Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Opening of trails could be delayed

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Despite Winnipeg's recent deep-freeze, high and fast water in the Assiniboine River means The Forks' skating trails may not open earlier than usual.

The Assiniboine has recently been flowing at about 10 times its usual rate due to heavy drainage from the Souris River basin. The result is high water levels, and a faster stream of water running underneath the ice, which takes longer to freeze.

Though the Red River is frozen, the Assiniboine needs more time, and it could be another two weeks until snow clearing begins on the Red River Mutual Trail, said Chelsea Thomson, marketing and communications co-ordinator for The Forks.

When the river finally does freeze over completely, crews will begin to clear a skating path and cross-country ski trails. If all goes well, this year could also see a winter cycling trail built from The Forks to the University of Manitoba.

In the meantime, Forks staff say people might see crews hand-shovelling the trail but it's best to wait for the official opening before breaking out the skates.

It's still very early for the trail to open. Skating typically doesn't begin until a couple weeks into January, and the earliest The Forks has ever opened part of the trail is New Year's Eve.

In January, warming huts will be placed along the route and some will feature live music entertainment on weekends.

Thomson said there will be five huts along the river trail, including one from "star architect" Etienne Gaboury, known for designing the Saint Boniface Cathedral and Canadian Mint.

"We've attracted quite a bit of attention internationally," said Thomson. "Everyone participating this year is from Canada. We've got two firms from Toronto and one from Vancouver. We've also got a team from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Architecture."

jesse.marks@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 24, 2013 0

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