NCC mulls replacement for Rideau Canal Skateway. “QED likely”: spokesperson

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Here is an article from today’s newspaper:

This winter was yet another disappointing season for avid and not so avid skaters in Ottawa. There were only ten days of skating possible and only on one third of the Rideau Canal. Not only that, these ten days were spread over three different periods.

“That’s not making maintaining the Skateway worthwhile anymore”, says Anne-Marie Demers from the NCC, the much beloved federal agency in charge of the Skateway. “We put a lot of resources into it and the return is minimal. We have to start looking at alternatives”.

“As NCC, we need to provide this to all Canadians, but with three days here and there, you can’t plan a fun filled trip to Ottawa anymore”, she continues.

According to sources, the NCC has looked into several options such as Parliament Hill and Wellington Street as well as Confederation Park. But the first two are not flat and the last one is too small. “We need to provide space for 20,000 people on a sunny afternoon”, says Demers, “and Confederation Park is not going to cut it”.

A screenshot of the newspaper newspaper announcing the skateway might be moved to the Queen Elizabeth Driveway
Screenshot of today’s newspaper

Bruce Papineau, manager outdoor recreation at the NCC jumps in: “The issue really is that we lose a lot of time waiting for the ice to become strong enough. We may have a cold snap and the ice is 20 cm thick, and we can’t let anyone on the ice because it has to be like, 30 cm minimum, ça c’est grave”.

“Let’s face it, the ice robot is cute, but by the time it has cleared the Skateway, it’s Canada Day”

“Ideally”, Papineau continues, “we’ll have a flat surface, layer 5-10 cm of water on it over 2-3 nights and Bob’s your uncle. There is no concern about vehicles going through the ice and it freezes up much faster. Let’s face it, the ice robot is cute, but by the time it has cleared the Skateway, it’s Canada Day”.

A photo of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, there is snow on the sides and no cars on the road
The quiet Queen Elizabeth Drive is the likely candidate for a brand new Skateway off the canal

At the NCC headquarters, Toni Nooteboom explains that the search for an alternative is almost finished. “It really comes down to two options, one of the Parkways or Queen Elizabeth Drive. Our preference goes to the QED as the closure of Colonel By would be inconvenient for dignitaries arriving from Ottawa International Airport.” Nooteboom continues: ”We also have to think of the several sponsors, they aren’t going to hang in for much longer if they can’t make their investments back. So we are literally standing with our backs against the wall”.

The QED is already popular among runners, walkers, wheelchair users and cyclists during the summer. The mayor too goes out for his runs, and enjoys X-ing (formerly known as Tweeting) and Instagramming about it. While the mayor prefers motorised traffic on the QED, he understands that skating is an important part of Ottawa’s identity. “I could be convinced that closing the QED is a good thing, but no longer than a month because Lansdowne needs to be accessible”. “And”, he adds wryly, “I will be counting skaters”.

A photo of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway intersection with somerset, there is snow on the sides and no cars on the road
There are early stage plans to build a wooden footbridge across the QED Skateway to provide pedestrians with a safe way to cross the frozen surface of the QED Skateway in winter. The bridge will be off limits for the rest of the year, with chains across the stairs to keep pedestrians off the bridge

Even when Landsdowne is mostly deadsville? A resolute yes from the mayor. “I know a taxpayer in Herbert Corners, ON who takes the QED everyday. He told me it would devastate his wood carving home business if he can’t take the QED. So it is all about a balanced approach”.

So what’s the plan? Back to Anne-Marie Demers. “This year we hope to test a stretch of QED from downtown to Fifth Ave. We’ll close off the side streets with 2*6’s and then flood the QED in stages. Two larger ice robots will be flooding and sweeping the QED skateway at night. We will be stuffing them with AI, so that they know the difference between asphalt and ice and we won’t need anybody there to supervise anymore. Bruce can run the robots from his nightstand as a matter of speaking”.

A photo of people skating on the canal. It is a cloudy day. There is sign hanging over the staircases saying "Bank north"
Only a short section of the Rideau Canal Skateway was open this year, and it was closed for the entire season last year. The signs will remain, but turned towards the road when the QED becomes the new skateway

Quips Papineau: “We already have a name for the new skateway: “the SQEDway”, which doesn’t really translate in French well, so we are looking into a contest for a French name ’cause Piste de patinage sur glace de l’allée Reine Elizabeth is just a bit too long”.

But what about the Skateway on the Canal? “The Skateway on the canal is finished, basta, fini”, says Nooteboom. “I already cycled to work early March, what does that tell you?”

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9 Comments

  1. Even though I belatedly noticed this post in my feed just today, I knew for certain that it was an April Fool’s joke upon reading that the QED skateway proposal was supported by our mayor.

    • A QED canal skate way will service big tourism money and sponsorships for our city and local businesses yet our mayor is worried about one “tax paying wood-worker in Herbert’s corner” (???) and “will be counting skaters.” We elected a moron.

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