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Parks Canada issues warning after 4 people fall through ice on Alberta lake

Click to play video 'Parks Canada issues warning after 4 people fall through ice on Lake Minnewanka' Parks Canada issues warning after 4 people fall through ice on Lake Minnewanka
It’s a popular skating destination in Banff National Park. But now, Parks Canada is warning people to make sure the ice on Lake Minnewanka is thick enough after four people recently fell through. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Jan 24, 2021

Parks Canada is reminding those planning to skate on frozen lakes in the mountains to be aware of ice thickness.

READ MORE: Warm Alberta weather prompts thin ice warning

The warning comes after four people fell through ice on Lake Minnewanka, Alta. — which is northeast of Banff — over a two-day period.

According to Parks Canada, three of the individuals were able to self-rescue, but the Banff Fire Department said one woman in her 20s was in the water for about 30 minutes before being pulled out.

Visitors enjoy Lake Minnewanka near Banff, Alta., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

The fire department said a man who tried to help the woman also partially fell through the ice.

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READ MORE: Edmontonians warned to keep off stormwater facilities

Parks Canada and the Banff Fire Department brought the pair to safety. The woman was taken to hospital with hypothermia, while the man was assessed at the scene but did not require further care.

The deputy fire chief said the man and woman unknowingly ventured onto a section of the lake where the ice was thin.

Parks Canada issues thin ice warning for people wanting to skate on Lake Minnewanka, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

Parks Canada said ice thickness varies on the lake, and skaters should avoid it unless it is at least 15 centimetres thick.

“Because of [Lake Minnewanka’s] size and depth, it does not usually freeze over until well into mid-winter. The west end of the lake, near the Lake Minnewanka Road, is the last part of the lake to freeze each winter,” Parks Canada said.
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“As this is an artificial reservoir, water level varies throughout the winter, and ice can be cracked near the shoreline. Winds can be strong on this 30-kilometre long lake. Skaters can be pushed out by the winds and may not be able to skate back. Bring boots to walk back or stay close to your starting point. The lake is large — be aware that help can be a long way away if you get into trouble.”

A group plays shinny hockey on Lake Minnewanka near Banff, Alta., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

Parks Canada added that it “does not monitor natural ice surfaces for safety or mark potential hazards,” and if people skate on natural ice, they’re doing it at their own risk.

Skaters are also encouraged to have equipment available for self-rescue, such as rope, ice picks and personal floating devices.

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Naween Mohammed skated on the lake on Sunday.

“It’s definitely going to make me a little more cautious,” Mohammed told Global News. “I’m not going to skate on the outer edges. I’m not going to go out too far.”

– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small

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