Niverville sets annual deadline to retrieve items from frozen lakes

On February 7, Niverville’s town council passed a new bylaw which marks March 1 as the official date by which residents need to have all personal items or structures removed from local frozen waterways.

“People like to enjoy the lake, so they bring a firepit to be a part of the kids skating. Or maybe they leave their hockey net out there,” says Mayor Myron Dyck. “All of a sudden, we get a warming trend and then the ice starts to get thin and now we’ve got people scrambling onto the waterways to get their stuff from sinking into the lake. We’re just trying to ensure we’re doing this safely and efficiently… We don’t want anyone getting hurt.”

Items not retrieved by this date will be removed by the local fire department and delivered to the town office. Residents wanting to collect their items will be required to pay a fee in lieu of the cost incurred by the fire department for having to retrieve them.

“We’re not looking for ways to penalize people,” Mayor Dyck says. “So if it’s someone’s property, like skates or a net or whatever, we want to return it to the rightful owner. At the same time, we’re trying to not let the lakes become a dumping ground.”

By dumping ground, the mayor refers to the many items they know already lie at the bottom of the lakes due to early thaws from years past.

Retrieval of items from frozen lake surfaces is best left to the fire department, Dyck says, rather than putting town staff at undue risk. If someone should fall through, the fire department is already trained and equipped for ice and water rescues.

Council asks that residents also take responsibility for items of no intrinsic value, like bales, which are dragged onto ice surfaces and left for the town to deal with.

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen