”
Mapes said a skating trail would be another opportunity to showcase the beautiful Hay River.
In his concept, the skating trail would start at the main ice crossing to the Hay River Reserve and run to behind the Northwest Territories Power Corporation building or perhaps the B&R Building.
That way, skaters would not cross the ice road.
Mapes said the skating trail would require a minimal amount of money to build.
“You’d just have to get the snow off the ice and we might have to get a little bit of flooding done on it, but I think there are some people I could bring in to help volunteer to flood it,” he said. “And then we can do a little bit of lighting, like get some solar lighting that we could put along there. It would be kind of a neat idea.”
In his concept, the trail would be narrow with snow banks along the sides to keep snowmobiles off the route.
“And then maybe along the edge you can make a snowshoe trail or something,” he said. “I think that’s what probably would happen is you’d end up having people that might want to snowshoe alongside of it.”
Mapes said the trail would have more curves that just the natural curves on the river to make it an interesting skate.
“I think it would be a nice family outing,” he said.
Mapes pointed out a couple of benefits from such a skating trail.
“I think it just gives the town a little bit of flair,” he said. “We have the beauty of the Hay River all the way along our community and it would be a nice add-on to that.”
Plus, he noted it would be good for community wellness.
“It’s a neat little thing that would be a nice community wellness project that would set apart our community, especially that we’ve got a river right next to us,” he said.
The mayor also believes it would tie in nicely to the Arctic Winter Games in March.
Mapes thinks council will support the idea, noting he has already talked to a few members.
In fact, he hopes the skating trail will be ready by Christmas.