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They are lapping up this new outdoor track

July 7, 2021

Runners and walkers test out the new outdoor tracks at Voisey’s Bay. Photo: Vale Archive

A simple walk outside can refresh your spirit and restore your mood. Darrell Reid, Camp and Power Plant supervisor at Voisey’s Bay, understands that very well, and it’s one of the reasons he and some colleagues spearheaded an initiative to create an outdoor walking and running track at the site.

“Mental and physical health go hand in hand,” said Darrell. “Exercise can give you a sense of well-being and help you become more positive and energetic while you disconnect from work.” 

It’s a great addition to our recreation facilities.

Until now, Voisey’s Bay employees were restricted from outdoor activities by the remoteness of the fly-in/fly-out site, and the threat of black bears and other wildlife. “There is an abundance of wildlife in this area, and we have safety controls in place to prevent human interaction to protect both the employees and the natural habitat of the wildlife.”

Tracking progress

An aerial view of the new outdoor walking and running tracks at Voisey’s Bay. The centre space may become a seating area with trees or a spot for other activities. Photo: Vale Archive

As of June 1, walkers and runners can stretch their legs safely on a new outdoor running track and two walking tracks. The tracks, which are crushed stone on a gravel base, each measure 200 metres per lap and are two metres apart. They are nestled into a previously unused 232-square-metre area bordered by accommodation buildings and protected by a 3.6- by 7.3-metre bear gate.

“It’s a great addition to our recreation facilities,” said Darrell, who noted that the number of employees at the site has tripled since the recommencement of the Voisey’s Bay Mine Expansion Project in 2018. 

Plans are under way to also reimagine the currently empty central area. “The recreation coordinators are brainstorming possible ideas like a horseshoe spot or outdoor weights,” said Darrell. “This is a work in progress right now. Lots of ideas out there on how to develop this area.”

To meet COVID-19 camp segregation protocols, the tracks are open on odd-numbered days for the North Mine and even-numbered days for the South Mine, as well as physical distancing and masks. The track can be accessed in daylight hours from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Prior to the track, our Voisey’s Bay colleagues were going on group walks at the three-kilometre airstrip but this involved logistics like waiting for others and bussing out to the strip. “That was a great option,” said Darrell, “but now employees have the convenience of just putting on their runners, leaving their room and going for a walk when they’ve finished their shift.”

Taking steps forward

Darrell Reid in front of the new bear gate, designed to discourage any black bears from dropping by for a run. Photo: Vale Archive

Darrell, who’s been with the company since 2016, first initiated the project about a year ago and credits support across the board for helping it become a reality. Our company was fully behind the initiative, as Vale believes in supporting the physical and mental health and wellness of everyone on site. 

“There was support from all departments – Safety, Engineering, Mining, and more,” he said. “From approvals to funding, there was cooperation from all areas, which was great.”

Part of the bear gate is proudly painted for Pride. Photo: Vale Archive

The reaction from employees has also been overwhelmingly positive, with 25 people using the track on opening day, and 30 on the second day. Currently, a maximum of 40 people can use the space at any one time, for an hour per person and all COVID-19 safety protocols are to be followed at all times.

“The feedback I’m getting is very positive,” he said. “Everyone is enjoying the freedom of being able to go outside after work and on a warm evening, in a T-shirt, with the sun shining, breathe in the crisp air as you go for a stroll or a run.” 


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