The National Capital Commission has cleared another five kilometres of the Rideau Canal Skateway for skating.

Beginning Friday, skaters can travel a seven-kilometre stretch from Dow’s Lake to the Corkstown pedestrian footbridge. The rest area at Patterson Creek will also open.

Ice tests conducted along the length of the Skateway showed the ice had reached at least 12 inches of thickness.

At the beginning of the skate season, Alain Nantel, who is responsible for the ice, said the NCC tests the canal daily in about 40 locations.

Using an auger, they drill out a core sample to measure the depth of the ice, but Nantel said they are also concerned about the quality of the ice.

Ideally, they are looking for at least 12 inches of clear, solid ice. Ice that is cracked or opaque is considered lower quality.

The best quality ice is usually in the middle of Dow’s Lake where the water is deepest. Nantel said the narrow, shallow parts of the canal are more vulnerable to undercurrents created by rain and melting snow.

“In places like Dow’s Lake and near Fifth Avenue, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. But in places where it’s more shallow and narrow like between Bank and Bronson downtown, then there’s more decay of the ice,” he said.

On New Years’ Day, the NCC opened two kilometres between Pretoria Bridge and Bank Street.
Only an 800-metre section between the Corkstown pedestrian bridge and Rideau Street remain closed. The NCC is asking people not to venture onto the closed section of the Skateway where ice is considered unsafe.

The Rideau Canal is one of the official sites for Winterlude, which kicks off Feb. 6.

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