TRCA reminds visitors this winter: stay off the ice

by W. Andrew Powell

This winter in Ontario we’re facing numerous COVID precautions, and at the same time the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) wants to make everyone aware that it’s not safe to go out on any lakes or other bodies of water this season.

Because of the weather, and the fact that conditions have not been cold enough to maintain ice thickness, the TRCA is warning visitors not to go out on ice.

“With unusually mild weather and increased interest from citizens on recreating and exercising on public lands during the COVID pandemic, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is reminding residents to stay off of lakes, rivers, reservoirs, ponds, and stormwater facilities, as the ice may not be safe,” the organization said in a recent press release.

“With many people enjoying the great outdoors this year more than ever, TRCA reminds all nature seekers to be extremely cautious when outside. Even if the weather has been cold, other factors such as water flow, fluctuating water levels and snow on the ice, can contribute to unsafe conditions. Slippery and unstable streambanks and extremely cold-water temperatures can also lead to dangerous conditions close to any body of water. In addition, even if the ice at the water’s edge seems safe, it can get weaker further out.”

TRCA conservation areas, parks, and properties include Albion Hills, Altona Forest, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Bond Lake, Boyd Conservation Park, Boyd North and Glassco Park, Bruce’s Mill, Glen Haffy, Heart Lake, Tommy Thompson Park, and many others.

TRCA also noted that they don’t maintain or monitor ice, so using the ice at any of their conservation areas is not permitted.

TRCA also offered some key safety tips:

  • Keep family and pets away from the edges of all bodies of water.
  • Avoid all recreational activities including skating, snowshoeing and skiing in or around water, especially near ice jams or ice-covered water bodies.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk on iced-covered water bodies
  • Stormwater ponds/facilities were not built for ice skating. Water levels on these ponds can change due to road salt, snow melt and changing temperatures causing cracks and dangerously thin ice.
  • Avoid walking close to/across riverbanks and ice-covered water to prevent falling through. River banks can become unstable in the spring due to snowmelt and erosion.
  • Rescuing another person or a pet from ice is dangerous. If you see anyone that has fallen through the ice call 911 for help immediately.

TRCA is part of the 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario, and they note that more than five million people live within TRCA-managed watersheds within Toronto, Markham and Vaughan.

Image courtesy of TRCA.

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