WINNIPEG -- Hockey games and skating could remain prohibited on Winnipeg’s retention ponds.

A new report recommends the city not allow people to use the ponds in the winter for recreational purposes.

While geese take over the ponds in the summer, people flocked to them last winter as rinks and arenas were closed during the pandemic’s second wave.

But a bylaw prohibits people from using the ponds.

After months of study, a new report is backing that bylaw, recommending the city not allow recreational activities on the drainage basins.

The report says safety is a significant factor adding ice thickness on these ponds is questionable because of salt runoff and water flowing underneath, which transports heat.

The city’s water and waste committee chair, Councillor Brian Mayes, agrees with the report written by city staff.

“I think you have to go with what the staff is saying, which is no,” said Mayes. “Given the nature of water that flows in there in the winter, no these are not safe for use.”

Councillor Markus Chambers raised safety concerns last winter as he has large retention ponds in his ward.

“It doesn’t take too long for something dangerous to happen,” said Chambers.

However, he wants to know if there is a way for the city to monitor ice thickness in the coldest months to make them safe for use.

“Under the proper conditions I think this could be a great resource to bring communities together,” said Chambers.

Mayes points out dedicating staff to check the ponds would require funding.

“I think once you get started on the ponds you’d also have to be looking at the Seine River and other waterways,” said Mayes.

Waverley West Councillor Janice Lukes says the city could handpick two or three retention ponds to monitor for use to cut down on potential costs.

“Maybe the cost of monitoring the ponds for safety is lower than the cost of building three pleasure rinks,” said Lukes.

The report says a check of other Canadian cities shows only Saskatoon permits this on selected ponds.

The recommendation will be considered at next week’s water and waste committee meeting. 

A full copy of the report can be found online. 

- With files from CTV’s Kayla Rosen.