GRCA: stay off frozen natural water bodies

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) has issued a warning for local residents to stay off frozen bodies of water.

“The [GRCA] and municipal emergency response agencies throughout the watershed are concerned about the increased use of frozen natural water bodies for on-ice activities such as skating and ice fishing this winter,” states a Jan. 14 press release from the GRCA.

“Most of these water bodies are not monitored for the purpose of winter recreation and may not be safe.”

Officials say ice fishing is strongly discouraged in areas where ice conditions are not monitored and anglers are advised to avoid areas downstream of dams and stay off the ice at the mouth of the Grand River.

“While colder temperatures allow for some ice formation, daily changes in temperature, wind, precipitation and underwater currents greatly affect ice conditions,” states the GRCA release.

“This winter has been warmer than usual, with significant fluctuations in temperatures, adding to the risk. On rivers and creeks in particular, moving water can further weaken ice that may otherwise look stable.”

GRCA officials say accessing frozen water bodies “puts both the public and municipal first responders at risk.”

Plus, “Anyone who falls through the ice could experience hypothermia and death before emergency services are able to provide assistance.”

In addition, banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are very slippery and, when combined with cold, fast-moving water, pose a serious hazard.

“Parents are encouraged to remind their children of the risks associated with these hazards and keep pets away from all water bodies,” states the release.

GRCA officials say select conservation areas, including Belwood Lake and Guelph Lake, are monitoring ice conditions and will offer ice fishing if conditions permit.

For up-to-date status of winter activities in Grand River Conservation Areas, visit

The conservation areas are subject to provincial COVID-19 guidelines, and operations may change with little notice, officials warn.