Forks river trail opens along Assiniboine but not Red

Winnipeg's river trail is now open from The Forks to the Osborne bridge, along the Assiniboine River.
Winnipeg's river trail is now open from The Forks to the Osborne bridge, along the Assiniboine River. Kiran Dhillon reports. 2:16

Winnipeg's river trail is now open from The Forks to the Osborne bridge, along the Assiniboine River.

Officials with The Forks North Portage Partnership, which builds and maintains the popular trail, said crews have been working hard to extend the trail along the Red River as well, and hope to open that section soon.

A Zamboni breaks the tape to officially open the Forks river trail on Friday. (Kiran Dhillon/CBC)
And if you're in the mood to shoot a puck, two big hockey rinks on the river by the Forks port are also now open.

Forks spokesperson Claire MacKay said she expects big crowds on the trail this year, as always, and so organizers have planned a variety of activities and events.

“There's almost something every weekend. Everything from an ice bike race, a couple of curling bonspiels, [and] we've got a shinny tournament," she said.

Bayan Hilo was one of the first to hit the trail this morning.

The grade 11 student moved to Winnipeg from Iraq three years ago and is not used to the kind of intense cold Manitoba's had recently.

"Oh my gosh," she said. "In my country I never see snow. Here, it's minus 50. I just can't believe it."

But Friday, she was singing a different tune as she and others from her class took advantage of the higher temperature.

"I'm not wearing a jacket," she said. "It's so fun and it's so nice and warm outside. Just minus 5, so nice."

Denny Lebreton said he finally ventured out today after staying inside over the cold spell.

He took his 2-year-old daughter, Elize, out for the first time this winter.

"Canada has been really hit with the bad weather for the past month, month and a half and it's just nice to get out after being cooped up all the time," he said.

It's not only parents who've been itching to get outside.

Children at Ecole LaVerendrye have been inside for recess for most of this week, and for the two weeks leading up to the holidays.

Kayla Hallar, 10, said she's got a lot of pent up energy.

"Normally when I go outside, I'm very energetic and I do a lot of running and playing so being inside, just stops all that," she said.​

Forks officials said new warming huts will be added to the trail in about 10 days.

Each year architects from around the world compete to have their design selected for construction.

New huts this year include three chosen from the open submission process, one from a University of Manitoba competition, one from Kelvin High School and one being designed by invited local architect ÉtienneGaboury.

Also returning this year is the pop-up restaurant, RAW:almond. Built of scaffolding and a white wrapping that resembles an iceberg, the restaurant at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers is set for a three-week run from Jan. 24 to Feb. 13.

Last year, the entire run was sold out in the first week as 1,300 dinner guests experienced a meal on ice and chefs braved the elements to make five-course meals in a makeshift kitchen. 

This year's version will feature an expanded dining room, a new lounge and surprise screenings of video installations.