NCC still hopeful Rideau Canal Skateway can open this season

There is still hope the world famous Rideau Canal Skateway will be open for Winterlude.

This season’s closure has been a disappointment not only for skaters and visitors but also for local businesses.

The sharpening wheel sits idle as rental skates are ready to go at Cycos on Hawthorne, just steps away from the Rideau Canal. Co-owner Gordon Martin says a typical weekend would see his drying mats covered in skates.

But this skating season has been anything but typical.

“The canal is like a lifeline,” Martin said. “It’s part of what our business model’s around, the canal and pathways around there for our bike rentals as well and skate rentals so, it’s a big deal for us. For sure.”

The Rideau Canal Skateway is still closed and already past the latest opening in its history of Feb. 2, 2002. Martin says this late season is different for Cycos when compared to two decades ago.

“There’s amenities that people can use like, say, the Rink of Dreams and the refrigerated rink at Landsdowne and you also have the guys that have the skating rinks through the forests and stuff like that. A lot of people are renting for there.”

The Rideau Canal first welcomed skaters in January 1971 and since then, not one season has been missed.

The NCC remains hopeful. In a statement to CTV News on Monday, a spokesperson writes:

“The colder temperatures of the past few days allowed the teams to flood the ice several times. We’re continuing some of our preparation work while we assess the results of the flooding. We look forward to welcoming skaters to the Rideau Canal Skateway soon.”

Skating the canal often means a stop for an iconic BeaverTail but, with the canal closed, no customers have been able to stop by the huts so far this season.

“Some loss, certainly tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent, and not a penny has come back across the counter,” says BeaverTails founder Grant Hooker.

“We’ve been here 42 years, if this had happened in the first five or 10 years, I would be probably too depressed to talk to you today but fortunately, we’ve saved … for not a rainy day – but a warm day.”

Winterlude runs until Feb. 20.

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