Toronto

Bentway skating trail opens in frigid cold but a slight warm up looms

Relief from the frigid cold temperatures is on the horizon, but not before the arctic air gripping Toronto makes a last stand on Sunday.

An extreme cold warning is in effect for the city, but temperatures are set to rise next week

The 220-metre skating trail, nestled beneath the Gardiner Expressway, opened Saturday morning. (CBC)

Relief from the frigid cold temperatures is on the horizon, but not before the arctic air gripping Toronto makes a last stand on Sunday.

The mercury is forecast to rise to –6 C by midday Sunday, but wind chill will make it feel more like –29, even colder than Saturday's –24. An extreme cold warning remains in effect for the city. 

For those desperately in need of respite from the cold, things are set to warm up by the start of the next work week, when temperatures will crawl above 0 C for the first time in weeks. A high of 1 C is in store for Monday, though things will cool off slightly again on Tuesday.

The deep freeze, however, was not enough to keep crowds away from the new Bentway skating rink, a serpentine 220-metre path of ice that slithers beneath the Gardiner Expressway. The trail was officially opened Saturday morning.

"The Bentway is a great innovation for the city," said Cynthia Mazur, adding that she decided to head out despite the cold because of all the work that went into transforming the formerly barren site.

Ryan Carr said his family wanted to show their support for the city opening up more space for public use. (CBC)

"It's important that we can utilize parts of the city that are just being wasted."

Some 70,000 people live within walking distance to the skating trail, including about 2,500 children 10 years old or younger. 

Ryan Carr said he and his family attended the opening skate because "even though it's cold, it's still a great day.

"The more areas they open up for the community, the better it is. So we wanted to come out and support it," he told CBC Toronto. 

The Bentway skating trail, as it's being called, was built with a $25 million donation from a Toronto philanthropist. (CBC)

The project became reality with a $25 million donation from Judy Matthews, a philanthropist with her finger on the pulse of urban architecture.

"Our goal was to create a space for the surrounding neighborhood where many residents who don't have a front yard or backyard in which to play can come together and enjoy each other's company, new experiences and the outdoors," Matthews said. 

"The Bentway is a work in progress but it comes alive with all of you."

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