This past winter’s Christmas light contest was a beautiful sightseeing opportunity in Virden. Homes and businesses decorated just a little beyond the usual. I loved it! However, the 13 Ways Inc. Strategic Plan for the Town of Virden pointed out an unfortunate hole in the winter events line-up. Although Tundra Oil & Gas Place is an awesome venue where the MJHL Oil Capitals and other sports thrive, he said a town needs regular street/outdoor events all season long.
Let’s imagine that he’s right. Now how do we do it in this part of Canada where winter reigns for six months of the year?
Well, first of all, here’s a basic requirement – make the downtown easy to drive, park and walk in the winter.
One impediment to enjoying winter in any town is when the streets are rutty with snow. First, it’s deep, then, packed and rut-ridden. We cringe for our vehicle’s suspension and small cars can lose low-hanging important parts. Driving in Virden in winter on some streets can be as irritating as a fingernail on the chalkboard.
I realize this is a huge investment, and this extended winter season was challenging. But I cannot shake the feeling that it's something that needs more attention.
It surprised me that Victoria Park was not mentioned in the Strategic Plan presentation Monday evening, although Griffith noted that Virden needs to further develop the amazing potential of the walking path. So true, and there’s a group that has begun that work. Virden’s creek system brings interesting relief and a piece of nature right into town.
But, back to the park. It’s a treasure both winter and summer. Plowed walkways make this a treed winter wonderland. But again, there’s the potential for a light display that could make it a downtown minifestival destination. Just think, the Easter Egg Hunt this year looked absolutely fabulous!
Somehow the Farmers’ Market site seems to be a cold, wind-blown area, both winter and summer. That is so sad because, in other ways, the location is just right. What would help? A fence? Landscaping? A windrow of large and small trees? This protection would add appeal to a charming summer market. In winter, with some shelter, the outdoor skating oval would be more fun too.
What about bringing huskies to town? Active outdoorsy lady, Laurel Lamb, reported she had a blast dog sledding near Gimli this past winter.
If not huskies, what about a sleigh and horses? Add hot chocolate, specials at the local eateries, skating on the oval and if there are snowdrifts to play with, invite someone to commandeer an igloo building bee. Voila!
The nagging question is always, who is going to take the lead on good ideas? Who is going to put them into action? And what about the funds?
This is where a business group (aka chamber of commerce) comes in. The dollar rewards to town businesses might seem light in the short term, but in the long run, I think Doug Griffiths would say the value is real.