One of Winnipeg's most popular winter attractions is on thin ice.
The frozen Forks river trail, which draws hundreds of people on a daily basis — thousands on weekends — to skate and walk during the winter months is nowhere close to being ready.
Typically, it opens in January with a Zamboni-led parade. But an unseasonably-mild winter this year has left thin ice and sections of open water along the Assiniboine River.
"There's been open water on the Assiniboine, actually, for quite a few years now but we were still able to build something sort of adjacent to that. It will just depend on what freezes and where and whether or not it is safe to get all of our equipment on to build," said Chelsea Thompson, spokeswoman for The Forks North Portage Partnership, which owns and manages the popular tourist site.
A good week of below –20 C temperatures is what's needed, as well as another foot of ice, she said.
"We also are working on a Plan B if, for some reason, we're not able to have the Red River Mutual Trail actually on the Assiniboine or the Red this year. Then we'll look for an alternative on land," Thompson said.
"We want to have a Plan B just in case but we're not ready to make that call at this point. I think we're looking at the end of January as sort of that cut-off point."
In the meantime, skaters can still carve some ice at The Forks. The kilometre-long trail that weaves through the Arctic Glacier Winter Park, as well as the canopy rink and the rinks by the festival stage are open.
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But not having the river trail, which gained international fame in 2008 as the world's longest naturally frozen skating trail, will have an impact.
"We find in the winter time numbers [of visitors] rival those of our summer so you know, July and August, the typical tourist season, we're now seeing those same numbers in January and February," Thompson said.
"A lot of that is due in part to the fact that they are arriving via the Red River Mutual Trail. So without that it would definitely have an impact on who's coming."