Ski library at Winnipeg neighborhood centre lends free gear to hit the paths

Winnipeggers embraced the cold to skate and ski with free equipment thanks to a new “ski library” at the Bourkevale Community Centre on Saturday.

“Today, the celebration of winter is a one day event, but the ski library is now a permanent fixture at the Bourkevale Community Centre,” said Elaine Nystrom, who helped organize the library’s opening on Saturday.

The community centre had 10 sets of skis and poles, as well as 15 pairs of boots and skis for children for people to register to use an hour at a time.

All of the equipment was signed out several times on Saturday, Nystrom said, which is what she had hoped to see.

A pop up ski library was held at the community centre twice last year, and were so popular that the centre decided they needed to start their own, she said.

Many families and people who have never skied or skated before attended the event, she said.

“Anybody, no matter what their socioeconomic status, no matter their physical ability, will be able to come here and ski and skate.”

Funding for the centre’s new ski library came from the city, two city councillors and private donors, she said.

“This wouldn’t be happening without them. It’s really exciting when people from your own community come out and give money to support something like this.”

‘It takes a community to raise a child’

The ski library will become an official fixture of the community centre starting on Sunday. It will run from Monday to Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and on weekends from 1 to 9 p.m..

Although Nystrom has no children of her own, she  said helping put together the ski library was a way to support the kids in her community.

“It takes a community to raise a child. This is my part in the children of my community’s lives.”

Saturday was Viggo Thounphanith’s first time cross-country skiing, and said it went “great.”

His father, Ken, said it was a great opportunity to get outside, and parents and families would be grateful if more communities offered activities like the ski library.

“It’s really fun and a nice way to get around,” said Alenna Mark. She was babysitting her friend’s children on Saturday, who mentioned the ski library to her.

“Winterpeggers – we take advantage of activities to get outside, especially free ones.”

Alenna Mark, who attended the ski library on Saturday, says the event gives Winnipeggers a chance to “live the good life.” (Nathan Liewicki/CBC)

She loves to ski but says the equipment is often expensive.

“I think accessibility is really important, like getting people outside in the winter, especially living here.”

Besides the equipment, Mark said not everyone has the means to go to Bird’s Hill Park to ski.

The ski library offers Winnipeggers a chance to “live the good life,” she said.

“It’s nice that there’s community centres that have groomed trails as well for people to get out.”

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