The cold war is on: Invermere, B.C., is aiming to have what it says will be the world's largest skating rink, adding a third player to the rivalry between Winnipeg and Ottawa, which make the same claim.
The town is going to try to flood and maintain a 17-kilometre track around Lake Windermere, next to the Alberta border in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and a beautiful place to go for a long skate.
Currently, the Whiteway, as it's called, is five metres wide. If that is doubled to 10 metres wide, the skating area would be larger than the Rideau Canal — "in essence, giving us the largest maintained ice surface on the planet," says backer Dave McGrath.
The organizers want to get into the Guinness World Records book for the longest and largest maintained ice surface.
"We're not naive to the work that's going to go into it, but with the community behind us, we're just fired up about it," says McGrath.
This holiday season, volunteers are working shovels and hoses in an attempt to get the ice surface cleared — no small task.
Ottawa and Winnipeg already argue over the distinction, citing the Rideau Canal and Assiniboine River respectively. Both are natural and maintained in winter for long skates.
Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft has let them both know there's now a new challenger.
"We just sent letters off to both the Ottawa and Winnipeg city councils, and we're officially challenging them and letting them know of our intentions.… The cold war is on."
It will take a lot of work, but people in Invermere hope to be ready early in the new year for a surveyor to check out their ice and be ready for the Guinness judges.