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Toronto Star Article On Simcoe Ice Fishing This Winter....

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Toronto Star News Story....

 

Winter sports face year on ice

 

This season is looking bleak for skiing and ice fishing, but in Toronto the weather is a boon

 

January 09, 2007

Phinjo Gombu

 

Joy Canning has had an ice-fishing operation on Lake Simcoe for 36 years and only once has she not been able to set up her huts.

 

That was in 2002, when freakish weather made the ice unsafe. Now she's worried that this winter is shaping up to be similarly memorable because of the warm temperatures.

 

With Lake Simcoe still ice-free and with just two phone inquiries for reservations over the holiday season, Canning, 64, who runs an ice-cream parlour during the rest of the year, wonders how bad things might get. Her 25 huts remain on dry land.

 

For the rest of the article....here's the link....

http://www.thestar.com/News/article/169153

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The Star seems to be having some problems with their site...keeps going down for a few minutes at a time...here's the full text....

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Joy Canning has had an ice-fishing operation on Lake Simcoe for 36 years and only once has she not been able to set up her huts.

 

That was in 2002, when freakish weather made the ice unsafe. Now she's worried that this winter is shaping up to be similarly memorable because of the warm temperatures.

 

With Lake Simcoe still ice-free and with just two phone inquiries for reservations over the holiday season, Canning, 64, who runs an ice-cream parlour during the rest of the year, wonders how bad things might get. Her 25 huts remain on dry land.

 

"I believe Mother Nature has her reasons and if she doesn't want us out this year, then we are not going out," said a philosophical Canning, whose business is on Kempenfelt Bay, near Barrie.

 

News of a cold front sweeping down from the north and snow falling yesterday in places like Gravenhurst brought hope to many people north of Toronto – especially those whose livelihoods depend on winter sports.

 

About 1,300 seasonal workers have been laid off at Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwood, but there's also concern among those who rely on other winter sports to make a living, including ice-fishing, snowmobile and cross-country skiing operations.

 

Whether there will be winter is a bit more complicated than just a bit of snow, Canning said.

 

What is needed – both for operators like Canning and the 5,000 to 10,000 people who regularly fish on a frozen Lake Simcoe during weekends – is a deep freeze.

 

Without it, the ice doesn't solidify properly – which means either unstable, unsafe ice or a short season, because the ice will melt too soon.

 

Canning said she fears that many of those who have not phoned her have already planned to do other things.

 

"Even if the cold comes, I probably won't be busy as I normally am," said Canning, who still considers herself pretty lucky that she's had a completely failed season only once in 36 years.

 

Like Canning, Craig Nicholson of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs said yesterday that while he welcomes news of snow, it's the cold that is needed most.

 

There are still no trails open in Ontario. Snowfall this week and next could lead to a mid-January trail opening, he said, but that's only half the story.

 

Snow, he explained acts, as insulation. So if the snow falls before the ground is properly frozen, it could mean a much shorter season.

 

In Toronto, meanwhile, the story is very different. The city is saving money – even though contract snowplow operators continue to be paid from the $62 million set aside for snow removal and remain on standby for a big storm.

 

Contractors have to be paid a base amount for the workers and the equipment, whether it snows or not, said Gary Welsh, general manager of transportation services.

 

But he expects the balmy weather will bring savings of between $5 million to $6 million without overtime and other snow-clearing costs.

 

The prolonged warm spell in 2007 is welcome, Welsh said yesterday.

 

"We appreciate this weather and we'd like it to continue," he said. "I just feel sorry for the ski operators and other workers that are dependent on winter activities because it's going to be a bad season for them."

 

But it makes Welsh's job easier, with lower overtime costs and less salt damage to roads, bridges and parking garages.

 

And the lack of freezing weather means fewer potholes, he said.

 

Salt is being applied selectively to problem areas such as hills, bridges and intersections, but in much lower quantities. In a normal year, the city goes through about 140,000 tonnes of salt.

 

"Our salt consumption is significantly down," Welsh said. "We haven't been ordering it this year. We'll probably not replenish our salt piles as frequently this winter."

 

The savings will be rolled into the city's reserve fund for snow removal. It currently stands at about $11 million, but officials would like to see the figure doubled.

 

Welsh said maintaining a reserve is important because Toronto can get hit with a major snowstorm with little warning. Storms like those that have hit Denver in recent weeks could cost Toronto $1 million day for snow removal.

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yep red the story this morning, I feel sorry for those who depend on the real canadian winters to make a living, not looking good for the long range either.

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