While the lack of snow this winter has been a blessing for some, snowshoers and cross-country skiers are feeling down on their luck.
According to Environment Canada, the average snowfall in Halifax from November to January is usually around 81 cm. So far, Halifax has only seen about 18 cm, breaking records for the lowest snowfall since Environment Canada started recording amounts at the airport in 1953.
“It’s a shame, really,” said Janet Barlow, executive director of Hike Nova Scotia. “Enthusiasm around snowshoeing is really high; people love the idea of it.”
Hike Nova Scotia works with groups across the province to organize a variety of outdoor activities. Barlow said their most popular is a series of guided snowshoe tours, which have repeatedly been cancelled due to the lack of snow.
Barlow said they had planned to have over 60 hikes. In January, 13 snowshoe tours were scheduled; two were postponed and one was cancelled. Already this month, three of eight hikes were postponed and two were cancelled.
“Nova Scotia is a coastal community, and when you’re near the water it’s really hit or miss on whether you’re going to have snow or rain,” Barlow said. “And you can’t snowshoe in the rain.”
The Mountain Equipment Co-op on Granville Street has seen a big decrease in snowshoe rentals this winter compared to last season.
“It’s very frustrating from both an activity perspective but also from a retail perspective,” said Clifton Pratt, events co-ordinator at MEC. “We want to get people outdoors, but it’s kind of hard to do that when there’s no snow to go play in.”
Pratt and Barlow both love to cross-country ski, but with the weather as it is, they’ve had to find parts of the province with more snow, like the Annapolis Valley or Antigonish.
“You always hear people say, ‘oh we don’t have winters like we used to,’ and it’s true,” said Barlow. “For me, I remember enjoying the snow much more when I was a kid because there was more of it back then.”