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Skaters on Ottawa's Rideau Canal during Winterlude, 2010. Photo: Judy Andrus Toporcer, Pierrepont NY. NCPR Photo of the Day archive, Winter 2010.
Skaters on Ottawa's Rideau Canal during Winterlude, 2010. Photo: Judy Andrus Toporcer, Pierrepont NY. NCPR Photo of the Day archive, Winter 2010.

Warm weather threatens Rideau skateway

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It's January and the Rideau Canal in Ottawa remains closed. The National Capital Commission--which maintains the canal-- is waiting for a good long stretch of cold weather.

It needs to be in the five degree range - and no warm days -- to harden the ice. Two winters ago, there were 58 days of skating on the canal. Last year, there were only 28, and this season doesn't look very promising.

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Three year-old Logan Clermont is skating with his family at the rink in front of city hall.
His dad Wayne says they'd rather be on the canal, but winter tends to disappoint, “can you remember the canal when you used to be able to skate on it? We have an outdoor rink where we live and last year, we only had 17 days on it. What do you think? Global warming?”

Over at the NCC, spokesman Jean Wolff says they were trying to get the canal ready, doing intense flooding last week during the cold snap.

But with snow last Sunday and the week ahead of warmer temperatures, everything is on hold.

“Once the snow came in, the snow wrecked the surface and melted the ice that was growing. We are waiting for cold weather, meaning nights below minus 15.”

Wolff says the maintenance staff takes personal pride in getting the canal open. And he knows many skaters in the city are getting impatient as well.

Chris Vogler has been skating on the canal for two decades. “It would be nice to be able to get out there and skate for miles. This is a nice little rink here, but going around in circles isn't as nice as skating out to Mooney's Bay and downtown and everything else.”

And once that opening announcement is made, Jean Wolff at the National Capital Commission says the skaters just appear. “ We announced we were opening at 10 and then at 11, there were already tens of thousands of people there. It's incredible how people crave skating on the canal.”

But for now, they remain unsatisfied...waiting for colder weather.

 

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