Ottawa's Rideau Canal Skateway not to open this year due to high temp.
Abnormally higher temperatures are jeopardizing the future of a popular Ottawa attraction.
Due to a mild winter, organizers of the Rideau Canal Skateway, the symbol of Canadian history in the heart of Ottawa, revealed Friday that it will not operate this year for the first time ever.
The Canal is the largest outdoor ice rink in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts an average of 22,000 visitors per day.
"Despite our best efforts, the weather got the best of us for the first time in our history," the Ottawa facility said on its Twitter account.
"We share everyone's disappointment," it added in a statement.
The free Skateway, which goes by Canada's Parliament Hill, the Senate, and Carleton University, is an icy 7.9-kilometer (5-mile) thoroughfare in winter and the pride of Ottawa.
However, it requires the mercury to remain between -10 and -20 degrees C (14 degrees F to -4 F) for nearly 15 days for the ice rink to open safely.
Despite the cooler temperatures in the past 24 hours, it was not enough to reverse a scenario that many people dreaded. The Skateway management said it "remains unsafe for skating."
In mid-February, Ottawa's tourists and residents, who sometimes skate to work, told AFP reporters about their disappointment.
"I would have liked to be able to skate on it, but the best I can do now is to simply observe it," said Lani Simmons, 46, who is from Bermuda.
With abnormally high temperatures in December and January, Ottawa is expected, according to officials, to record its third warmest winter on record.
Site officials have been studying climate change effects on the canal for several years and say they are "preparing for it," including trying to better understand how ice forms.
The opening of the canal, which has been usually accessible for 30 to 60 days from the end of December, has been pushed back on the calendar in recent years. In 2020, it was not possible to skate on the canal until January 28.