Canal remains open despite weather conditions

The past three months have been anything but consistent as far as weather goes in the nation’s capital, but Ottawa’s biggest weather-dependent tourist attraction hasn’t seen any negative effect from the inconsistent temperatures.

Not only is the Rideau Canal Skateway constantly getting new visitors, but over a two week span, Ottawa saw temperatures between -40 celcius to -5.

“Over the years, we have an average season of 50 days and we have not seen much of an impact because of variations in the weather,” said Emily Keogh from the National Capital Commission.

“Ultimately, our objectives are to bounce back more quickly and be able to re-open when we have adverse weather.”

While rainfall and a polar vortex swept Ottawa at times, the NCC was prepared.

“We have modified some of our maintenance operations, not necessarily because of climate change,” said Keogh.

“We had very cold temperatures in December which really gave us some good quality, thick ice to work with. When we had the thaw in January, we were only closed for a total of six days.  We wouldn’t say that this year has been particularly hard to manage.”

On Jan. 30, the Canal played host to the first ever Canadian Tire Canal Classic. All of the proceeds raised were donated to Jumpstart, a program which helps underprivileged youth get involved in sports and recreation.

Although the NCC lent Canadian Tire their ice for the day, the most important issue for them is keeping the world’s largest skateway open for both locals and tourists.

“The number of skaters this year has been pretty consistent with previous years. If anything, we may even have more skaters because the ice quality is so good.”

As difficult as attendance can be to gauge, the NCC expects to get a million skaters in total this season.

This is the 44th year that the skateway has been open to the public, although the first documented event of skating on the Canal dates back to a hockey game played in 1901.