‘Wild ride’ of unpredictable weather means tough times for Winnipeg outdoor attractions

With the forecast looking more spring than a typical February in Winnipeg, some might be celebrating the warm weather.

For local business owners whose bread and butter comes from outdoor activities, however, it’s been a frustrating season, to say the least.

Clint Masse, who owns the A Maze In Snow attraction south of Winnipeg, says this winter is the “wildest ride” he’s ever experienced.

Masse told 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg that the maze, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and employ up to 20 people each season, is still up and running despite the unpredictable weather conditions, including a late start, thaws, freezes, and even rain.

“Mother Nature’s going have to do a lot better than give us a plus 6 Celsius on Saturday to derail our season,” he said, “but we’re working at it and hopefully we recover this year.

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“If Winnipeggers enjoy the nighttime snow maze activity, we’ve got lights on out there, we’ve got the snow bar, we’ve got some live music. … The snow bar is twice as big as it was before.”

Masse said that revenues are down about 50 per cent relative to a normal year, and that the on-site restaurant had to be closed. But he added that there’s been a lot of work put into the attraction and that he hopes Winnipeggers will still make the trip.

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The snow maze, he said, is a lot different from its summertime equivalent, A Maze in Corn.

“The corn maze. .. I get out there and I mow in through the corn, and voila: we have a maze.

“This snow maze is 20 people, 10 artists, working at it for about two months. About $300 to 400 a day on diesel fuel is what we’re burning just to put this thing together. ”

Click to play video: 'The Forks Nestaweya River Trail closed for season'

The Forks Nestaweya River Trail closed for season

While Masse and the snow maze are trying to roll with the punches and stay open despite the weather, another popular outdoor activity has thrown in the towel completely.

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The iconic Nestaweya River Trail at The Forks, which had its latest-ever opening day Jan. 25, officially closed for the season Wednesday, making it the shortest season in its history with the exception of a pandemic-related closure in 2020.

Lana Bakun, co-owner of Kendrick’s Outdoor Adventures, a stand that rents out ice bikes and other adventure equipment at The Forks, told 680 CJOB’s The News Wednesday that the river trail usually results in six-to-eight weeks of business. This year, it’s only been able to operate for a paltry 12 hours.

“The river trail at the Forks, it’s been the toughest year yet. The team at The Forks … they tried, we tried. They work hard out there and so do we,” Bakun said.

“We were really ready for winter on the trail, with more equipment and a great team ready to work, so we are really ready for next winter.”

Bakun said that she feels for all of the businesses that rely on the trail for revenue each winter, and that she hopes Winnipeggers will come out in the summer to rent canoes, kayaks and pedal boats at Fort Whyte.

Click to play video: 'Where is winter?'

Where is winter?


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