Pincher Creek’s recreation office and municipal library are once again offering residents the chance to borrow snowshoes and cross-country skis free of charge through their lending program.
The program is intended as a cost-effective way for community members to get outside and get active this winter.
The idea took shape five years ago when Rhonda Oczkowski, Pincher Creek’s recreation programmer, applied for the Choose Well grant. With the funds, the original pairs of snowshoes and cross-country skis were purchased, and since then, the inventory has continued to grow annually with the popularity of the initiative.
“We wanted to make sure that this program is accessible to everyone, so the program is free and available for anyone to come in and borrow equipment,” says Rhonda.
Prior to last year, the recreation department and library struggled with accommodating everyone that was interested in taking advantage of the loan pool. Adult-sized cross-country skis in particular were often unavailable due to the limited number of sets.
To navigate this issue, the recreation office and library partnered with Syncline Castle Trails Association, also known as SCaT, to expand upon the lending program, while promoting the Syncline Trail Network.
With money acquired through the Return to Play grant, SCaT was able to purchase and donate 30 pairs of adult cross-country skis and poles to the program, along with 45 pairs of adult-sized boots. According to Rhonda, the association has made an additional donation of skis and skiing equipment this year to fill sizing holes found in the lending initiative last year.
“Last year, we were running out of larger ski boots and equipment for adults, so now we’ve filled that gap and I think we’ve covered our bases in terms of sizing,” she says.
While the hope is to avoid a lack of equipment to lend out, Rhonda notes that the issue of not having enough equipment does suggest that the program is a popular one that is getting residents outdoors and active.
To borrow equipment, you need to either have a library card or sign up at the library for an equipment rental card. A library membership costs $10, while the equipment rental card is free of charge. Once you have one of the cards, you can simply head to the library, identify what size of equipment you need, rent it and be on your way.
Once you’ve rented the equipment, you may hold onto it for up to one week before returning it to the library.
Previously, there was no need for a library membership or rental card. The change was made to alleviate the manual work library staff had to do to keep tabs on rentals.
According to Rhonda, the recreation department has a few exciting plans coming up regarding skiing and snowshoeing, including pop-up lessons for novices and guided snowshoe/cross country skiing tours. Those interested are encouraged to keep an eye on Pincher Creek recreation’s Facebook page for updates and information.
For more information about the lending program, you can contact the library at 403-627-3813 or by email.