Rideau Canal Skateway opening on ice as snow, rain loom

Despite several days of colder weather and crews working long hours to prepare the ice, the opening day of the Rideau Canal Skateway's 47th season remains up in the air.

Opening 'close' but snow, rain could change that

The National Capital Commission is hoping it won't be too much longer before we can do this once again on the Rideau Canal Skateway. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

Despite several days of cold weather and crews working long hours to prepare the ice, the opening day of the Rideau Canal Skateway's 47th season remains a moving target.

The National Capital Commission said Monday the ice is "close" to being ready, but the current weather forecast could upset those plans. 

'We're not there yet. We can't speculate on an opening date.' - Cédric Pelletier, NCC spokesman

"We're getting close to the 30-centimetre thickness," said NCC spokesperson Cédric Pelletier, referring to the minimum ice thickness required before the skateway can open.

"But we're not there yet. We can't speculate on an opening date."

Crews have been working overnight shifts on the canal, flooding it and building up both the depth and quality of the ice.

'It will be a bit tricky'

However, Pelletier says there still hasn't been the minimum ten consecutive nights of at least –10 C temperatures typically needed to ensure the ice is ready. As well, the forecast is calling for snow and then rain over the next few days. 

Bruce Devine, Rideau Canal Skateway senior manager, remains optimistic the 'world's largest skating rink' will open soon. (Laurie Trudel/CBC)

"It will be a bit tricky," admits Bruce Devine, senior manager of the Rideau Canal Skateway.

"Fifteen centimetres [of snow] for tomorrow, so the idea here is to have the trucks ready to remove the snow as it falls to eliminate it. So once the rain starts to fall, the canal will be free of snow, and that gives us an extra flooding." 

Devine is optimistic a return to colder weather on Friday will allow the skateway to open soon after. 

The earliest the canal has opened for skating is Dec. 18, 1972; the latest is Feb. 2, 2002.