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A Winter Toboggan Run Is In The Works


The idea of a toboggan run in Dauphin has been around for about a decade.

Now, thanks in part to a $115,000 donation from Dauphin Consumers Co-op, the toboggan run will become a reality.

Stacey Penner, toboggan run project lead, has been dreaming and putting the idea together in her head for about two years now.

“Last year, I opened up an application for Co-op Community Spaces, felt no direction or confidence in the matter, left it half filled out, walked away from it and thought I’d take the year to think about it,” she said.

Over the course of that year, Penner developed some partnerships and now feels like the project snowballed enough that this was the right year to go ahead and apply for funding from Co-op.

“With a nudge from our local Co-op and Joan Chetyrbok, I went ahead and did it. Within 24 hours, I had a support letter from mayor Dowhan. Dauphin Rec. Services agreed to take on responsibility for the project. And other partners came together really, really quickly to support my application,” she said.

The project committee so far consists of Penner, Dauphin Recreation Services assistant general manager Lindsey Kyle, grant co-chair Larry Budzinski and Kathy Bellemare, who joined the committee for support in areas such as city bylaws and city knowledge that will support the committee in planning for the facility.

“So we have a small, but critical group. And we have a strong funding plan of action and we are currently pursuing three organization locally that we want to team up and partner with to make this space really special,” Penner said.

Penner added they have applied for two other major grants that they are waiting to hear about. “I think over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how the funding aspects unravel with patience,” she said. “Eventually, we’d like to open it up to the community for people that want to contribute, organizations and businesses that want to have a hand in this, as well.”

Right now the focus is on the toboggan run itself, with an eye to opening it possibly by January 2022.

“So we have hired Scatliff+Miller+Murray from Winnipeg. Our local project manager works for them, because he was responsible for the North Gate Trails and has a hand in that. So he’s moved to Dauphin since then, encompassed the Dauphin lifestyle and loves Dauphin. So the fact that we have a local representative from this architecture company helping us support this is really exciting,” Penner stated.

Penner added they have some ideas in mind to expand the facility beyond a toboggan run.

“We are definitely looking at taking this in phases. Phase one will be the toboggan run. And then, ideally, we would like phase two and three to unravel, but we’re going to take it one phase at a time at this point,” she said.

The committee wants to make the facility open for anyone to use.

“We want people who don’t have a vehicle necessarily to access the awesomeness of physical education. So putting it central, right in the middle of our town was important to us,” Penner said.

It was important to the committee to build something natural. With that in mind, they received a commitment from Vermillion Growers to donate the fill for a hill they plan to build.

“And then we will have offshoots of different levels of challenges of toboggan runs beyond that."

“Also it’s in the forefront of our mind to keep accessibility for all for this toboggan run an option. So we’ve had discussions with our architect over what that could look like, as well,” she said.

Kyle said DRS is always researching its own grants and finding projects they want to start within the community.

“But this one was unique in the sense that there were community members that approached us at Dauphin Rec. Services about the possibility of forming a partnership to build this toboggan run,” she said. “So at a recreation level, we know that free recreation is absolutely something that is needed in our community, as well as being accessible. So we jumped on the opportunity. And here we are. We’ve now been awarded the Co-op Community Spaces grant and our project is now off and running. So we’re thrilled to get going.”

The exact location of the toboggan run has not yet been decided, other than it will be located on the DMCC grounds.

“It’s just that we’re finalizing a few locations and then we’ll make a decision on the exact location in the coming weeks,” Kyle said.

The funding campaign is just getting started, Kyle said, adding they have applied for numerous grants and have been vocal in getting opportunities for sponsorship and naming rights to a few groups in Dauphin.

“So we just basically started, so we’re going to take off from there and see where things happen in the next couple of months,” she said, adding she hopes Dauphin and surrounding area gets excited about this project. “It’s something that we can do in the winter months when we know it’s -30C, -40C. And, of course, with us just living the last 18 months of this pandemic, it’s just an exciting opportunity. It’s free. It’s going to be accessible. It’s going to be in a location that everyone can come to. We’re thrilled to do this and we look forward to having a great structure for years to come.”

Dauphin Consumers Co-op general manager Lorne Eiffert said they are excited to partner with DRS on the project.

“We are so excited to partner with Dauphin Recreation Services through the Co-op Community Spaces program. The last 15 months have been very challenging and it’s such an honour for our Co-op to contribute to creating a space for residents to safely come back together,” he said. “Investing in our community is central to our Co-op. It brings our vision to life, to enrich the life of our communities. Partnering with community groups on important projects like this is a natural fit. We are creating beautiful spaces for our community to enjoy now and for years to come.”

Penner feels society in general deserves great things as it shifts towards a post-pandemic society and mentality.

“That’s why I really like the timing of this grant and this presentation and this project. Because we need to undo the damage that COVID has done to us as a society, whether it is physically or mentally. I’m a big believer in nature and getting outside and fresh air and physical activity. And I think this project is perfect to combat those negative effects we’ve sustained over the last couple of years,” she said.

Doug Zywina