Rideau Canal Skateway to open Thursday

The 51st season of the Rideau Canal Skateway will begin Thursday, the National Capital Commission says.

Most amenities closed, skaters asked to wear masks due to COVID-19

A skater glides along the Rideau Canal Skateway shortly after dawn on Jan. 15, 2017. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The 51st season of the Rideau Canal Skateway will begin Thursday, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says.

A 2.4-kilometre stretch of ice from Pretoria Bridge to the Bank Street Bridge will open to skaters at 8 a.m. on Jan. 28, an NCC news release said Tuesday. 

"The Rideau Canal Skateway team will continue working to open other sections of the world's largest skating rink as soon as ice conditions are safe and weather permits," the NCC said. 

Due to the pandemic, concession stands, skate rentals and changing facilities along the skateway will remain closed, and there will be no picnic tables or fire pits this season, the NCC said.

Sanitizing stands will be added where space allows, and traffic flow on staircases will be controlled.

There will be more benches for people to use while they lace up, and the skateway's Concord Street entrance will reopen this season after remaining closed for years.

The NCC is asking everyone to wear masks while skating on the canal and only use it if it's close to where they live, reminding people travel between regions and over the Ontario-Quebec border is not recommended.

Late opening

This is one of the latest opening days in the skateway's 51-year history. It opened Jan. 26 in 2007, and not until Feb. 2 in 2002.

The 2020 season began Jan. 18 and ended Feb. 26. 2020 also marked the first time that the full 7.8 kilometres of the skateway never opened.

The section of Queen Elizabeth Driveway from Fifth Avenue to Somerset Street is again closed to vehicles from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, as was for months last year.

Snow removal vehicles may sometimes need access, the NCC warned in a news release.

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