The Arctic Energy Alliance (AEA) held a week-long event in Hay River to promote the use of bicycles as an alternate form of transporation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Called the Bike Week in Hay River: Combat Climate Change, the event took place from Aug. 8 to 14, beginning with a Combat Climate Change Kick-Off at the Aurora Ford Arena ice surface.
The Hay River Fire Department hosted its popular bike rodeo as part of the opening weekend where kids learned some basic bike maintenance tricks, safe helmet fitting, and road safety rules by going through an obstacle course set up on the arena ice surface.
Louise Schumann, regional energy project coordinator for the South Slave Region said that the opening event was complemented by food and prizes.
“After building up an appetite completing the obstacle course, participants were treated to a hamburger and hot dog barbecue compliments of the Super A and Territorial Beverages, and cooked and served by the Hay River Legion volunteers,” she said.
“Some lucky participants won cool prizes such as helmets donated by the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre.”
The whole point of the week was to get residents to commit and follow through on forgoing the use of their vehicles as much as possible and then to record the distances on a data log sheet.
“In continuation with the week’s theme, AEA hosted a community fun bike ride each night of the week from Monday through Friday starting at a different location each night,” Schumann said.
The closing weekend featured bikers gathering again at the arena ice surface to decorate their bikes for display during a bike parade that went through the downtown core.
Schumann said that the parade was grateful to have the Hay River RCMP and town’s fire department ambulance truck lead the way. Another barbecue was held at the arena to close off the week’s festivities.
In 2019, the Arctic Energy Alliance published Hay River’s Community Energy Profile which includes information about how much energy is used for local transporation.
“The hopeful outcome of the week’s events was to encourage habit changes surrounding energy use in the form of local transportation which was calculated at 29 percent of Hay River’s total energy use in 2018, according to data collected by the AEA for Hay River’s Community Energy Profile,” he explained.
“Participants in the Bike Week Event collectively succeeded to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 73 kilograms.”
Schumann said that last week’s festivities were the first time she has seen the event through her role with the AEA, but that several other communities across the NWT were holding their own bike events at the same time.
“A part of our big part of our job in the regions is community engagement and just getting out and spreading awareness,” she said, adding that there were several organizations that donated time and items to ensure the event could take place.
Among them included the Hay River Fire Department, Hay River Home Hardware, Royal Canadian Legion #250, Soaring Eagle Friendship Center, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Super A, NorthMart, Territorial Beverages, the Town of Hay River (and their Arena staff); and volunteers Tom Makepeace, Melanie Carter, Cheryl McMeekin, and Ramlah Kyomuhendo.
Theo Williams won the raffle draw for the child bike draw sponsored by the Hay River Home Hardware.
Don Sabaldica won the raffle draw for the adult bike sponsored by the AEA.