Building a skating rink on Parliament Hill

This year marks 150 years since the confederation of Canada. It's our birthday and we're celebrating.

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One of the Canada150 celebrations includes a skating rink built on Parliament Hill. 

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This week, the boards have been set up, the refrigeration coils laid down, and the rink given its first coats of water.


Currently, the great lawn on Parliament Hill is a construction zone. 


The rink is scheduled to open on December 7 -- in two weeks.  On Friday it was announced that, rather than close at the end of the month with the Canada150 celebrations, the rink will remain open to the public into February.


So... does this give us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host Ottawa's Fourth Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate on one of the most iconic locations in the country?


The final decision will be up to those who will organize the Ottawa event, but it's not likely Parliament Hill will replace the Rideau Canal Skateway or the skating park of the Aberdeen Pavilion.


For one thing, you'll have to book your ice time in advance. This is typical for public skating at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General, but it's not likely the Scottish Society of Ottawa will want to try to register all participants in advance.

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Among the other constraints, certain rules will be applied to skating on the new Parliament Hill Rink.

  • No hockey sticks and/or pucks;
  • No figure skating;
  • No carrying of children;
  • No rough play or speed games;
  • No racing...

All of this is pretty standard for public facilities. The rules are relaxed for special occasions.  The Rideau Canal Skateway, for example, hosted the world's largest shinny tournament


But the security requirements of Parliament Hill require extraordinary measures that would work against our being able to attract large numbers of skaters -- especially as we highlight Scotland's "Year of Young People."

Imagine trying to attract a young cohort with the follow restrictions:

  • No headsets;
  • No cell phones.

Note that the rules don't preclude kilts!

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While I suspect the organizers will want to stick with the official event at the world's largest skating rink, and have the Aberdeen Pavilion as a fallback, I'm certain that from December through February, some of us will show up at the Parliament Hill ice in a manner to celebrate Canada's Scottish heritage.

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