On Sunday night, the National Capital Commission closed the Rideau Canal Skateway for the season, one of the outdoor rink’s lengthiest stretches over the last 15 years, according to the federal agency.
After inspecting the Skateway’s ice conditions earlier on Sunday, NCC crews concluded they would only deteriorate further as winter’s grip on Ottawa loosens, bringing milder and wetter weather.
The canal’s 2018-2019 skating season kicked off on Dec. 30, 2018, lasting 71 days — the longest since the 2013-2014 season, according to numbers provided by the NCC.
Out of those 71 days this season, the outdoor rink was open to skaters for 59 days — up from 35 days during the 2017-2018 season and 25 days the season prior.
The 2014-2015 season also boasted 59 skating days, according to the NCC.
By March 7, 2019, the NCC had counted 1,358,663 visits to the Rideau Canal Skateway this season. Feb. 16 was the busiest day on the ice, with 95,632 visits, according to the NCC.
In announcing the end of the season, the Crown corporation — which manages the Skateway — warned that the ice surface is thinning and unsafe in many places, and urged the public to stay off the canal.
“Water on the ice surface may hide serious hazards,” the NCC said. “Observe the red flags, barricades and signs installed at Skateway access points.”