Anybody can pile snow into a mound and call it a fort. There are few people with the skill and patience to do what David Neyedli does.
For the past seven years, on days when most of us are sheltering from the frigid winter, Neyedli has been seen marching around the front lawn of his Home Street duplex, shovel and watering can in hand.
The structures he builds with just those tools and his own two hands dwarf many of the snow sculptures at Festival du Voyageur, sometimes spilling over one or two of his neighbours’ yards as well as his own.
Despite their grand scale, Neyedli is humble about his reasons for building them.
"I just do it for the neighbourhood and do it for myself," he said. "I get exercise. It’s good to see kids outside playing instead of in front of a TV or a computer."
This year’s snow structure is a 12-foot tall castle. One side is a slide leading down into an icy bowl extending over the yard and up to his neighbour’s fence.
Neyedli carved a spiral staircase leading to the top, where kids can launch and slide all around.
Neyedli doesn’t have any kids of his own. When he built his first sculpture, a snow maze, Alyzia Horsfall and her family lived in the lower half of the house.
"I was inspired because there were so many kids in the neighbourhood, including Alyzia’s own kid," he said.
Horsfall’s son Caleb was only three when Neyedli started building. On the day The Metro came by, Caleb, now 10, was there with Horsfall and her five-year-old daughter Anika.
"It’s awesome," says Horsfall, gesturing at the frozen slide. "Even though we don’t live at this house anymore, the kids still want to come back and play."
Neighbourhood kids started adding their own touches to Neyedli’s creations. This year, some kids stuck frozen hearts made of cranberries to the outside.
Warm weather last winter forced Neyedli to gather snow from yards 10 houses away. That hasn’t been a problem this year.
The biggest challenge this year was keeping the kids off until it was ready.
"Until you ice it, it all just falls down. So I ended up having to do double the work...because kids want to slide. So now I just have it closed until I’m ready to open it."
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The Trees Action Group is looking for people to send letters to their MLAs calling on them to make fighting Dutch Elm Disease a priority in this year’s provincial budget.
They want the province to share the cost of the City of Winnipeg’s planned strategy to fight DED and reinstate full management of the disease in the buffer zones of Richot and Springfield municipalities.
The group argues this is needed to prevent "catastrophic" loss of the city’s elm canopy.
A copy of a form letter and contact info for MLAs can be found on the Wolseley Residents Associaton website at www.wolseleyresidents.ca.
Cameron MacLean is a community correspondent for Wolseley. You can contact him at email@example.com.