The new Range Lake winter wonderland is Yellowknife’s own icy field of dreams.
Stu Impett, Matt Mossman and Rudolph Swanepoel built the collection of rinks and other features, and Yellowknifers are coming.
In past years, there may have been a skating rink or two on Range Lake. Now, there are nine skating rinks, a 2.1-kilometre skating track around the lake’s perimeter, two cross-country ski paths inside the skate track and fire pits accompanying the various rinks. The trio even installed LED lights for residents to make use of the facility during the dark hours of winter.
Impett said the idea formed over coffee.
“It’s one of those things where you just say, ‘Hey, we should build a skate rink’ and then someone else says, ‘Hey I really like to ski, we should build a ski track.’” Range Lake now has all that and then some.
Clarence Pyke, a resident of the Range Lake neighbourhood, said he walks around the lake every day and loves seeing “more and more people out there.”
Pyke said the three busy volunteers are “making the lake great again.”
In a year when social gatherings are restricted due to public health concerns, the chance to socialize outdoors is welcome, Pyke said.
He recognizes the time and energy required to plow, clear and shovel the wonderland and said he “just wants to tell the guys they’re doing a great job.”
Impett admits they have put in a “significant amount of time” to build and maintain the tracks and paths on Range Lake. In the darkest time of year, however, he said the benefits of getting outside are “more than just physical.”
Beyond the expressions of thanks and waving that Impett said he gets from community members enjoying the new and improved Range Lake, some have even been leaving treats on his doorstep to show their gratitude.
The country is taking notice of Range Lake’s makeover, too.
CBC’s The National showcased the lake’s upgrade to viewers across Canada and Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty shared her enthusiasm over Instagram earlier this month.
Though he hopes Yellowknife is not subject to another Covid lockdown, Impett said if public health restrictions do tighten, this area would be an option for Yellowknifers looking to socialize and spend some time outdoors.
On top of the current features, he said the trio are considering adding a curling rink as well.
“Stay tuned,” he said.