Lacombe Lake opens to skaters
Residents flock to favourite spot
By: Cory Hare
| Posted: Friday, Dec 27, 2013 03:30 pm
After being designated off-limits most of last winter and throughout the extended stretch of cold weather leading up to Christmas, Lacombe Lake opened to skaters on Dec. 24.
The city’s public works department started clearing snow at 6 a.m. that day and had a rink ready by 11 o’clock, said operations supervisor Stephen Schlese.
“It’s a huge win for us,” he said. “It’s something that the residents definitely look forward to skating on every year.”
A deep blanket of snow delayed the formation of thick ice despite a healthy helping of severely cold weather this fall.
“Snow acts as an insulator on the ice surface and it’s really tough for the ice to get built up,” Schlese said.
Personnel from public works and the fire department took some ice measurements last Sunday, finding a solid 11 to 12 inches, enough to safely bear the 3,000-pound weight of a small piece of snow-clearing equipment.
After a skating area was cleared on Tuesday, it didn’t take long for area residents to notice and take to the ice.
“We didn’t even have it posted. There were 25 people out there already,” Schlese said. “News gets around quickly, I guess.”
The lake was unsafe for skating most of last winter because a vandal chopped several large holes into the ice surface just before Christmas.
“It’s just fantastic that people can go out there in this warm weather and enjoy being out there,” Schlese said.
With a portion of the lake’s surface now exposed, the ice will grow steadily thicker as the winter progresses, he said.
City crews maintain 26 other outdoor rinks, which are all open for skating. Rinks generally remain open until the end of February.
The city advises residents to stay off the river, lakes and ponds located throughout St. Albert.
The Sturgeon River has many outfalls along its length that receive runoff from city streets, as do the various stormwater ponds in the city.
“We advise residents to stay off those as well just because they’re an unstable water source,” Schlese said. “It might be thick in one spot and in another place it could be an inch thick.”
Information on ice conditions and safety is available at http://www.stalbert.ca/outdoorrinks.