Ottawa

Lace 'em up: Skateway's 50th season set to begin Saturday

A 2.3-kilometre stretch of the Rideau Canal Skateway is expected to open at 8 a.m. Saturday between the Pretoria Bridge and Bank Street, according to the National Capital Commission.

2.5-kilometre stretch of Rideau Canal from Pretoria to Bank scheduled to open at 8 a.m.

The Rideau Canal Skateway is scheduled to open on a bitterly cold Saturday morning, and while it's a later-than-normal start to the season, it's not a record. (The Canadian Press)

Lace up those skates, Ottawa-Gatineau: the 50th season of the Rideau Canal Skateway is finally about to get underway.

A 2.3-kilometre stretch of the Skateway is expected to open at 8 a.m. Saturday between the Pretoria Bridge and Bank Street, according to the National Capital Commission.

The ice on Patterson Creek will also be ready, the NCC said.

It will be a cold morning for skating, however, with Environment Canada forecasting a windchill that will make things feel like –28.

The agency has also issued a snowfall warning, with between 15 and 20 centimetres expected to fall later in the day.

Not the latest start

Warm weather conditions over the last few weeks, however, led to complications for the teams in charge of preparing the ice, and left some skaters anxiously awaiting for some positive news.

Although it feels like a late start, this isn't the longest the canal has gone without opening.

In fact, 2020 is only the sixth-latest opening. The longest delay was in 2007, when the skating season didn't launch until Jan. 23.

Warmer winters have led to shorter seasons over the past few years, said Carl Langlois, the NCC's skateway co-ordinator, in a recent French-language interview.

"The last five years have an average of 40 days [of skating]," he said.

The shortest season was recorded in 2016, with only 18 skating days between Jan. 23 and Feb. 25.

Last winter, the season stretched from Dec. 30 to March 10,with the canal open for 59 of those days. 

In Gatineau, Brewery Creek is also expected to open for skating at 10 a.m. Saturday.

With files from Radio-Canada

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