An Edmonton couple is refusing to accept the $100 penalty handed to them on New Year’s Eve for making use of the frozen pond behind their home.

Brian and Morgann Tomlinson say they plan to fight the $100 ticket they received when a peace officer interrupted their skating party to cite them for “modifying land that could cause risk of injury.”

The Tomlinsons had cleared off and flooded a portion of the ice on Poplar Lake to create an outdoor rink for their children and neighbours to skate on. It’s a tradition they’ve held for several years, but now, the city has told them it’s not safe.

The lake is fenced off to the public, with signs posted around it reading “KEEP OFF – DANGER – Unknown ice conditions.” However, Morgann Tomlinson says she was not aware it was illegal to build rinks on the ice. “I can’t believe they didn’t give us a warning,” she told CTV Edmonton. She added that she and her husband plan to fight their ticket, and will push the city to clarify its signage to make it clear that a bylaw prohibits skating in certain areas.

“We would never put our friends or family at risk at all,” Brian Tomlinson said. “Checking the depth of the ice, we found it was safe enough.”

The Edmonton couple are avid hockey fans who chose to live near Poplar Lake, in part, because it was a great location to build an outdoor rink in the winter. “This is what we grew up doing, playing hockey on ponds and rinks and having fun,” Brian Tomlinson said.

Morgann Tomlinson said she’s seen other rinks in the area built next to the city’s “keep off” signs, so she thought they were just suggestions – not lawful notices. “I don’t think anyone is obeying those signs. So I thought it meant ‘At your discretion,’” she said.

The city of Edmonton permits skating on stormwater lakes “when conditions allow.” The city’s website lists all stormwater lake locations, and includes a message in bold saying “Please obey all posted signs.”

Poplar Lake is considered a “stormwater-influenced wetland,” and is not included on Edmonton’s list of stormwater lake locations, according to the city’s website.

Morgann Tomlinson expressed her frustration with the law in post to her Facebook page on Wednesday. The post shows two men and two children playing hockey on the pond, with the reeds of Poplar Lake in the background.

“Sorry kids, not this year,” Tomlinson wrote.


Sorry kids, not this year

Posted by Morgann Tomlinson on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

With files from CTV Edmonton