Wacky weather has its ups and downs

“We love ‘La Nina’! The [weather’s] beautiful, unbelievable!”
Those words summed up how Brady Hupet and his buddies felt after teeing off at Kitchen Creek Golf Course yesterday afternoon, setting personal records for the latest “out of season” golf game they’d ever played.
With temperatures hitting almost four C (40 F), Hupet–along with Bob Armit, Tom Foley, Dennis Helder, and Ron Mondor–did all 18 holes.
“This is the first time I’ve opened [the golf course] up in December in the six years I’ve been here,” club pro Gord Workum noted yesterday from the pro shop, which is open this week and next for shoppers with golfers on their lists.
“The weather is definitely unusual and people will come and hit the ball around just so they can say ‘I played golf [in December],’” he added.
But the lack of snow and above normal temperatures hasn’t been a bonus only for golfers. Local contractors also are taking advantage of the weather.
Exterior work on siding, soffits, and window replacements have been extended well beyond the norm, said Jeanne Kaun, manager for Ed Kaun
and Sons here.
“Business is great, marvelous,” she noted Monday. “Now people are thinking about that long-left garage they’ve been meaning to finish.
“In fact, we started on a new house last week, dug and poured the footings, and there was absolutely no frost in the ground,” she added.
“We’re still giving ’er!” echoed Angela DeGagné of D&A Construction. “We’re still doing exterior renovations and we’re usually shut down just before Christmas.
“People are having windows put in and usually this time of year nobody wants to open up a hole and let the cold in,” she reasoned.
Kaun said the unusual weather also has played a hand in construction of the new airport terminal. “The nice weather even allowed us to do some rough landscaping and all we have left is the seeding in the spring,” she remarked.
“The weather has basically sped things up,” agreed Bruce Spottiswood, Superintendent of Works (Facilities), noting mild temperatures had helped reduce time and cost of the terminal project.
“[For] all the brick work on the outside, we were going to hoard that all in to heat it but we never had to,” he noted. “It would have taken twice as long to [brick] but it only took two and a half days.”
< *c>Retailers hurting
Of course, not everyone is happy with Mother Nature. The wacky weather has stalled winter and holiday gift sales at some local stores which typically depend on Ol’ Man Winter to boost business at this time of year.
“It’s made all the difference,” said Murray Cawston, a salesman at Badiuk Equipment, referring to the impact the weather has on snowmobile sales.
“Until it snows–and it will–no one will buy,” he added.
Winter sales at DeGagné Equipment in Emo were equally sparse while Pinewood Sports was unavailable for comment.
Terry Martinson, co-owner of Mar-Te Sporting Goods on Scott Street, also admitted business was feeling the pinch from winter’s snail pace, as did Canadian Tire owner Ray Engelbertink.
Local merchants who deal in winter inventory made their choices for stock some six to eight months ago, expecting full well to see the “white stuff” piling up by now.
“I think we’re feeling the same effect as everybody else. It’s not very cold and people aren’t buying cold weather gear,” said Martinson.
“I love this kind of weather but I have 200 winter parkas [here] that I haven’t sold yet,” he added. “But there’s nothing we can do about it, to be perfectly frank.”
Engelbertink said exterior Christmas lighting decorations had seen a big jump over last year but other winter-related stock wasn’t going out the door as he had anticipated.
“One good thing about no snow is that everybody is having a lot more fun decorating [but] if it doesn’t snow, a lot of [inventory] will be carried over,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Janis Lesko of “Cripes It’s a Castle” here suspected the lack of snow has put a damper on the usual warm and fuzzy feeling of the holidays–an issue she’s relayed on to a higher power.
“I suspect [no snow] is having its effect and I think spirit is lacking–all my customers are saying that,” she noted. “I think a little bit of white fluffy snow would encourage spirit and therefore encourage a few more sales.
“I’ve talked to the ‘man upstairs’ and he’s not answering so what can you do?” she chuckled.