C Bay skate trail saved by community volunteers

CONSTANCE BAY – The weekend’s winter storm was almost the final nail in Constance Bay’s community skate trail, but several community volunteers undaunted by roughly 22 centimetres of snow, banded together last night (Jan. 18) to bring it back to life.

Last week (Jan. 11) West Carleton Online visited the roughly 2.5-kilometre long Ottawa River skate trail and spoke to a couple of the volunteers who first built and maintained the trail.

Their fear at the time was one big storm would be the end of the trail due to the challenge of plowing such a large amount of snow. Over the weekend roughly 22 centimetres of snow fell on West Carleton, 21 centimetres on Saturday (Jan. 16) alone.

Yesterday, Constance Bay resident Kyle Smith, who was the first to plow the trail, figured the storm spelled the demise of the skate trail.

“Unfortunately, the skateway didn’t make it through the weekend weather,” he posted on social media yesterday (Jan. 18). “Careful if you do venture out on it. A lot of thin frozen crust over top water and frozen foot tracks.”

To make matters worse, someone had driven their four-wheeler on the soft trail leaving unskateable tire tracks behind.

Another early skate trail volunteer Steve Platthy also thought the trail was in trouble.

“The skateway is somewhat skateable however the ice is still cracking underneath from all of the water that was sitting on top,” he posted. “One more night of cold weather should harden things up. The rest of the skateway is ruined thanks to a side by side that just had to get out and drive on the skateway. It is not so easily repairable.”

But the Constance Bay community was not going to let go of their community skate trail quite so easily. In a swell of volunteerism, several community members stepped up to save the skateway.

“I would be willing to take my Kubota side by side out with the plow and widen it up, I have a battery powered ice auger, we could drill several holes along the way if someone has a pump and is willing to help flood it?” Kirk Harlow offered in a social media thread on the issue. “Just an idea. Unfortunately, even my tractor’s wouldn’t take out the tracks without flooding.”

The conversation on saving the trail was started and a plan was struck. Last night, Mike Bryant, Darrell Martin and Harlow, a long with some other help, got to work, not only fixing the skate trail, but improving it with a flooding – the first time the trail has been flooded.

“The sense of community here is why I will cherish every day I get to live here,” Julie Wright posted on social media – one of many, many posts thanking the volunteers for saving the community skate trail.