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Keep off: Ice not thick enough on Trout Lake despite sub-zero temperatures

Last Updated Feb 6, 2019 at 11:56 am PDT


Signs are up at Trout Lake, warning people to stay off the ice which is too thin to walk or skate on

Be careful if you're around any frozen lakes that may be too thin, and also watch your pets

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It may have been cold for a few days, but not nearly enough to go skating on some lakes around Metro Vancouver.

“Trout lake is definitely frozen,” Greg Harper with Breakfast Television on City explains. “Motionless, definitely a layer of ice is here. But there’s also a number of signs saying ‘Danger Keep Off,’ ‘Danger Thin Ice.'”

He says he hasn’t seen anyone strapping on their skates, adding — despite the sub-zero temperatures — the ice is so thin you can break through it with a stick.

“In some areas the ice is a little thicker, but in others you can penetrate it,” he adds. “I’ve pounded the ice with my foot as well and it’s starting to crack.”

It’s not just people who need to watch their steps — there is also a concern about dogs wandering onto the ice.

Trout Lake froze over two years ago, and was thick enough for locals to skate and walk on for a time.

The lake had proven to be a popular spot for skating and winter enthusiasts that season.

Not a ‘skim of ice’ on Coquitlam lakes

Not all lakes in the region are freezing over. In Coquitlam, Park Manager Kathleen Reinheimer says there isn’t even a “skim of ice” on either of the city’s lakes.

“It hasn’t gotten to the point where people are even thinking about it yet, but it’s certainly something… if it got a little thicker then we’d be putting out some information bulletins encouraging people to be cautious.”

She adds the ice has to be very thick in order to withstand someone standing or skating on it.

“Intuitively, people think it looks solid so they can walk on it. But actually, in the winter of 2016 when we had the last heavy cold spell, we actually had staff out testing the thickness of the ice before we opened [the lake].”

Reinheimer points out conditions can be very deceiving, especially in a small, fresh water lake.

“You can have areas that are thicker or thinner, and in some areas even when we had them open for skating — we had Como Lake open — but we kind of taped off an area because there were enough shadows from the trees that it was actually thin closer to that edge. So to be prudent, it needs to be approached that way — we need to test it and identify where it’s fine and where we need to be careful.”

She says it’s important for people to look for and obey warning signs in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

“It looks OK and you might be OK, but in an hour or two it might be warmer and somebody following you might be in trouble. So it really is trying to educate people and not about scare mongering but just that kind of sober reflection. You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of that — when it happens, it’s pretty traumatic, I think, for the people who fall through the ice or get into that situation where they see a pet fall through the ice.”

In the 15 years that Reinheimer has worked in Coquitlam, she says she’s only seen the ice be thick enough to skate on once.

-With files from Lasia Kretzel