Town asks residents to stay off storm ponds
Okotoks: Families want to be able to skate on outdoor ice
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 10, 2013 01:03 pm
During a southern Alberta winter where there is ice there usually is hockey, but Okotoks officials are warning residents some areas need to be off limits.
A storm pond in the Crystal Ridge has become a popular skating spot for area residents even though it’s against the Town’s bylaws to skate on storm water ponds.
Town staff is concerned about the safety of people skating on the pond.
However, area residents don’t want the Town to prohibit people from being able to skate on a storm water pond behind homes along Crystalridge Drive where a number of area residents have cleared a rectangular section of ice on the pond.
Resident Barney Kenny said the Town should let people continue to skate on the pond. He said it’s not deep and the ice should be fine after recent cold weather.
“The Town should butt out,” said Kenney. “Let these kids have fun.”
However, Town officials are urging people to use one of the five outdoor rinks throughout town.
Area resident Fran Osmars said she didn’t know it’s against Town bylaws to skate on storm ponds, however, she doesn’t think it should be much of a problem for the Crystal Ridge pond.
“I like to see the kids out there having a good time,” said Osmars.
She said the pond isn’t deep and safety isn’t much of an issue when the ice is frozen.
“I don’s see the harm in it,” she said.
Osmars said the Town should have more outdoor rinks for people to skate on if storm ponds are off limits.
“I would love to see more outdoor amenities for people to use,” she said.
One Cimarron resident said people should also be able to skate on storm ponds in their area as well.
Cimarron area resident Jared Bespalko said earlier this winter Okotoks Municipal Enforcement Officers told area residents to get off the ice on a pond near Cimarron Drive.
He said it should be safe after two weeks with temperatures below minus 10 degrees.
“I understand it’s a storm pond, potentially there’s runoff coming into it, but there’s no melting occurring when it’s that cold,” he said.
If people can’t skate on storm water ponds, he said he wants to Town to provide more alternatives.
“Where this storm pond is located, there’s a pond located directly across the street,” he said. “It would be a great location for an outdoor rink.”
Town administration is reviewing the issue and will present a report on to town council this month.
While people may think the ice is safe, Okotoks fire chief Ken Thevenot said it’s a gamble to venture out on a storm pond.
Thevenot said ice on storm ponds is more inconsistent compared to ice on a pond in a field or a larger body of water like Crystal Shores Lake.
He said water levels can often change in storm ponds, which can impact the strength of ice on top. As well, Thevenot said storm ponds have chemicals from road runoff, such as salt, antifreeze or oil, affecting the integrity of the ice.
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson said he isn’t willing to allow people to skate on storm water ponds because he also believes it’s not safe, but he’ll wait to hear what Town administration has to say.
“Based on the information we’ve had in the past, it’s not wise to skate on those ponds,” he said.
Robertson said he wants to see more ice surfaces set up in parks around town to give people a safe place to skate. Robertson said the number of outdoor rinks hasn’t changed for almost 10 years.
“Of course the population has nearly doubled in that time, so we should be encouraging the development of those types of skating surfaces in our community,” he said.
The existing outdoor rinks in parks are made by the Town each fall and Town personnel clears snow from the rinks, except for one in the Sandstone neighbourhood where residents have accepted the responsibility to do so.
Robertson said he is willing to work with residents who would like to have similar outdoor rinks established in their neighbourhood. However, he said it would have to be a community led initiative and there would need to be a consensus among neighbours to support the rink.
Anyone who would like a rink established in a green space can approach the Town to do so. At least 75 per cent of households bordering a park area would need to support the idea.
Christa Michailuck, Okotoks open spaces team leader, said the cost to make the rinks is minimal.
Berms were built around all the rink areas last year and as a result the only expense in the fall is the time Town staff spends making ice. Meanwhile, work to clear snow from the rinks is scheduled as part of the Town’s regular snow removal routineWhere are the five outdoor rinks in Okotoks? Most people think there are zero. Give the locations of the 5 outdoor rinks. .