Photo: In 1921, trees were used to mark a safety boundary line in the ice to warn the public of unsafe areas. Today, the public is advised to stay off the ice at all times and exercise caution when walking or working near the ice. Photo by Arthur Beales, from the PortsToronto archive.
While the City’s frozen Harbour can be a beautiful sight, it’s important to remember that the iced-over harbour and lake can be dangerous, and that caution should always be exercised when walking or working near the ice. Even though it may appear thick, the ice can move or shift in unpredictable ways and should never be considered safe to walk or skate on. PortsToronto, and other landowners along the waterfront, have safety equipment, including ring buoys and reaching poles, available in places along the Harbour’s edge. In the event that a person, pet or animal becomes stranded or falls through the ice, stay off the ice, call 9-1-1 for help, and attempt to locate and use any safety equipment available.
In addition to being a concern for public safety, ice can make it difficult for ships and ferries to safely navigate and access Toronto’s Harbour. Every year, PortsToronto anticipates ice in the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport ferry slips and prepares with an ice mitigation system that uses underwater pumps to circulate the water to help reduce ice formation. When the water is in motion, it reduces the amount of ice that forms, making it easier for the ferries to navigate across the Western Channel. PortsToronto also coordinates its activities with the Toronto Fire Service Marine Station and their ice-breaking fire tug, the MV William Lyon MacKenzie, to ensure safe boater navigation within the Harbour.