Local municipalities and Conservation Halton have launched a joint winter water safety campaign to educate residents about the dangers associated with waterways this time of year.
Together, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, the Town of Oakville and Conservation Halton are launching the campaign.
While areas containing frozen lakes, ponds, channels and reservoirs can be beautiful places to visit during the winter months, there are many risks associated, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people are exploring different ways to stay active and enjoy the outdoors.
Stormwater management ponds are especially dangerous and recreation of any kind is not permitted.
Residents are reminded that stormwater management ponds are designed to retain water runoff and slowly release it back into receiving watercourses.
Although these may look inviting, factors such as continuously flowing water, fluctuating temperatures, and runoff pollutants like road salt, can make these bodies of water unpredictable.
While they are beautiful from afar, they are not safe and should be avoided.
“Conservation Halton operates and maintains significant flood control infrastructure in support of public safety, both in our parks and out in the community,” said Glenn Farmer, Manager Flood Forecasting and Operations, Conservation Halton.
“Reservoirs and flood channels are increasingly dangerous during the winter months as cold water and unstable ice amplifies existing dangers. With many of us exploring nature this winter during the ongoing pandemic, please be cautious around water and ice, and keep a safe distance away from the edge of water.”
It is important to remember to keep family members and pets away from all bodies of water and avoid recreational activities in or around waterways.
Additionally, residents are reminded not to follow pets or people on the ice or attempt a rescue. Always call 911 for assistance.
“Ice on stormwater ponds and in waterways can be very deceiving. It may look fun and inviting, but the reality is we don’t know how safe they are, especially our stormwater ponds,” said Karen Roche, Fire Chief, Burlington Fire Department.
“Stormwater ponds are not monitored for ice thickness and have year-round water flow, which weakens and thins the ice. While they may look safe, they are not. There are plenty of other great outdoor activities to get your exercise and enjoy your time outside. Please stay off the ice and away from waterways.”