Stay off the Rideau Canal this week as temperatures rise, warns NCC

Onlookers watch as crews flood the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa in January 2022. The NCC warns people that though they may see work crews on the skateway, the ice is still unsafe for skating conditions this week. (Alexander Behne/CBC - image credit)
Onlookers watch as crews flood the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa in January 2022. The NCC warns people that though they may see work crews on the skateway, the ice is still unsafe for skating conditions this week. (Alexander Behne/CBC - image credit)

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is warning people to stay off the Rideau Canal Skateway ahead of rising temperatures in the Ottawa region.

The ice is "dangerously thin" with water levels beneath the ice varying from about one metre to 4.3 metres deep along the canal between downtown and Dows Lake, the NCC said in a public service announcement Tuesday. The commission manages the skateway, the world's largest skating rink.

Temperatures in Ottawa are expected to rise to a high –1C Wednesday and –3 C for Thursday and Friday, according to Environment Canada's forecast.

"The presence of work crews on the canal in the coming days must not be construed as a sign that the ice surface is stable," reads the NCC statement.

The skateway typically opens in mid-January when the ice thickness reaches about 30 centimetres, explained the NCC.

The commission says it will open the skateway to the public for its 53rd season "as quickly as possible" when it's safe to do so.

Last year, the Rideau Canal Skateway season lasted 41 days, but the previous season was the shortest in a decade at 29 days. Researchers predict deep freeze cycles will continue to shorten.