Recently, our office has fielded many questions about skating on retention ponds, the beautiful ponds behind our homes or near neighbourhood parks. Retention ponds are not safe to use for winter recreation activities as they do not freeze over like natural water bodies.
What you need to know:
Retention ponds are part of the land drainage system for Southwest Winnipeg. These ponds capture rain, street runoffs, and water-main breaks using an interconnected maze of underground pipes, the water is drained into the Red River
Here is what happens during the winter:
- Water from early snowmelts or nearby water main breaks drains into these ponds.
- The winter runoff is often mixed with street salts that can cause the ice to MELT and THIN quickly.
- The water enters the pond underneath the ice, resulting in a thinning of the ice that can’t be seen from the surface.
- Ice thickness constantly changing as runoff and drainage water flows through the ponds all year.
- Ice conditions can change quickly and without warning, creating an extreme, hidden hazard.
Because of the hazard the City does not allow skating rinks to be constructed on the retention ponds. In a winter where we are all looking for ways to stay active, it is important to stay safe.