The installation of the sign marked the completion of a two year construction phase for BBEMA’s project to restore the Historic Summerside Ice Pond. Since the late 1800’s this pond (S’side West end) has provided recreational opportunities, a place to fish, a home for wildlife, and a visual refuge for urban dwellers looking for relief from crowded city streets. Once the base of a thriving commercial industry: Ice harvesting took place in the 1890’s (this pond was considered the best source in Prince County for pure ice). Until the late 1950’s, the pond was a popular for swimming, picnicking, fishing (summer) and skating, bonfires, hockey games (winter). There are still some final landscaping touches to be completed in the spring of 2019.
In 2015 BBEMA received a three-year project grant (Environment Canada) to develop a Wildlife Biodiversity Plan with the City of Summerside and its residents – subsequent consultations with community members identified natural areas within the city that were deemed currently and historically of importance to people. The West End Ice Pond was identified – many people remember skating, swimming, fishing on this pond as youth. The unfortunate neglect of the pond, corresponding fishway has meant that those opportunities are no longer available to youth. Interest in the historic pond and the opportunity to restore it has been steadily growing. The DFO RCFPP program was recognized as a vital funding opportunity to restore this historically significant recreation fishing area to future youth and family generations of city residents. In 2016 BBEMA was lucky to receive a $300000.00 grant from the RCFPP Program from the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to complete a restoration of the 125 year old Historical Ice Pond located at the end of South Drive in Summerside. In the fall of 2018 BBEMA completed this extensive two-year restoration project – the pond was excavated to the original pond basin (12 ft depth) – a concrete fishway and ladder was installed to allow for fish passage and migration to the ocean and a walking bridge. As per the contract with DFO the restoration grant funds could only be applied to those actives as related to fish habitat and fish passage: pond excavation, stream restoration, fish way ladder and cell construction. Since completion of the project, BBEMA has been gifted ownership/management of the pond itself and surrounding 1.7 acre of adjacent land from Amalgamated Dairies Ltd. for the purpose of conserving/protecting it for the residents of Summerside as a natural area. BBEMA Board members, management and staff are excited and proud to have completed this enhanced fish (wildlife) area. BBEMA is looking forward to seeing how are efforts will bring new life to this once neglected waterway. Be sure to stay tuned for the Grand Opening Day this coming summer.