March 3rd, 2024

Ski and snowshoe rentals halted at Police Point Park

By Medicine Hat News on January 30, 2024.

The Interpretive Centre will no longer be renting cross-country skis, boots and snowshoes to the public because of ageing equipment and high insurance costs. Marty Drut shows off a pair of snowshoes that were available to rent at the Medicine Hat Nature Centre in this January 2016 file photo.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

Gliding the snowy trails on a pair on cross-country skis through Police Point Park will become more difficult for outdoor enthusiasts who don’t own their own gear.

Ageing equipment and the rising cost of insurance has led the Interpretive Centre to make the difficult decision to halt the rentals of cross-country skis, boots and snowshoes.

Phil Horch, president of the Grassland Naturalists, who oversees the Interpretive Centre, tells the News the nature club took over the rentals from the city when it was formed 20 years ago.

Horch says over the past two years liability costs to use the aging equipment have become too expensive to afford.

“Insurance has become a major expense for I think all nonprofit societies. And so it’s our biggest annual cost each year,” says Phil Horch, president of Grasslands Naturalists.

The nature club is also unable to afford the purchase of new equipment that would cost between $35,000 and $40,000, leaving no choice but to suspend rentals.

However Horch says the nature club is in talks with the city to explore options to return cross-county ski and snowshoe rentals to the park.

But in order for that to happen the nature club would have to find affordable insurance for renting sporting equipment.

“We hope so because part of our mandate is to encourage people to take part in these kinds of activities. And people who have their own equipment are still welcome to do it at Police Point Park, and if we can work it out for the future, we’ll certainly find a way,” says Horch.

Horch says the rental program aligns with the Grasslands Naturalists’ mandate to encourage residents to learn, explore and protect the natural habitat.

“It was one that a lot of people appreciated. And we’ve had some people express regret that this was happening,” says Horch.

The nature club told the News the remaining usable equipment has been sold to members of the public.

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