Paul Eldon wants to provide good skiing and snowshoeing for people who want to enjoy the outdoors in the area this winter season.
Eldon co-owner with his wife Claire of Elliot Lake’s 108 Lifestyle and Sporting Goods and an avid skier wanted to purchase a specialized groomer for trails around Elliot Lake to open up outdoor activities to more residents.
He took his idea to Elliot Lake Retirement Living seeking the $10,000 needed to purchase a SnowDog groomer and the group approved. He took possession of the SnowDog on Wednesday from local business G.R. Enterprises which specializes in outdoor equipment sales and maintenance.
Since 2018, Elliot Lake Retirement Living has donated about $150,000 to 31 community organizations, schools, and groups under its Community Grant Program with the intention to invest in activities, programs, projects, and individuals that help make Elliot Lake people want to live, retire to and invest in. This year’s donation was $29,840 for nine projects with Eldon’s request receiving the largest donation.
The SnowDog includes a track groomer at the front operated from a sled and seat behind and different accessories at the rear. Eldon opted for an attachment sled to provide a flat track for people who want to hike or snowshoe and another that creates two tracks for skiers.
G.R. Enterprises owner Guy Riopel who runs the business with Carol Pollock said the SnowDog is built in Russia and over the past several years has seen modifications to make it easier and more convenient to operate.
Riopel, who has been operating a business in Elliot Lake for 30 years, has been selling the equipment for about three years as it is growing in popularity.
“They are just now becoming really popular,” Riopel said. “Once you get to feel them out people see what they do.”
Getting the equipment from the supplier has been difficult due to COVID-19. Riopel expects demand will increase as he gets more SnowDogs in stock.
“He’s a dealer and I thought heck we have a dealer right here in Elliot Lake,” Eldon said which made the donation application complete because it included a local business as part of the plan.
He expects operation of the SnowDog will be dealt with by two other people and said fundraising will help offset the cost of gas and maintenance. Any servicing will be done by G.R. Enterprises.
Eldon said the plan is to groom trails on easy access lakes like Porridge and Horne and possibly parts of Elliot Lake and a portion of trail at Mt. Dufour Ski Hill.