A 'no trespassing' sign was erected near a storm water pond in the Stonebridge area of Barrhaven that had become a popular place for area children to skate. The property owner, Mattamy Homes, says the pond is unsafe for skating. (Dave Charbonneau / CTV News Ottawa)

Families in Barrhaven are disappointed after being told to stop skating on a pond that has recently been deemed unsafe by the owner of the land, Mattamy Homes.

“People are making their own rinks,” says Barrhaven resident Natalie Albrough. “They came out with their shovels. Tons of room to social distance.”

Normally packed, the makeshift rink is now vacant. People can no longer use the ice surface, which is located on private property.

“My boys started using the pond, and then more residents started coming out, and then more residents started coming out. It was a lovely community thing here,” says Albrough.

The popularity of the pond caught the attention of Mattamy Homes, who showed up Monday, kicked kids off the ice, and even took their hockey net.

“Yesterday, my boys were out skating and Mattamy came down and put up this sign, the no trespassing sign, and deemed it unsafe, saying that it's a storm water pond,” Says Albrough.

Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan is urging residents to avoid the pond.

“Bottom line, it's not safe. These are storm water ponds; they have moving water underneath the ice surface so the ice can give way at any moment,” she said.

Mattamy Homes provided a statement explaining the new signage. 

"Mattamy's intent with the 'no trespassing' signs around the multiple Stonebridge storm ponds and skating surfaces cleared by individuals is to help ensure safety, as the unstable ice conditions and deep waters can be extremely hazardous," the statement said.

Residents want Mattamy to take a closer look at the situation, saying not all ponds in the area are the same.

“There are ponds in Stonebridge that aren’t storm water ponds that Mattamy could possibly allow the community to skate on at our own risk and let us enjoy skating during these challenging times,” says Albrough.

Albrough’s son Tristan says he is upset that he can no longer skate on the pond.

“We were just trying to come and just have fun, you know? Just try to social distance and enjoy this beautiful pond.”

Residents say, with a lack of outdoor activities in the area, this was something that the community could do to keep their kids busy.

“There’s nothing for these kids and families to do,” says Albrough. “I mean, the amount of community that came out and was thankful for this was unreal.”

Meehan says other skating rinks should be available soon. 

“The majority of the community rinks, and we have 265 in the city, hopefully if the weather cooperates, those rinks will be open this weekend,” Says Meehan. “So, the kids and the parents will have a place to play safely.”

Mattamy Homes says it will put up more detailed signs near the ponds soon, highlighting the specific risks and safety concerns.