Central council shies from Lake Mindemoya groomed trail

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CENTRAL MANITOULIN – A proposal made by Mindemoya resident Maja Mielonen for an ice rink for skating/hockey, a linear skating track, a groomed cross-country trail and a skate/ski strip be constructed on the ice cover of Lake Mindemoya was discussed under the unfinished business portion of the agenda by Central Manitoulin council at its January 14 meeting.

Concerns over ice conditions were raised by a number of councillors, especially about putting staff and equipment on lake ice. The consensus was “this was not the year to do this as the ice has been very thin so far this season and council had concerns about putting staff and equipment on lake ice.”

Councillor Derek Stephens noted the receipt of letters promoting the concept as “what people do in Sudbury,” but he noted that “it was not a municipal thing.” He pointed out that while the City of Greater Sudbury may have assisted with staff and equipment, the skating circle and ski trail on Lake Ramsey are under the management of a group of private citizens, not the municipality as such.

Counciller Stephens went on to share he has been receiving reports that the ice on Lake Mindemoya is currently around four inches thick, while on Lake Ramsey it is closer to 12 or 14 inches. “Lake Mindemoya is an interesting lake,” he said. “I have been through the ice twice (in years past).”

Councillor Stephens added that he believed the concept should be put in place by a community group, rather than as a council initiative. “If there was a group, we could help them,” he said, but cautioned that he did not believe staff should be put on the ice.

Councillor Al Tribinevicius agreed that staff should not be sent out onto the ice, “especially this year. I think a group of people should be doing that.” While he said he believed it was “a great idea,” he also cautioned that “Manitoulin has had a problem with people going out on thin ice.”

Councillor Angela Johnston said she loved the idea in principle, but it was now the middle of January and the weather has remained too mild to form solid enough ice and it was unlikely to improve soon enough to be viable this year. She suggested the idea of an outdoor rink should be explored.

Councillor Dale Scott agreed, suggesting that the ball field in Mindemoya might prove an ideal and safe location and that the municipal firefighters might be enlisted to aid in the project. He declared himself “uncomfortable” in sending staff out on lake ice.

Councillor Rose Diebolt asked if there was an opportunity to hook up with the snowmobile trails for the skiing part. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Two cross-country ski trails are located in Central Manitoulin at Maple Ridge in Mindemoya and fall under the umbrella of the Manitoulin Nordic Ski Club.)

Mayor Richard Stephens said that it appeared to be “a consensus of council that this isn’t the year to do it.”

Councillor Stephens said he liked an idea put forward by Councillor Shaffer to have the concept investigated by a trail committee, which Councillor Scott supported.

The issues were to be “returned to the Central Manitoulin Trail Committee for further consideration.”