Forks river trail not frozen enough for skaters, officials say

Despite the deep freeze hovering over southern Manitoba, The Forks river trail was still not open on Friday.

Assiniboine River flowing too fast for ice to freeze so far, according to Forks officials

Crews at The Forks dig into the river to determine ice thickness in Winnipeg on Thursday. (John Bronevitch/CBC)

Despite the deep freeze hovering over southern Manitoba, The Forks river trail was still not open on Friday.

“I am totally surprised! I thought it might even be open for Christmas, but no,” said Winnipeg parent Patrick MacDougall, who is looking forward to taking his kids for a skate on the trail. “The river trail is wonderful. I can’t wait for it to open.”

According to David Pancoe, the manager of special projects at The Forks, fast moving water is to blame.

“We are seeing a higher velocity on the Assiniboine River. It’s flowing much higher than it normally does, and it takes a bit longer for the ice to freeze,” he said.

He said the province is pumping more water from the Souris River basin down the Assiniboine River, which is causing the increased flows.

Pancoe estimates the flows are about four times faster than normal.

“Even with these really cold temperatures we’ve been having, there’s still open water on the river,” he said.

For now, crews are preparing for when they can open the trail by drilling into the river ice to measure its thickness and flooding the skating trail. 

“We have put on several floods to keep building up the ice to the point where we can get machinery on it,” said Pancoe.

The Forks is expected to open the port and the Red River portion of the trail next week. As for the Assiniboine, they’re just not sure yet. 

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