The Caledon community was recently shaken by well-known and popular Palgrave pond being put under fire by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.
For over 20 years, Caledon residents have spent numerous hours skating, playing hockey and enjoying the wintertime on the Palgrave Mill Pond. During the past two decades, local resident Ken Hunt has maintained the hockey and skating rinks on the pond for the community.
Over those years, Hunt has been appreciated for his work maintaining the pond, in which he had assistance from both the Rotary Club of Palgrave and the local fire department. The Town of Caledon has, as well, acknowledged Hunt when he was awarded the Town of Caledon’s Distinguished Citizen Award.
Though maintained by Hunt, the pond is owned by the TRCA, who recently and suddenly decided to shut down the pond due to ice safety.
A news release was posted on January 13 on the Conservation Authority’s group demanding residents to stay off all TRCA ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
“Venturing out on the ice is not a permitted activity at TRCA parks,” the statement said.
Nicole Wilkins, Mr. Hunt’s daughter, in response to the news, began an online petition to allow the Palgrave Mill Pond to continue being used by residents of the community, as well as allowing her father to continue maintaining them.
“The ice thickness is checked every day and signs are posted when the ice isn’t safe to use,” said Wilkins in the petition. “There has never been an issue in the 21 years the rinks have been going.”
Members of the Caledon community were swift in reacting to the news, something which was noticed by the TRCA.
The Conservation Authority shared that they understand that “educational messages” aren’t always what communities want to hear.
“The enforcement warning by TRCA regarding the need for water safety was not specific to the Palgrave Mill Pond and the area has essentially been an unfortunate side effect of something that is intended to keep people and their pets safe across our nine watersheds,” said Ward 3 and 4 Regional Councillor Jennifer Innis, who is also Chair of TRCA’s Board of Directors.
Since the online petition began, over 3,800 people have signed. Additionally, Wilkins along with her father, have been invited to join a meeting with the TRCA and the Town of Caledon to discuss future solutions to continue of skating on the pond.
“TRCA is committed to connecting people with nature and work with our dedicated network of supporters across our jurisdiction to achieve this goal. And during this difficult time, we understand that it is needed now more than ever,” said Innis.
The TRCA has since informed the public that they are to educate about ice safety and the importance behind it, rather than enforcing residents to keep off the pond. Wilkins described her joy on the change.org petition on the recent update.
“This is the best result we could have hoped for at this point and means anyone who wants to can still enjoy the pond in these awful times,” she said.
Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen