Thanks to some favourable weather conditions in recent weeks, the North Bay Nordic Ski Club has announced that it will open its clubhouse to the public on Thursday, December 17.
“I anticipate a great winter out there,” said Mark Thomas, President of the ski club.
Thomas says the trails have been getting used over the past couple of weeks leading up to the official opening of the club on Thursday.
Entering its 45th season, the ski club is preparing for its busiest year in over two decades.
Thomas says there are already 150 more members signed up this year.
“It’s already been pretty busy this year but I think with the opening this week it’ll be a pretty busy area,” he noted. “People are looking for safe things to do this winter to get outside and enjoy the outdoors and get out from being hidden inside.”
According to Thomas, the ski club usually sees around 700 members per year.
Thomas and the ski club have been preparing for the season since September, needing to work within health guidelines set forth by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health, Cross Country Ski Ontario and Nordiq Canada.
“All three agencies realize that every club is a little bit different. So you have to work within the regulations that each party sets out but also have something that works for your specific setup. So I think we have a great setup. It’s going to be safe for everyone who visits the club,” Thomas explained.
As part of those protocols, Thomas says the clubhouse will have a capacity limit indoors and encourages people to come to the club ready to ski to minimize the number of people inside. There will also be stricter cleaning measures undertaken by staff.
Equipment rentals will still be available, with increased cleaning given to anything that’s rented.
“Certainly there are lots of unknowns with COVID,” Thomas noted. “We’re ready to adapt as we have things set up right now. We’re following all the proper protocols and regulations but things can change quickly with COVID so we have plans in place that if things change, we can adapt.”
Despite the possibility of having to change protocols, Thomas has been told that cross-country skiing is a fairly safe activity to do during the pandemic.
“The Health Unit and Cross Country Ski Ontario really have no concerns about the numbers of people on the ski trails at a time. There’s lots of social distancing out there,” he said.
After the holidays, Thomas plans to resume youth skiing programs on weekends with smaller groups of children.
The North Bay Nordic Ski Club will officially open on December 17 at 9 am.