Who needs an official skating rink when there’s a frozen lake right in your own backyard?
Hundreds of North Shore residents enjoyed a rare outdoor treat recently when temperatures dropped low enough for locals to go skating and take part in pickup games of hockey on Rice Lake in the Lower Seymour Conservation Area.
Kids and adults alike took part in dozens of simultaneous games of shinny on the frozen lake during the last days of December – a rare event in the Lower Mainland, where mild winters usually preclude such outdoor skating scenes.
A recent arctic cold front saw temperatures dip on the North Shore as low as -13℃ overnight on Dec. 27 (a day when the mercury only “warmed up” to -8℃.) Temperatures stayed well below freezing until Jan. 1, when a gradual warming began.
Metro Vancouver officials pointed out that despite the popularity of skating at Rice Lake in the recent cold snap, the ice thickness of the lake is not monitored and activities aren’t sanctioned.
Heidi Walsh, director of watershed and environmental management at Metro Vancouver, said official advice is to keep off the lake, which is also posted in signs around Rice Lake.
Last week, Metro contacted the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and North Shore Rescue to voice concerns that the number of people out on the frozen lake might require an emergency response.
Wayne Kennedy, assistant chief of District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue, said crews did go out and inform people using the lake of potential dangers.
“The ice develops fast, and it can also change really fast,” he said. “It could be good one day and could change very quickly the next day.”
"Just because someone is skating on a frozen lake doesn't mean it's safe."
Brian Proctor, meteorologist for Environment Canada, said another weather system bringing possible snow to the North Shore is expected for the end of this week.
Colder than usual temperatures are expected to persist on the South Coast throughout the month of January.