A popular ice path for skaters in Victoria Park is returning this year under a new name: the IceWay.
The Freezeway, a 400-metre, figure eight-shaped skating path with lights was unveiled last winter beside the Victoria Park Oval. The idea came from Matt Gibbs, a landscape architect and former Edmontonian who envisioned an 11-kilometre path that would allow commuters to skate to work downtown.
The pilot project was scaled back and opened in Dec. 2015 as a recreational skating loop. Weather permitting, the path will return next month as the IceWay.
The ice surface will be expanded this year, the city said in a media release, and the possibility of a second skating trail in the river valley is also being considered.
In an interview with Edmonton AM earlier this month, Gibbs said he has not been consulted by the city on plans to expand upon the project for the future.
"I think by any standard it was an overwhelming success … though it obviously had room to improve to be a little bit bigger," he said.
'I think by any standard it was an overwhelming success ... though it obviously had room to improve to be a little bit bigger.' - Matt Gibbs, came up with idea for FreezeWay
Gibbs said the success of last year's pilot project proves Edmontonians are interested in the idea expanding into a possible future commuter skating route, but the public needs to voice their support for that to happen.
"People do skate to work, as I do in Ottawa," Gibbs said.
"On this route, should we one day realize the vision fo an 11-kilometre route, there's only 19 intersections that would be required to cross. And if we can get people to the moon, we can get people across the street safely."
The IceWay will be directly connected to the existing Victoria Park Oval, a large ice surface open to the public.
Admission to both the oval and the IceWay is free, and the IceWay will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.