On the wrong track: St. John's tells ATV users, snowmobilers to get off Windsor Lake

·2 min read
This ATV was seen riding straight across Windsor Lake, a main source of the water supply in the St. John's area.  (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
This ATV was seen riding straight across Windsor Lake, a main source of the water supply in the St. John's area. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
This ATV was seen riding straight across Windsor Lake, a main source of the water supply in the St. John's area.
This ATV was seen riding straight across Windsor Lake, a main source of the water supply in the St. John's area. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The City of St. John's is warning snowmobilers and ATV users to steer clear of the city water supplies, after staff at Windsor Lake noticed tracks near the area where water enters the treatment plant.

Coun. Sandy Hickman said it's a major safety concern— and not just for snowmobilers.

"It hasn't happened a lot — people know that area is protected, and certainly the watershed is protected as well," he said. "There was no development at all, so we were surprised to see it."

The city prohibits many activities near the water supply in order to keep it as uncontaminated as possible. These include fishing, campfires, cutting wood and operating ATVs or snowmobiles.

"For the integrity of the purity of the water of the lake as well," Hickman said, "it is against the law to operate ATVs, snowmobiles on or near any of our water supplies."

Though the staff at Windsor Lake have only seen evidence of this kind of activity in the form of tracks, what is especially concerning is that these tracks were found near the water intake.

WATCH | St. John's wants snowmobilers and ATV users to better respect the water supply:

In this area of the lake, moving water is liable to affect the integrity of the ice, posing a danger for anyone operating heavy machinery on top of it.

"So that's dangerous for the snowmobiler, because the water could be moving there and therefore the ice is thin," said Hickman.

Along with Windsor Lake, the other protected watersheds for St. John's include Broad Cove River, Petty Harbour Long Pond, and Bay Bulls Big Pond.

Hickman said the city would certainly fine anyone found in violation of the posted rules around these watersheds, but admitted that it would be difficult to track down individuals based on tracks alone.

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"That would be a fine for the city, and something that we would endeavour to track down, but it would be difficult, of course."

Hickman said he wants people to understand that it's not just the city's drinking water that they're putting at risk: it's their water as well.

"We want people to feel that they understand ownership of their own water supply and protect it, as well as protecting themselves, despite there being numerous signs telling people that they can't ride ATVs or skidoos on Windsor Lake."

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