After a beautiful summer in the nation’s capital, the thoughts of those of us at the Rideau Winter Trail (RWT) have definitely turned to winter. The RWT is a volunteer run not-for-profit in the heart of the city, running along the Rideau River from Donald Street (where the Rideau Sports Centre is located) to Bank Street (more on this below!), offering approximately 12 kms of groomed trail for cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, fat biking and walking.
We are thrilled that our application for funding through the Community Foundation of Canada’s Healthy Communities initiative was a success and grateful for this financial support. This funding has allowed us to purchase some of our own equipment, which is huge for our trail. Previously, we were reliant on the (fantastic) grooming services of a contract groomer, who is very busy with multiple contracts. When snow arrived, we waited until the groomer was available to come and get the trail ready.
“With our own equipment, and with the work of our awesome volunteer groomers, we will be able to get the trail ready more quickly and more often,” says Head Groomer and RWT’s Director of Operations, Peter Nor. As with last year, we will be grooming two paths - one for multi-use (skiing, snowshoeing, walking, fat biking) that runs directly along the river, and one that ideally is kept for skiers and snowshoers, so that the grooming is preserved for these users.
There are number of exciting things on tap for the 2021/22 Rideau Winter Trail season, including an extended trail. Yes, we will groom all the way to Bank Street this year, giving users a few more kilometres of trail to enjoy. That will also mean some additional reliance on “Shovel Elves” to move snow under the Smyth Street bridge. Our long-term goal is to groom all the way to Mooney’s Bay, and this gets us a few kilometres closer.
There was an issue last season with people leaving garbage on top of closed off bins along the trail, which had to be collected and removed by volunteers. We kindly ask that people take any dog waste or other garbage with them and use the open receptacles at bins that will be placed at trail entrances, where City of Ottawa garbage trucks can easily access for collection. Please encourage other trail users to do the same!
We are excited about a partnership with the Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library, which will provide equipment available for loan to local residents. Details on location and hours will be made public soon. We are also working with local schools, and will be grooming the trail in advance of their visits. “We want to get as many students out on the Rideau Winter Trail as possible, and we are happy to be working with local schools to ensure a great experience for the children,” says Nor.
Another exciting addition this year is the opportunity to rent equipment right at the trail on a few weekends during the season. We plan to announce these dates in advance, but the best way to keep updated on all things RWT related is to follow us on social media. You can find us on Twitter (@RideauWinter), Facebook (@RideauWinterTrail) and Instagram (@RideauWinterTrail). We also encourage you to visit our website: www.rideauwintertrail.ca
Local City Councillor and RWT Board Member, Mathieu Fleury, says the trail in the heart of our city, which is free to use, would not be possible without the work of volunteers and support of sponsors. “We are so grateful for the incredible support of our amazing community, the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission, which makes this trail possible,” says Fleury. “We will continue to work with and seek sponsors and other funding opportunities, so we can continue to increase our trail offerings.”
If you’d like to volunteer to help, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be setting up a new GoFundMe, for those who’d like to provide a financial contribution to help us maintain and expand the Rideau Winter Trail for years to come.
Martha Jeacle is a volunteer with the Rideau Winter Trail.
Featured in the December 2021 OSCAR.