Rideau Canal Skateway closes for the season, one of the rink’s longest in years

People skate under the Queen Elizabeth Driveway to Paterson Creek on the Rideau Canal Skateway on its opening day, in Ottawa on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

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.

READ MORE: Most of Rideau Canal Skateway opens as cold snap hits Ottawa (Jan. 11, 2019)

“[They] determined that current and forecasted weather conditions are negatively impacting the ice on the Rideau Canal Skateway and are not conducive to repairing it any further this season,” the NCC said in a news release.

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.

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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.

WATCH (Feb. 26, 2015): Skating down the Rideau Canal

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.”