Rideau Canal Skateway closes after shortest season on record

The Rideau Canal is closed for the season after only 18 skating days, making 2016 the skateway's shortest season ever.

Skateway has only been open 18 days since Jan. 23

A skater makes his way along through tracks in the snow on the Rideau canal, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Rideau Canal Skateway has made the record books this season, but no one is celebrating.

The National Capital Commission announced late Thursday the skateway is closing for the season, making the 2016 season the shortest on record.

"It's been quite short and unpredictable due to adverse weather conditions," said NCC spokeswoman Jasmine Leduc.

Since opening Jan. 23, the skateway has been closed 16 days, almost as many days as it has been open.

Even on the 18 days when people have been allowed on the ice, skaters have only been able to skate the full length — 7.8-kilometres — a few times.

Ice can't recover after rain

Leduc said things started to go downhill last weekend when it rained, and that the ice won't be able to recover.

"There was a lot of water that had accumulated on the ice and it hasn't frozen, then we didn't have enough cold weather and then there was more snow and more rain," she said.

"Looking at what's in the forecast at this point, there's more snow and warmer temperatures. It's unrealistic to be able to reopen it."

Runner up for shortest season is 2001-2002, when the canal was open just 26 days.

Last season boasted a record 59 consecutive days of skating.

Sad for skaters, hard on businesses 

"It's been a really poor season so far," said Adam Hendren, who runs the Beavertail stand on the canal, before the announcement.

"It's always fun being on the canal. It's a unique experience, but obviously the more you're open the more money you make."

A runner makes her way through slush on the Rideau Canal Pathway on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Temperatures rose above 0 C Saturday morning. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Hendren said it's been tough on his staff members who aren't getting the shifts they want.

"Most of the staff are hired just for the canal season. A lot of them are part-time students trying to put themselves through school. It's very frustrating for them as well," he said.​

The canal ice is becoming thinner, so the NCC is asking people to stay off the skateway, said Leduc.