Mayo, Yukon, warns residents to stay off thin river ice

Scott Bolton, mayor of Mayo, says some parts of the river are even ice-free this year.

The Village of Mayo, Yukon, is warning people to stay off the Mayo River as the ice is unusually thin this year.

Mayor Scott Bolton says some parts are even ice-free. 

Bolton says there was a close call the other day when someone on a snow machine barely made it across.

On the bright side, the lack of ice may reduce the risk of severe flooding.

"As the ice jams up, on request Yukon Energy will reduce the water flows," he said. "And if they do that in a normal year, it collapses the ice and causes lots of problems.

"Without the ice being there this year, we can raise and lower the flows and be able to do maintenance pretty much seamlessly."

Still, some Mayo residents have renewed calls for Yukon Energy to reduce flows from its hydro dam.

Bruce Mitford says he returned home Wednesday from a week in Whitehorse to find his riverfront property flooded. He says it's the second time it's happened this winter.

"You're always on edge," he said. "You hate to go out because when you come back, you find something drastic has happened in your yard.

"I think Yukon Energy should just cut back the flows to traditional levels until they find an engineered solution to this."

Yukon Energy has temporarily reduced flows to allow government crews to clear downstream ice jams, but the company says its Mayo B hydro plant is not responsible for the flooding problems in the community.