Iconic Rideau Canal Skateway will not open this year in historic first

After weeks of anticipation and slowly melting hopes, Canada’s iconic Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa will not be opening for the first time in history.

The famous canal-turned-ice rink has opened to the public every year since 1971.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) that manages the canal’s operations released a statement on Friday, saying its efforts to open the skating rink had come to an end due to the mild winter conditions.

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“Despite all the efforts by our teams, and even with the colder temperatures of the last 24 hours, the latest ice tests show that the Rideau Canal Skateway remains unsafe for skating,” the NCC said in its statement.

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“With further efforts unlikely to yield a different result, we are unable to open the Skateway for this season. We share everyone’s disappointment with this outcome.”

The announcement comes as much of the country is under a winter weather warning, and it’s expected that bitterly cold wind chills in some parts will continue until the weekend.

Despite temperatures dropping, it has been an unusually mild winter across Canada, according to meteorologists.

The Rideau Canal skating rink can only open to the public once the surface is at least 30 centimetres thick with good quality ice, according to the 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.

But the weather has not cooperated this year.

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 kilometers, 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.

“We already look forward to welcoming visitors to the world’s largest skating rink next winter,” the NCC said.

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