World’s Largest Ice Rink Returns To Canada
The world’s largest natural ice rink returns to Canada with the reopening of the Rideau Canal Skateway. Scheduled to open this Sunday morning, it marks its first return in two years, as announced by the National Capital Commission (NCC). Spanning 7.8 kilometres (4.9 miles), the iconic Skateway is a cherished part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ottawa, attracting skating enthusiasts globally.
The canal’s closure last season, the first since its opening over 50 years ago, was attributed to insufficient ice formation due to a milder winter, which is believed to be a consequence of climate change. However, this year, thanks to more typical winter temperatures and lessons learned from previous challenges, the ice rink returns to Canada with a 1.9-kilometre section between Pretoria Bridge and Bank Street being made accessible for skating enthusiasts.
The reopening is a significant moment for the NCC, which requires specific conditions for the Skateway’s operation – the ice must reach at least 12 inches (30 cm) thickness, achievable after 10 to 14 consecutive days of temperatures ranging between -20 to -10 Celsius (-4 to 14 Fahrenheit).
In light of the impact of climate change, the NCC, in collaboration with the Standards Council of Canada, has conducted a climate change risk assessment for the Skateway. Under moderate emission scenarios, projections suggest that future seasons might see less than 40 days of skating approximately half the time.
The reopening of the Rideau Canal Skateway this year marks a revival of a beloved winter tradition while simultaneously highlighting the increasing challenges of climate change. This skateway has been a central feature of Canada’s winter for over half a century, offering a unique and picturesque skating experience along its 7.8-kilometre stretch in Ottawa, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last year, the canal remained closed for the first time since its opening due to unseasonably mild winter temperatures, a direct consequence of climate change. This closure was a stark reminder of the growing environmental crisis and its impact on longstanding traditions and natural phenomena.
However, this year’s return, facilitated by colder temperatures and the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) proactive measures, brings back the joy and excitement associated with this historic skateway. It’s a testament to resilience and adaptability amid climatic adversities. The Rideau Canal’s reopening is a celebration for the local community and visitors and a call to acknowledge and address the broader implications of climate change that threaten such treasured experiences. As we embrace the return of this winter delight, it also encourages a deeper reflection on our environmental responsibilities and the urgent need to combat climate change.
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