Good news for those excited for spring, but bad news for anyone who loves ice fishing, because huts need to be off the lake by the end of today.
March 15 is the day that ice huts must be off the ice and packed away for another year.
Rick Maw, an enforcement manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said the date is the same each year for a couple of reasons.
“March 15 has long been the date to have the huts off, as historically it seemed to be when it was safest to start moving them off,” Maw said. “Also, whether this played into it or not, but whitefish and lake trout season end March 15 and both fish are popular in Lake Simcoe.”
While the 'permanent' huts must be off, temporary huts can still be used so long as they are removed when you are done fishing for the day.
Maw said there are steep fines for people who don’t adhere to the rules and hopes everyone respects the reasons why.
“We have issued fines of up to $1,000 before,” he said. “We can issue just a ticket, but, in some cases, we will push for a summons to court if we feel there has been an extreme lack of respect for the lake’s well-being and safety of others.
"There have been incidents where people just start the hut on fire instead of responsibly bringing it off," Maw added. "All that’s inside and the hut itself just goes to the bottom of the lake and that’s what we want to avoid.”
Also, if the huts and any debris aren’t removed and fall into the melting ice, they could be a hazard for the spring and summer boating season.
The York Regional Police Marine Unit will also be enforcing the regulation for removal by midnight today.
"Every year, garbage and other materials that are left behind on the ice in the winter are not only pollution, but can be hazards for swimmers and boaters in the spring and summer," said Const. Laura Nicolle in a news release.
"Respect the environment and the waterway that you so enjoy. If you took it out on the ice, then take it back on land before the ice melts."
You can contact the York Regional Police Marine Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7321.