Skating and scotch? NCC aiming for bar on Rideau Canal ice

The two-year pilot project would involve setting up a clear plastic igloo on the ice near kilometre zero of the skateway, close to the National Arts Centre and the Château Laurier hotel.

Clear plastic igloo could open up on canal this winter

The NCC is considering bringing a bar to the Rideau Canal Skateway for this year. (Ian Black/CBC)

This winter, you could cap off a leisurely skate on the Rideau Canal with a scotch on the rocks, as the National Capital Commission is considering opening a bar on the historic skateway. 

The NCC is considering a "Bistro on the Ice" pilot project for this season, similar to the outdoor shipping container bistros that launched this summer, according to a briefing note obtained by CBC through access to information. 

The proposal, approved by NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum in April, would see a clear plastic igloo set up on the ice near kilometre zero of the skateway, close to the National Arts Centre and the Château Laurier hotel.

The NCC is still working through the details, but if it succeeds, the igloo bar could become a regular feature. 

"This two-year pilot project would be a feature to visitors for the 50th anniversary of the skateway, with the possibility to be a legacy feature for the following years if the results are conclusive," said the briefing note.

The proposed bar would be located at the downtown end of the skateway near the Shaw Centre, National Arts Centre and the Chateau Laurier. (CBC)

'Right operator'

The NCC declined an interview, but confirmed they are working to bring the idea to life.   

"Building on the success of our bistro in the park initiative, our Rideau Canal Skateway team is currently looking into the feasibility of [the pilot project]," said spokesperson Cédric Pelletier in an email.

The bistro in the park project aimed to set up three pop-up bistros this summer on NCC land. Two of the bistros went ahead, at the Remic Rapids and in Confederation Park, while a third bistro at Patterson Creek was delayed until 2020. 

In the briefing note, the NCC acknowledged there could be issues with a bar on the ice and stressed they need to find just the right operator. 

"Partnering with the right operator on a defined pilot project should be a priority to minimize potential risks," the note said.

The NCC also hopes for a sponsor for the on-ice bar, but wants one that's the "best fit." It notes a shortlist has been prepared that includes the LCBO, NCC tenants and flagship restaurants.

In a hand-written note, Nussbaum applauded the idea, while encouraging staff to consider ways to ensure the bar could remain open if the canal had to close due to poor ice conditions. 


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