Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Not an ice time for some: Winter roads delayed as skating pond opens

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Skaters, prepare to lace up your blades.

The newly expanded duck pond at Assiniboine Park opened for skating at noon Friday. The favourite skating spot of generations of Winnipeggers is now more than double its size and has new lighting, matted paths to the skating area, a warm-up hut and washrooms.

At The Forks, the only skating is on dry land, but there's lots of it -- with the Olympic-sized rink and pathways and under the canopy.

The river trail at The Forks remains closed with open water still in spots on the rivers thanks to the unseasonably warm weather. Today's high in Winnipeg is expected to reach -1 C. Normally at this time of year it's -13 C, Environment Canada says.

The balmy temperatures may also set back winter-road construction by a couple of weeks, the province said.

"Weve been a little bit behind schedule because of the mild weather," said Larry Halayko, the provincial director of contract services. No one can say for sure when the vital connections to remote Manitoba communities will be open, he said.

"Were anywhere from on schedule to two weeks behind," Halayko said. It depends on when a cold spell hits.

"The holdups can be ice on the lakes," said Halayko. "You need a certain amount of ice."

And the weather is not co-operating.

Today's high in Berens River is expected to reach 0 C, Environment Canada says. The normal high this time of year is -15 C.

Normal winters cant be relied upon to build winter roads anymore, Halayko said.

"Wherever possible, we're trying to move to land-based roads," he said.

Work on the all-weather road is underway, said Ronuk Modha with the East Side Road Authority. The 156-kilometre road from Provincial Road 304 to Berens River First Nation, 273 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is taking shape, he said.

Seven kilometres of road were completed last fall. It's not a typical highway that's being completed in a linear fashion, he said.

"Were focusing on different sections that will improve the movement of people on the winter road system."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2011 B2

History

Updated on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 9:39 AM CST: adds apostrophes

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