Ottawa

'This is for Canada': Meet the man in charge of the Parliament Hill rink ice

Randy Watt has been in the rink business for about 35 years, but he's never had a job quite like this.

Randy Watt and his team of about 15 zamboni drivers have a high-stakes job

Randy Watt and his team of zamboni drivers are in charge of keeping the skating rink on Parliament Hill in pristine condition. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Randy Watt has been in the ice rink business for about 35 years, but he's never had a job quite like this.

Watt is the director of operations at the Bell Sensplex, but right now he and his team of about 15 Zamboni drivers are in charge of keeping the skating rink on Parliament Hill in pristine condition.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us," he said outside the rink Friday. 

"It'll never happen again, and it's a real thrill to be sitting right next to the Parliament Buildings."

Dream job for a zamboni driver

The rink has a refrigeration system under the ice surface to keep it cool, regardless of the actual outdoor temperatures. Watt's team has to make sure the ice surface doesn't crack or thaw when the forecast fluctuates, he said.  

"Minus 40 is good. Plus 10 is getting a little scary," he said. "And rain is even worse."

Watt's team clears skaters off the ice every hour so that a Zamboni can resurface the rink. 

A zamboni resurfaces the ice on the Parliament Hill skating rink every hour. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Despite the high stakes, it's a dream job for a Zamboni driver, Watt said.

"This is for Canada," he said. "You can flood indoor rinks and be indoors, but this is outside and it's at the Parliament Building. It's a thrill." 

Watt and his team will be keeping a close eye on the rink until it closes for good at the end of February

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