WEATHER ALERT

All they are saying… is give skis a chance

Bourkevale Community Centre opens permanent ski library

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St. James-Assiniboia

Bourkevale Community Centre has opened a permanent cross-country ski library that will lend equipment to anyone wanting to try the winter sport.

“It’s really exciting. I’m so happy,” said Elaine Nystrom, community centre volunteer and ski library organizer.

Nystrom found inspiration for the project after the Winnipeg Trails Association and Winterpeg’s mobile ski library set up, at Nystrom’s request, at the centre for two days last winter.

Photo by Cody Sellar

Elaine Nystrom (right) spearheaded the ski library initiative, and husband Scott Nystrom helps groom the trails around the community centre

“It was really, really busy,” Nystrom said. “So I started to think, ‘Well, wouldn’t it be nice if we had our own little ski library here that people could use not just on a special day, but any day.’”

Nystrom said at first, she had no idea how she’d accomplish this, but she and a few others reached out to the area’s MLA, Adrien Sala, who suggested they write up a proposal and see where it went.

Nystrom took Sala’s advice and sent a proposal to city councillors Shawn Dobson (St. James) and Evan Duncan (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood), as well as Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham.

“We ended up getting funded by all three of them,” she said. “That was awesome. And the community club did throw in a little bit of their own money, as well.”

The ski library will be a permanent fixture of the community centre, and it will run out of the canteen, Nystrom said. Equipment will be available whenever the canteen is open, which means people can access the equipment Monday to Friday from 6 t0 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 9 p.m.

The library will stock 10 pairs of skis, 10 pairs of poles and 15 pairs of boots, all ranging from junior to adult sizes. There will also be kid-sized skis that strap on to regular winter boots, so smaller children can join in on the fun.

All people will need to do is fill out a short form with their contact information and leave their regular footwear behind — which, besides serving as collateral, will also probably lead to a more pleasant experience for those who prefer warm boots. The equipment is for use on community centre property only.

Nystrom said she recently received an email that warmed her heart and hammered in the importance of the project.

The person, who was a newcomer to the country, expressed their gratitude and excitement to visit the library, then explained it will help them, their family and others with a tight budget to adapt to their new home.

Nystrom read a portion of the email: “‘We are not used to these kinds of activities, as we come from tropical country. But I am one of those who would love to learn ice skating and skiing.’”

Nystrom’s husband Scott has also chipped in to make Bourkevale a skiing destination. He has taken over grooming the ski trail around the property, which students from the neighbouring schools of St. James Collegiate and George Waters Middle School use regularly.

“The collegiate uses it every morning,” Scott Nystrom said, shortly after a group of students trudged by in snowshoes.

The ski library kicked off on Jan. 14 with a “celebration of winter” that included a bonfire, marshmallow roast, hot chocolate, games and more.

Bourkevale Community Centre will also be holding ski lessons in January and February, which have already sold out.

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at cody.sellar@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7206.

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