Skating on Retention Ponds

Residents have been asking about skating on retention ponds. The beautiful ponds/lakes behind our homes or near neighbourhood parks.

Please read this carefully:
There are 44 retention ponds in the Waverley West Ward. These ponds are part of the land drainage system for Southwest Winnipeg.
These ponds capture rain, street runoffs, water-main breaks and through an interconnected maze of underground pipes, the water is drained into the Red River at St Norbert, just north of the St Norbert Community Center.

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 on the ponds is not as certain as ice that forms on natural water bodies. It’s constantly changing as runoff and drainage water flows through the ponds all year. Retention ponds are not safe to use for winter recreation activities. (To be frank-it terrifies me to see people on retention ponds)Ice conditions can change quickly and without warning, creating an extreme, hidden hazard.The City does not allow skating rinks to be constructed on the retention ponds.
  • Though- in my 6 yrs as Councillor, I have never heard of anyone receiving a ticket/fine for building a rink on a pond. The water & waste department is responsible for enforcement activities related to the ponds. Many of these ponds are tucked away behind homes and are not visible.
  • This year, due to Covid-there are many more by-law enforcement folks roving around. I have no idea if they will make the effort to get on the pathways to check out the retention ponds tucked behind homes – to see if there are skating rinks & if people from different households are skating on them. I don’t know how they prioritize Covid enforcement.Because of Provincial Health / Covid restrictions – the City is not building any skating rinks, at Community Centres or the small ones in parks. Because of this I expect the desire to build rinks on the retention ponds will be even more elevated.I have three boys. They are 18yrs old now (triplets). Please know I really really understand the importance of having kids ‘burning off energy’.In summary:
  • Recreational activities on retention ponds can be very dangerous.
  • The City does not allow rinks to be constructed on retention ponds.I want to share this also because many people may not be aware of how Winnipeg’s overland drainage works.
  • The beautiful ponds/lakes behind people’s homes are also a critical piece of the City’s water drainage system.Covid is throwing some real wrenches into our winter. Please always think safety.

Thank you CTV for covering this important issue: