Ottawa’s Rideau Canal reopened briefly for visitors on Sunday but will close again in the evening as the National Capital Commission tries to put the skate back in Skateway.

A nearly two-kilometre stretch of the canal between the Pretoria Bridge and Bank Street reopened to visitors at noon as the National Capital Commission promised it would.

But that opening came with a caveat: leave your blades at home.

That’s because an overnight snowfall kept crews from flooding the ice.

The commission issued a social media post earlier in the day saying the ice was thick enough to be safe but was in poor condition and visitors were encouraged to walk rather than skate.

The Skateway will close again at 6 p.m., and the commission says it will provide an update on conditions and reopening plans on Monday.

Despite Sunday’s ice conditions — and ongoing flurries in the city — people still flocked to the canal, both with blades and without. Many who opted to ignore the warning found themselves spending as much time falling as they did skating.

Others heeded the advice and were seen trudging through snow accumulations up and down the canal. Many others rewarded their efforts with a stop at a BeaverTails stand.

This is the second year in a row that warm weather is keeping the canal from living up to its winter hype. In 2023 it didn’t open at all for the first time in its 53-year history.

This year a one-kilometre stretch opened for just four days in late January before the temperature went back above zero and it was again shut down.

The Skateway is normally the centrepiece of Ottawa’s Winterlude festival, which is set to close Monday after two weeks without the canal playing much of a role.

A spokeswoman for the National Capital Commission wouldn’t say whether any additional sections are likely to open this year. She said the focus for now is on the Pretoria to Bank stretch.

The forecast does not look promising for more skating. Temperatures are expected to go above zero on five of the next seven days.


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