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Rideau Canal still closed to skating as temperatures not in ‘sweet spot’

Ice skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa still hasn’t opened, although ice preparations are underway. However, one official says the temperature still might not be in the “sweet spot.”

Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson told Global News that the forecast for Ottawa is milder than normal.

“That will still likely mean daytime highs below freezing, but unfortunately probably not cold enough to be in the sweet spot that the folks of the Rideau Canal talk about … where they need temperatures (between) -15 to -25 C for a long period of time to really get the thickness of ice … required to get heavy machinery out on the canal.”

The Rideau Canal did not open for ice skating in 2023, a historic first, due to milder temperatures. It has been open to the public every year since 1971.

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The Rideau Canal Skateway can only be open to the public when the surface is at least 30 centimetres thick with good quality ice, according to the National Capital Commission (NCC).


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“To get there, our ice experts need about 10 to 14 consecutive days of temperatures between -10°C and -20°C,” the NCC says on its website.


Click to play video: '190 years and going strong, the Rideau Canal opens for another season.'


190 years and going strong, the Rideau Canal opens for another season.


The Rideau Canal is a national landmark that is transformed into the world’s largest skating rink each winter, attracting thousands of residents and tourists.

Spanning more than 7.8 kilometres, the canal is a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site. In the 2018-2019 season, the rink set a record of welcoming nearly 1.5 million people.

In an update, NCC spokesperson Benoît Desjardins told Global News that they began flooding the ice last week, and ice preparation is ongoing.

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“We intend to make the most of the cold weather forecast for the coming days and will reassess ice conditions and next steps as we go,” he said. “As a reminder, we ask the public to stay off the Rideau Canal, as the surface of the Skateway remains dangerously thin. The presence of work crews on the Skateway is not an indication that the ice surface is ready.”

Two teenagers died in late December after falling through the ice and into the Rideau River in an Ottawa suburb.

The delay in opening the Rideau Canal Skateway comes as Canada experienced warmer-than-usual temperatures in December that also affected ski hills, with some having to close many of their runs over the holidays.

Nevertheless, Desjardins still says they look forward to the 54th season of the Rideau Canal Skateway.

— with files from Global News’ Saba Aziz.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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