The County of Grande Prairie will be running a pilot program this winter, that will look to educate residents when it comes to recreation on stormwater ponds in the region.

The Recreational Use of Stormwater Ponds Policy, which was approved by council on Monday, will see as many as four ice surfaces within residential areas will be identified, with municipal resources to provide oversight and regular ice thickness testing.

Reeve Leanne Beaupre says they know residents are using several of the storm ponds in the winter months already, and from a liability standpoint, safety regulations are a must.

“You can’t turn a blind eye, regardless of whether you allow them to access the pond for winter or summer use, you have to have a policy and try and mitigate as much risk as possible,” she says.

“Administration is really looking to study the four in the pilot project, to see what the best practices [are], where the issues might be over the winter, and how they would mitigate some of those issues in the future,” she adds.

Beaupre says they’re not looking to have strict enforcement, but rather a more education-based approach when it comes to consulting with residents in the selected communities. She says some success hinges on community groups stepping up.

“If they have the information that our council wants to get out around risk and responsibility, they could then, in turn, educate anyone else that comes around,” she adds.

As part of the policy, volunteers will need to apply for approval to take responsibility for snow clearing and maintenance of stormwater pond ice surfaces.