Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Loss of cross-country ski trails sends message -- be sedentary

  • Print

Manitoba's winter is a great season and it's always a treat to spend a few days in Riding Mountain National Park. It's so peaceful and magical to be outdoors cross-country skiing on bright and sunny arctic days, and it's so pleasant to relax tired muscles in the warm water of the Solstice Spa at Elkhorn Resort.

Unfortunately, this year our national park created for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada has lost its raison d'etre by cutting services and stopping the grooming of cross-country ski trails.

This is a cost saving measure, but at the same time, cars are welcome in the ghost town of Wasagaming where streets are cleared of snow at great expense.

Why was such a decision made?

Winter is part of our Canadian culture and cross-country skiers are people of Canada. Cutting access to the park is like closing movie theaters to save cleaning costs; it does not make any sense. Of course, it will save a few dollars in the park budget, but the global cost to the country is far reaching.

Canada, through its national parks, is promoting a sedentary winter. Physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health concern and is responsible for huge health care expenses, but the message from our government is loud and clear: we love cars and don't mind the expense of clearing streets that go nowhere, but outdoor exercise is not good. Winter should be enjoyed from the comfort of a couch in front of a TV or somewhere else like Florida, but certainly not in our national parks.

This decision will encourage cross-country skiers to go to our neighbours in the United States with their many groomed trails, great accommodations and, of course, shopping malls on the way. The loss to the Canadian economy is much more than a few dimes saved by not grooming trails -- it is also threatening the survival of local hotels by deterring visits by precious winter customers.

The federal government had no problem encouraging snowmobile associations in Quebec by giving them a grant of $940,000 in 2012, supposedly to boost the province as a prime winter destination.

Snowmobiling is not the only winter activity to promote and Manitoba is also a winter destination with great potential. It has the longest skating path in the world, a restaurant on the river, multiple unique winter festivals and diverse and challenging cross-country ski trails in our provincial and national parks. Tourists, especially Europeans, attracted by our wilderness and exotic winters, are ready to come, but not if we stop services.

Whoever made the decision to cut services in our national parks should stand by their beliefs by doing two things: Cut the cost of the yearly pass in half. Why pay for a full year when services are only available half the year? And change the sign at the entrance of the park to the following: Welcome to our Part-Time' National Park.

We Don't Like Winter and Cross-Country Skiers.

Winnipegger Philippe Erhard, originally from France, is a physician, author and avid cross-country skier.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 30, 2013 A11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kenney lashes out at Manitoba's “campaign of fear” on immigration

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.
  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you fallen victim to misleading cable, Internet or cellphone promotions?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google