Keep off the ice: Edmontonians warned of stormwater lake dangers

"There's a skating rink being built and people are playing hockey, skating, sledding on these facilities."

Epcor says they're not safe for recreational activities

Edmontonians are being told to stay clear of stormwater facilities like this one at 157th Avenue and 59th Street. (CBC)

Epcor is warning the public about dangers posed by stormwater lakes after finding a skating rink on one in north Edmonton.

Epcor spokesperson Kelly Struski used the Hollick-Kenyon stormwater facility at 157th Avenue and 59th Street as a backdrop on Thursday to deliver a caution.

"Recently we found that people are using these facilities for recreational purposes," Struski said.

"As you can see behind us here, there's a skating rink being built and people are playing hockey, skating, sledding on these facilities, and it's important for us to let Edmontonians know that these are really operational sites."

Epcor has noticed "a noticeable amount of recreation activity" at its stormwater facilities, it said in a media advisory.

Struski acknowledged stormwater ponds can be inviting but said danger lurks beneath the surface.

"It looks safe on top but underneath there's water that's constantly moving," she said.

"There's a mix of a road runoff in here with salts and other materials that melt ice. So as you can imagine those materials in this stormwater facility can create some unpredictability with the ice, and the ice thickness."

The City of Edmonton and Epcor reminds people living near stormwater basins it is illegal to build ice rinks on the ponds. 1:17

There are more than 200 stormwater facilities in Edmonton and most are not fenced off but there are signs telling people to stay away.

"We have fenced off in some cases, stormwater facilities that are near schools for example and that's something that is certainly part of our plan if needed," Struski said.

Despite the danger, the Hollick-Kenyon facility is not fenced off, Struski said.

The current focus is on educating people about the risks, she said. More signs are going up, and a winter education safety campaign is underway.

People are using the Hollick-Kenyon stormwater facility for recreational purposes despite the warning signs. (CBC)

There haven't been any accidents to date this season, Struski said.

"We're not aware of any incidents but that's exactly what we're trying to avoid."