County moves on ice hut issue

Lacombe County may take up the cause of making the registration of ice fishing huts provincial law.

Lacombe County may take up the cause of making the registration of ice fishing huts provincial law.

Council showed support on Thursday for the effort to take a resolution to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, but wants to talk first to its neighbour Red Deer County, which has also shown interest in the issue. The municipalities will decide which takes the issue to their association.

A concerted effort has been made by the Town of Sylvan Lake, law enforcement agencies and provincial departments this year to ensure the lake is cleared of ice fishing huts when the season ends at the end of this month.

Last year, two dozen huts were left on the lake at the end of the fishing year, creating an environmental and safety hazard.

It is illegal under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act to deposit waste on ice or into water but many times huts have been left on the ice until it’s unsafe to retrieve them. They then sink or get blown to shore as debris when the ice melts.

The Town of Sylvan Lake and other municipalities are backing a resolution that will go to an upcoming Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference urging mandatory registration and better education and enforcement to promote responsible ice fishing.

“It’s an excellent resolution,” said Lacombe County commissioner Terry Hager, in an update to council on the issue.

Councillor Cliff Soper said registration is the key issue for those trying to get owners to remove their huts before it’s too late.

“In the past, they’ve gone out and there have been some huts there and nobody knows who owns them,” he said. “That’s the problem.”

Councillor Keith Stephenson said government representatives were out on the lake earlier in the winter and counted 90 ice fishing huts. About 20 had voluntarily registered their shacks, which are marked with a large number that can be read from the shore. Owners provide contact information when registering so they can be reminded to come and get their huts before they are hauled off the lake by the province and then carted away by municipalities to be burned.

The province plans to go out on the lake beginning on April 2 to start hauling away huts.