The city and fire department are warning residents to stay off of all natural ice surfaces this week after a report of people on one pond.
Fire prevention and safety officer for St. Albert Fire Services, Les David Mroz, said the department had one report of people on an unsafe ice surface in the city during the warm weather this week.
“Unfortunately it does happen that people and their curiosity go out on the ice surfaces for whatever reason,” Mroz said.
Mroz said that he wasn’t sure what kind of water body the people were on this week but the weather was too warm for natural ice to support any people.
Typically Mroz said that the fire department usually doesn’t do ice rescues until the springtime when the ice breaks up due to the warmer weather.
Mroz said that there are generally more people out and about in the spring because they have cabin fever and want to enjoy the warmer weather.
Although stormwater ponds can look safe, Mroz said that stormwater ponds are dangerous.
“There is always that movement and potential contaminants. If you think of the products that go on our road surfaces and then get into these ponds. It doesn’t always allow the ice to form up as solid as it does in the natural areas,” Mroz said.
So far this winter season they haven’t had any reports of ice rescues but last spring the city had four ice rescues that happened in a three-day period.
Duncan MacIver was walking his French bulldog Cosmo on a Saturday afternoon when the dog wandered out onto the ice and fell through. CTV camera crews were at the scene, filming a segment about ice safety, and captured MacIver’s rescue. Since then the video has been shared around the world.
On the same day just hours earlier a dog wandered out onto Lacombe Lake and a man jumped in to rescue the pet.
Just one day earlier firefighters had to rescue a dog that went through the ice at the pond across from Fire Hall 3 at 100 Giroux Road. That same week an 11-year-old boy chased a Frisbee onto a stormwater retention pond and firefighters had to rescue him from the ice.
Mroz said that he predicts ice incidents and rescues to become more common because we are incorporating stormwater retention ponds into new subdivisions.
“When you have more and more people going into those areas you run the risk of more things happening. That is why we seem to be getting more and more of these calls,” Mroz said.
Mroz said that if you ever fall through the ice, kick your legs until you are horizontal and pull yourself up onto the ice. He said to crawl to disperse your body weight until you are somewhere safe to stand.
Lacombe Lake is the only natural ice surface in the city that is approved for public recreation but only after city staff have tested the ice thickness and approved ice activities. Warm weather means the lake is not yet safe to be on. City signs at the rink will advise people when the ice is thick enough to use.
All other ponds, rivers and bodies of water in the city are always unsafe to walk or skate on.
Warmer weather has played havoc on city outdoor rinks in recent weeks, so the best place to skate right now may be at city indoor rinks.