Where to sled in Winnipeg this holiday break
Don't let cold weather keep you inside over the holidays
With the coldest Christmas in 20 years forecast to hit southern Manitoba on Monday, strapping on a few pounds of snow gear and spending an hour outdoors might not seem appealing.
But if you're looking for an activity to get the family outside and are ready to bundle up, old-fashioned tobogganing could be your solution.
Many Winnipeg hills are free to use, open all hours of the day and accessible by bus or vehicles. A few of them even come complete with amenities like warming shelters, bathrooms and night lighting.
Here's rundown of your sledding options in the city.
If you want to try out the new kid on the block, head to St. Vital Park, at 190 River Rd., to try out a toboggan run that opened just in time for the holiday season.
On Friday, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, Manitoba Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires and St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes met at the park to cut the ribbon on the new facility — which actually includes two slides at different heights — that's wheelchair accessible, with a ramp to one of the slides.
The free run features a heated warming shelter with a window to watch the action and a lookout point. It also gives you the enticing opportunity to sled on a toboggan run with a seal of approval from four-time Paralympic sledge hockey player Billy Bridges, who took the inaugural run on Friday, and Olympic hockey player Sami Jo Small, who is married to Bridges and joined him after the first run.
"The toboggan run was great — it's perfect, it's secure," Bridges told CBC News on Friday.
The park also features skating and cross-country ski trails, so you can make a day of it if you want.
The same goes for the run at FortWhyte Alive, which centre spokesperson Jessica Jarosiewicz said is "for thrill-seekers." It'll cost you, though — admission to the park is $8 for the general public, $7 for older adults and $6 for students and kids.
The centre touts its run as the tallest in Winnipeg, and Jarosiewicz said it makes for a pretty fast ride, targeted at kids eight and up.
The centre also has a small hill near the toboggan slide structure, she added, so you can opt for that if you have younger family members.
Beyond its sledding options, the centre also has a skating rink and café with indoor seating if you don't want to bring a lunch.
The centre is closed on Christmas Day, but it's open every other day of the year, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Holiday hours kick in on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve, when the park is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The City of Winnipeg also maintains a number of toboggan slides in various neighbourhoods, and they all have either washrooms or warm-up shelters on hand.
Bunn's Creek Park in River East actually has both, plus night lighting and an attendant most days of the week, except for Monday and Tuesday, according to the City of Winnipeg website. The structure features one slide, and you can find it at 365 McIvor Ave.
Fraser's Grove Park, at 85 Fraser's Grove, also features one slide plus night lighting and a warm-up shelter.
Kildonan Park at 2015 Main St. features a two-slide run with night lighting and a washroom, the city website says. Further south, Crescent Drive Park at 781 Crescent Dr. has the same amenities.
If you prefer to sled on a hill, not a slide, you've still got options in Winnipeg.
For a gentler sledding experience, you can head to Assiniboine Park, at the hill just north of the Nature Playground. The hill as it looks now was formally unveiled in 2010, but park spokesperson Laura Cabak said sledding goes back decades in the century-old park.
Cabak calls the park's hill "family friendly" — its gentle slope is suitable for little ones, although older kids can have fun, too, she added.
From the hill, you can walk over to the skating rink on the park's duck pond and the accompanying warm-up shelter, complete with fireplace, picnic tables and bathrooms, or the Park Cafe beside it.
This year, you can also check out skating on the newly-minted Terry Fox Fitness Trail one-kilometre skating loop.
The park is open to the public at all hours, but Cabak said staff encourage sledding during daylight hours for safety's sake.
Across town, you can check out Westview Park at 1 Midland St. — a.k.a. Garbage Hill — for a much steeper downhill adventure.
You won't find lighting or a warm-up shelter at this hill, but you will notice the not-half-bad view, and hefty bumps in the centre of the run for the more extreme toboggan enthusiast.
You can also check out the hills at Civic Park, at 901 Kimberley Ave., and Victoria Jason Park, at 255 Redonda St. Neither of the parks have lighting or warm-up shelters, so make sure to come prepared.
If you're keen on a warm-up shelter, you can also check out Harbourview Recreation Complex at 1867 Springfield Rd. There's a warm-up area in the complex itself, although the hill doesn't have lighting.