The nation’s capital is embracing its Canadian identity by offering the largest skating rink in the world to the public. For free. Because, Canada.
The Rideau Canal Skateway, entering its 51st year in operation, is going to open this winter, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Skateway winds its way through the heart of Ottawa, covering a total length of 7.8 kilometres, stretching from downtown to Dow’s Lake.
The largest skateway on Earth is divided into 13 sections and during its peak, hosts roughly 21,000 skaters per day.
During a phone call with Daily Hive, Cédric Pelletier, the National Capital Commission’s Strategic Communications Advisor, said the rink is “business as usual” this winter and while precautionary COVID-19 measures will be put in place, the rink is waiting for Mother Nature to open up to the public.
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“We’re just waiting for cold weather to come,” said Pelletier. “The water levels are where they’re supposed to be. As soon as the cold weather comes and there is sufficient thickness with the ice, we will open.”
Pelletier says the process usually starts in mid-December but the opening is “all dependant on weather.” He says there’s no firm date but skateway officials will be ready “as soon as we can.”
Skateway officials know this winter especially, people will be eager to take advantage of outdoor activities. Pelletier says the canal needs 30 cm of ice before it can “support the weight” of all the skaters, which usually requires “10 to 14 days of -10ºC to -15ºC weather.”
Once the canal is deemed skateable, it will open “gradually by section.”
As for COVID-19 measures, physical distancing and sanitization stations will be mandated and the canal’s lockerrooms will eliminate the cubbies often used for skaters to store their belongings.
Pelletier says staff are working with public health to ensure nothing but the safest of skating for everyone.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) has created an interactive map of the canal’s length, which sections are open and closed, rest areas, and what its ice conditions are like.
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We’ll be sure to keep you posted as soon as the Rideau Canal Skateway opens so can lace up.
Until then, some stats and more information about the historic skateway can be found right here.