New Activities Maximize Community Living Outdoors on MacDonald Island
In December of 2020, the winter began to look colder – and longer – as COVID-19 provincial restrictions caused the closure of indoor recreation facilities across Alberta.
Communities began to look at innovative and creative new ways to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to residents, and the team at MacDonald Island Park started to develop plans for more winter activities at the Island, including using the Miskanaw Golf Club course in new and exciting ways.
For several years, MacDonald Island Park has offered an outdoor skating rink under the canopy at SMS Equipment Stadium in Shell Place, creating a magical winter wonderland experience under the shimmering canopy lights and northern sky.
In addition, the TOTAL Aboriginal Interpretive Trail has provided community members with a year-round outdoor walking adventure combined with two public art projects and scenic riverfront views.
In 2020, the team at MacDonald Island expanded these winter activity offerings by adding a new skating trail, two new walking trails, a winter playground and cross country ski trails, all located on the space occupied in the spring to fall seasons by Miskanaw Golf Club members and visitors.
“With the closure of the indoor amenities at the Island, we knew we had to look at expanding our outdoor activities. With the support of the Regional Recreation Corporation (RRC) Board of Directors and Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) Council, we began to explore what we could offer in a safe manner, respecting the provincial guidelines while providing ways for residents to stay active,” said Graig Walsh, Chief Executive Officer of the RRC.
“In a northern community like this, we believed community members would embrace these particular activities and enjoy new opportunities to explore the outdoors at the Island, a place where they come every season to gather, play and connect.”
Winding along the course, the new skating trail provides a safe, comfortable outdoor experience, allowing skaters of all ages and skill levels to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Island while spending time together as families.
The walking trails provide several options for all manner of outdoor enthusiasts, from avid hikers to moms with little ones looking for an escape from indoor monotony, and the cross country ski trails provide a new opportunity for the many cross country ski fans in our region who are always ready for a new adventure.
These new winter activities, along with events and activities delivered by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, such as the Lion’s Park skating trail, Borealis Park skating pond, several outdoor neighbourhood rinks and WinterPLAY, the annual regional celebration of the winter season, showcase the incredible variety of outdoor recreation opportunities available to residents of the region.
The immediate popularity of the new outdoor activities at MacDonald Island displayed the desire of the community to continue to find ways to play during the long and dark days of winter.
Whether skating under the canopy lights or gliding along the skating trail, hearing the crunch of fresh snow under their boots or the gentle swish-swish of cross-country skis as they explored the trails, community members had the opportunity to enjoy a winter experience to remember, creating memories to last a lifetime.
Throughout the winter, residents took advantage of the new skating trail made available on MacDonald Island. Photo by Hanna Fridhed
Cardboard hearts line up alongside the new skating trail by the Miskanaw Golf Club in February 2021. The trail is just one of the many outdoor adventures added to help residents enjoy outdoor activities through the pandemic. Photo by Regional Recreation Corporation