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Photo: emrold (Apt613 Flickr Pool)

Skating gets the O.K. at Ottawa’s outdoor rinks

By Apartment613 on January 19, 2021


Here’s where to get your skate on this winter.

Thanks to a big volunteer effort, many of Ottawa’s outdoor rinks are opening this month. To the delight of folks from Barrhaven to Orléans, dozens of neighbourhood rinks are up and running and more will be ready in the coming days to welcome skaters. The city also operates four refrigerated rinks (see below). Unfortunately, hockey is not permitted under current guidelines so leave your sticks, pucks, and nets at home for now.

The current provincial guidelines say masks are required off-ice (around the rink) but not *mandatory* on the ice. We encourage you to wear a mask anyway and we’ll throw in a quick plug here for Thawrih—the Ottawa company that makes a high-quality, quick-dry face mask for runners and active folks.

We at Apartment613 understand the urge to get away, and we really feel for others who, like us, live in apartments or small homes in dense areas of Ottawa. However, please use this resource only to find a rink close to your home. We are still living in a pandemic, so there’s every reason for us as a community to be extra careful. Please don’t travel to far-flung neighbourhoods in search of the perfect rink (“the ice is always cleaner…”) and don’t go in large groups. There are Québec rinks in the list below (lots of readers log in from Gatineau) but if you have to cross a bridge to get there, it’s probably too far to begin with.

Health care workers are counting on us to stay close to home and wear masks outside as much as possible. While the risk of outdoor transmission remains lower, it’s still possible to contract COVID-19 from an infectious person outdoors, says Dr. Vera Etches.

Refrigerated Rinks: City Hall, Canterbury Park, Lansdowne Park, Ben Franklin Place

Registration for skate times at one of Ottawa’s refrigerated outdoor rinks (City Hall, Canterbury Park, Lansdowne Park, and Ben Franklin Place) can be booked at The City of Ottawa has implemented a reservation system at these four rinks to limit the number of people skating at rinks to 25 people at a time, in order to ensure physical distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Reservations can be made up to two days in advance starting at 6am daily.

Community Rinks

Did you know most of Ottawa’s neighbourhood rinks are run by volunteers? There are hundreds of folks across the city who put in hours packing the snow, flooding ice, building boards, and maintaining these rinks all winter long. If you see your operator, be sure to thank them for their hard work!

Visit the community website for the location and latest conditions of a rink near you. This crowd-sourced database lists more than 250 local rinks around town.

The Rideau Canal

While the Rideau Canal is still being prepared for skating season, the National Capital Commission has outlined its COVID-19 safety measures, which include self-screening, physical distancing, hand-washing (BYO hand sanitizer), and wearing masks. They’re also encouraging skaters to download the COVID Alert app.

Rideau Hall

The Rideau Hall skating rink will not be taking new reservations until further notice. The latest news is that Rideau Hall will remain closed until January 25 at the earliest. Check here for updates.

Forest Skating

In the last few years we’ve seen cool new skating options pop up on the outskirts of Ottawa, like Patinage en Forêt at Lac-des-Loups in Quebec and a 3km trail through an apple orchard at RiverOak Estate (out near Russell and Metcalfe). Check their websites daily for opening hours and updates to COVID-19 safety measures. Patinage en Forêt even updates their Facebook page to let folks know when they’ve sold out of tickets for the day.

Rivers and Lakes

We’re reluctant to recommend skating on open ice over one of Ottawa’s rivers or lakes… These aren’t maintained and there’s always the risk of ice cracking. Though we can’t blame you for wanting to get out of town and away from possible crowds at a rink. If you do choose to go out on fresh water, please brush up on these ice safety tips beforehand.

Backyard Rinks

What better way to comply with the stay-at-home order than to bring the ice to your own backyard? If you have space in your backyard, time, and energy to spare, building your own rink is a great way to avoid contact with others and further reduce any chance of virus transmission (be sure to do your research if you’re a backyard rink newbie!). Best part of a backyard rink? You can set up your hockey net and practice your wrist shot until arenas open back up. For inspiration check out this showcase of Backyard Rinks from the Ottawa Area. Maximum capacity regulations still apply, so no neighbourhood hockey tournaments!