Winter Safety Message: Exercise Caution Near Waterways and Waterbodies

December 17, 2021, Toronto, ON – Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) reminds residents of the dangers that can exist near streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes around this time of year. We urge people to keep family members and pets away from the edges of all waterways.

While temperatures have been above seasonal so far this December, we can expect to experience frequent freeze-thaw cycles throughout the coming winter months. Fluctuations of temperature and precipitation types can increase runoff and contribute to higher water levels and faster flows in local watercourses.

Once rivers and waterbodies become ice covered, periods of rainfall and snowmelt can result in the weakening, shifting, and melting of that ice cover, making it unsafe.

winter ice covers a stream at Kortright Centre for Conservation

Other hazardous conditions, such as ice jams, can also be increased by frequent freeze-thaw cycles or a sudden warm-up causing significant ice and snowmelt. Additionally, slippery and unstable streambanks combined with extremely cold water temperatures can lead to dangerous conditions next to any type of waterbody during the winter months.

Be safe this winter and remember the following:

  • Keep family members and pets away from riverbanks and edges of all waterbodies, even if the surface appears to be ice covered.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk on iced-covered waterbodies. Always obey any posted safety signage.
  • Avoid all recreational activities in or around water, especially near ice jams or ice-covered water bodies, unless at an officially designated municipal facility.
  • Stormwater ponds/facilities were not built for ice skating. Water levels on these ponds can change due to road salt, snow melt and changing temperatures, causing cracks and dangerously thin ice.
  • Beware of thin ice that may develop around dams. Dam operators often lower water levels in reservoirs during winter and spring.
  • Rescuing another person or a pet from ice is dangerous. If you see anyone who has fallen through the ice, call 911 for help immediately.

aerial view of the Humber River covered in winter ice

As a reminder, TRCA does not monitor ice safety conditions. Tailor your winter outdoor activities to trails at TRCA conservation parks and lands or your local parks. Residents looking for opportunities for skating should confirm safe leisure options with their local municipality.

For more information, please visit and

To explore TRCA conservation parks and lands, visit

About Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
With more than 60 years of experience, TRCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario, created to safeguard and enhance the health and well-being of watershed communities through the protection and restoration of the natural environment and the ecological services the environment provides. More than five million people live within TRCA-managed watersheds, and many others work in and visit destinations across the jurisdiction. These nine watersheds, plus their collective Lake Ontario waterfront shorelines, span six upper-tier and 15 lower-tier municipalities. Some of Canada’s largest and fastest growing municipalities, including Toronto, Markham and Vaughan, are located entirely within TRCA’s jurisdiction.

Media Contact:
Michael Tolensky
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
416-706-9093 |