Edmonton outdoor winter activities to go ahead despite COVID-19

Freezing temperatures and a pandemic will not deter Edmontonians from getting out and having fun this winter.

‘That at least allows people to get out and get active’

Skiers and snowboarders will notice some changes this year at Snow Valley Edmonton. (Min Dhariwal/CBC)

Go ahead and get your skis waxed. 

Snow Valley Ski Club's plans this winter have not gone off-piste despite COVID-19, said spokesperson Tim Dea.

With temperatures dropping, the hill is getting ready for the season.

"Even though it is going to snow a fair amount, we could be making snow this weekend," Dea said Thursday. "That's going to be a big part of getting ready."

It will give the hill an opportunity to test its snow guns and start building a base at the bottom of the hill, he said.

This year, Snow Valley and its customers will have to adapt to COVID-19.

"You must wear a mask," Dea said. "We are going to have scanners at each lift so that we can continually have contact tracing of who is on the hill."

Ski hill capacity capped

The number of people allowed on the hill will also be limited, "somewhere between 350 and 400, and that number will fluctuate each day," Dea said. 

Priority will be given to those taking lessons, people training for races and season ticket holders.

"The net effect is that our day lift tickets will be affected," Dea said. "There will be some days when there's lots available and some days when there's hardly any. It all depends on how busy the hill is with programming and seasons pass holders.

"It's going to be new for us so obviously a learning curve."

The Edmonton Ski Club will also be open with expanded hours. It too will require masks indoors, in lift lines and in lessons. 

"We believe being outdoors is a great way to stay active and healthy during the winter," its website says. "This season may look a little different, but we are working hard to ensure you, your family, and your friends are safe while recreating in the river valley."

If zipping down a hill on a plank or two isn't your idea of fun, there are other options this winter, including tennis on ice skates.

Spartan Soccer, an independent league in the Edmonton area, is forgoing indoor activities this winter and will instead offer a variety of outdoor, family-friendly activities.

"We have an adult program and a family program and the activities are going to be based on whatever the temperature is," owner Teo Zanetic said Thursday. 

Soccer on snow

Those activities will range from snow-fort building to ultimate Frisbee and of course soccer, all of which will be done outside in the snow.

"The program also includes details on how you should dress, what level of activities you should be doing and that's all going to be coordinated and managed by us," Zanetic said.

Having the activities outdoors will help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Participants will stay with and compete among the same group of people in each activity.

"That at least allows people to get out and get active," Zanetic said.

Meanwhile the city of Edmonton plans to forge ahead with its winter city strategy although there will be some adjustments due to the pandemic.

The initiative, launched in 2012, is designed to get Edmontonians to embrace winter through outdoor festivals, markets and other activities. 

A notice on the city's website says: "Edmonton's Winter City Strategy is currently being adjusted as we work through this unique time. But we're still a city that enjoys the colder season."

It's not clear what those adjustments will be. City council is expected to get an update on the strategy on Monday.

"There is no intention to move away from any of the work done to date," Coun. Ben Henderson said in an email Thursday.

"As with all the city initiatives with the pull back of staff this summer some of the ongoing work is paused but all of the work and programs of the strategy are still definitely continuing."


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