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'Worst it's ever been': Warm winter weather impacting outdoor activities

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The warmer than usual weather has hurt the winter sports industry and recreational athletes.

"This year and last year have been pretty tough, just with the random warm spells,” said Jake Carman, a volunteer for the George Lippert Park rink in Kitchener.

He's part of a five to six member team of community volunteers that regularly come out and work on the local rink, while others volunteer when they can. Water needs to be put down a few times a day for about an hour and a half, about three to four days in a row before enough ice has built up to skate on.

“When you have that frontage, if it takes a week or two to get your rink in operational state and you can see its cold now, but two weeks from now it's going to rain again, it makes motivation a bit tough," Carman explained.

He said the rink only opened for two or three days last year, but insists the hours of work and planning is still worth it.

"On the flip side, when we see those new skaters learning that new hobby or people going and enjoying time with friends outside, that's kind of what pays off really."

The weather is expected to take a dip on Wednesday, but despite this, rink volunteers don’t plan on building up the ice again this season.

They said they'll be back next winter and are also open to having extra help from anyone that wants to volunteer next season.

Lakes remain unfrozen

Warm weather has also kept local lakes from freezing and ice fishers on the shore. The Grand River Conservation Authority said it has not offered any ice fishing this winter because the weather has not been cold enough.

“There hasn’t really been much of one. Unless you’re willing to drive, I don’t know, two plus hours one way. There’s not really a whole lot happening down this way for us this year unfortunately,” Christina Niergarth, a spokesperson for KWC Bassmasters, said.

Niergarth added that some rivers remain open for non-ice fishing. While not all members enjoy ice fishing, it’s been tough for the ones that do.

“With the way things have been going this season, we haven’t really gotten to get out too much. We have actually gotten out once this year, and I’m not sure if any other members have gotten out much either,” Niergarth said.

Despite the lack of an ice fishing season, KWC Bassmasters will have a booth at the Woodstock Made in Canada Tackle Show and Swap Meet on Sunday for anyone interested in checking them out.

Slow sales for power sports dealers

For those who sell equipment for the winter, it’s also been a slog.

"32 years, this is the worst it's ever been for us," said Randy Kuchma of President of Tri-City Cycle and Sport.

Winter sales at the Waterloo business usually start around October or November. Kuchma said December is typically good for sales, but this year its been lacking, along with sales of clothing, oils and drive belts.

"We still sold almost as many as last year but we did get a lot of people that dropped out of purchasing the lower-end units, lower-priced units and stuff like that. So we did lose a bunch of sales," Kuchma said. "We've had no snow from the west to the east down to the south, down in Minnesota. Polaris hasn't even had any snow, so it's been bad for everybody."

Tri-City Cycle and Sport is financially okay, but have accepted the lack of snow and are already focusing on selling ATVs, motorcycles and side-by-sides.

"You can't stop sitting here waiting for it, because I don't think it's going to happen this year," said Kuchma.

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