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​You might know them as community ponds, but they are actually a part of our city’s drainage infrastructure, and they aren’t safe for any type of recreation. EPCOR runs an annual campaign to help communicate the hidden dangers below the ice’s surface of stormwater management facilities.

The sound of skates scraping the ice on a backyard rink. The bright glow of flood lights over an evening hockey game at the community rink. Sights and sounds that go hand in hand with an Edmonton winter. To help provide families and kids with a safe space to skate, EPCOR provides financial support to community leagues across the city for the construction of outdoor rinks.

The $800 safe rink grant, which can be used to help construct a boarded or snowbank rink, is a key element of the stormwater management facility safety campaign. This annual program helps raise awareness of the risks of any type of activity — even walking — on the unstable ice at a stormwater facility.
​“While stormwater management facilities may look like ponds, they are not,” says Darren Gwozdz, Senior Manager of Health and Safety for EPCOR Drainage Services. “These facilities are there to enhance flood protection and are not safe for any recreational activities. With water continuously flowing underneath the ice surface, any ice that does form on top is very unstable.”

The risks are evident by the safety measures EPCOR crews take when retrieving sporting equipment left on the ice. Only after equipping themselves with harnesses, life jackets and waterproof gear and tethering themselves to each other, can crew members head onto the ice to retrieve the gear.
​“There are a lot of companies that talk about safety, but EPCOR actually lives it. Our employees live it, I live it, my team lives it,” says Gwozdz. “Everything we do, safety is part of it.”

The safe rink grant program has grown in popularity annually since it was first introduced in 2018. That year, five community leagues applied for funding — a number that increased substantially to nearly 100 in 2021.

“The grant has allowed our league to provide an ice rink for our community, where residents now have a safe place to skate,” says Teresa Marshall, membership director with Big Lake Community League, one of the fund recipients. “Since we’ve had our ice rink, we thankfully haven’t seen anyone use the stormwater facility for unsafe skating.”

Stay Safe Around Stor​mwater Facilitie​s

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