Twas the season to be jolly … if digging through the snow made your jingle bells jangle!
The 2017-2018 Holiday Season will go down in the books as one of the coldest, snow filled events in quite some time.
It stands to reason that a little snow puts shoppers in to the Christmas Spirit, and initial indications from downtown merchants back that theory up as sales and foot traffic picked up considerably after our first measurable snowfall hit the ground and stuck around early in December.
Collingwood Downtown BIA General Manager Susan Nicholson says the warm start to the Christmas shopping season was quickly replaced with winter-like conditions.
“After a rather warm start to the season, winter arrived with a welcome – and continuous – snowfall, that allowed the resorts to open early and attract winter sports enthusiasts to our region. Many of them enjoyed the downtown as they did their last minute holiday shopping and took breaks at our many cafes and restaurants. Our region’s residents and visitors also took in the fun at the Frozen in Time Festival between Christmas and New Year’s. The rest of the season will be strong as the Christmas break continues this first week in January.”
Downtown BIA Chairperson Penny Skelton agrees, saying the downtown streets were alive with activity throughout December.
“With Christmas falling on a Monday in 2017 everyone planned to be here for the holidays. When the cold weather and snow began everyone got into the spirit- shopping for presents, groceries, spirits , dining with friends and colleagues . Downtown was buzzing with activity. Early reports from merchants indicate Christmas sales were up over last season.”
Skelton says the consistent cold weather and ongoing snowfalls did pose a few challenges.
“Cold weather and more snow created some challenges for parking of vehicles but did not deter thousands of locals and visitors from strolling throughout the downtown to enjoy over 25 ice sculptures featured during Frozen in Time Festival immediately following Christmas. Big hit this year was the addition of a 40 foot ice slide through the middle of the Winter Wonderland on Simcoe Street. Outdoor family fun at its finest. A wonderful old fashioned winter to help us enjoy the Christmas season!”
The Collingwood Frozen in Time Festival hit a home run this year thanks to an expanded list of activities and Mother Nature’s generous gift of cold weather, attracting large crowds to the downtown shopping district for a successful three day run.
Environment Canada issued Extreme Cold Weather Warnings day after day, causing the cancellation of most outdoor New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout our region and across the country.
In an online article on Tuesday January 2nd, the CBC quoted experts as stating that it is unusual for so much of the country facing such extreme weather at the same time. The article quoted Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada, David Phillips, as saying the cold weather has a grip on many regions. “We know the cold air at this time of year has staying power.”
Well, we already figured that out here in Collingwood. It has been quite a frosty end to 2017 and beginning to 2018.
Now that New Year’s Eve celebrations have passed and our town returns to a regular routine, Collingwood works crews are faced with the daunting task of clearing the downtown streets of all of that snow.
Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper told us just before Christmas that the Town of Collingwood budgets for a few overnight snow removal sessions from the downtown streets throughout the winter, adding that a heavy snowstorm before the close of the calendar year would impact final budget numbers.
“Snow removal is an area that could be costly or not. Clearing off the main street or taking snow from parking lots is an added cost and an unknown at this time.”
Cooper estimates an overnight snow removal operation in downtown Collingwood can cost up to $20,000.00.
Clearing the downtown streets has been a daily task, often a task to be repeated throughout each day, throughout the Holiday Season
However, we live in snow country, and this is the type of weather that drives our winter tourism numbers over and above expectations. Bundle up and enjoy!