Mild January keeping Rideau Canal Skateway closed

January’s mild weather has the Rideau Canal Skateway on thin ice.

If you mention the word ‘winter,’ and ‘Ottawa,’ in the same sentence, many will instantly think of skating on the Rideau Canal.

“It’s tradition,” says Reuben Hofmann, who is visiting his family in Ottawa from Quebec City.

He spent Tuesday afternoon skating on the rink at Landsdowne Park, along with his brother John Hofmann, who is visiting from Georgia.

“If it was open, I would definitely be on the canal,” said John. “Just the history of it, the uniqueness of it, the ‘Ottawaness’ of it.”

While the brothers could see the canal from Landsdowne, they couldn’t skate on it. The red flag is up, and the NCC reminding everyone to not venture out on the ice.

“Our teams continue their work to build the thickness of the ice and waiting for it to crystallize properly,” an NCC spokesperson said in a statement to CTV News.

“The Skateway opens to the public once the surface is at least 30 centimetres thick with good quality ice. For that to happen, we need 10 to 14 days of consecutive cold weather.”

The latest opening day for the world’s largest skating rink was Feb. 2, 2002, during the 2001-2002 skating season. With a week left in January, that date is coming up fast.

Last season, the Skateway opened on Jan. 14, 2022.

Unlike the skateway right now, you need to chillll. ��

In terms of our opening date, we’re not off track. In recent years, our average opening date has been in mid-January.

Check out the average opening dates for the #RideauCanal Skateway: | #ottawa

— Rideau Canal Skateway (@NCC_Skateway) January 6, 2023

The first in-person Winterlude in three years begins on Feb 3. While the canal is the star attraction, Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association, says there's still lots to do if the Skateway is closed.

“From a tourism perspective, in February, Winterlude is it and that’s why it’s important that we promote the fact that if we have a warmer than normal winter, the canal may or may not be open, but here’s a whack of activities that you can still do,” said Ball.

--With files from CTV's Michael Woods.