The latest wrinkle in the $4.3-million Canada 150 Rink â itâs too cold to play hockey there
|National Post 28 Dec 2017 at 11:54|
An outdoor childrenâs hockey tournament â one of the primary justifications for building a $4.3-million hockey rink on Parliament Hill â has just been cancelled because itâs too cold in Ottawa.
Hockey on the Hill, touted as the centrepiece of the Canada 150 Rink, is instead being played on some of Ottawaâs permanent indoor rinks.
âDue to the excessive cold, ice conditions will not allow for the games to be safely played outdoors at the Canada 150 Rink,â wrote tournament organizers in a Wednesday tweet.
On both Wednesday and Thursday, Ottawa was subject to an extreme cold warning. Temperatures dipped below -20 C, with wind chill making it seem as low as -35.
The Canada 150 rink, first opened Dec. 6, was roundly criticized for explicitly banning hockey on its surface. A series of strict rules, in fact, banned âfigure skating,â âracingâ and âhockey sticks and/or pucks.â
The only exception was to be Hockey on the Hill, when the rink would be closed to public skating and set aside for a tournament of peewee hockey teams flown in from across Canada.
Those teams â 32 of them in all â have indeed been flown to Ottawa and put up in hotels, but they will instead be playing at indoor facilities. If they want, however, players will be able to take a token skate on the rink.
âCanada 150 teams travelling from across the country will be provided an opportunity to skate on the Canada 150 Rink when their schedule permits,â reads a tweet by the Bell Capital Cup.
The rink itself cost $4.3 million, with some of that expense attributable to a specialized cooling system that is currently irrelevant, given the temperature. Another $1.3 million was put towards the logistics of Hockey on the Hill.
The program chose 16 girlsâ and 16 boysâ peewee teams from regions across Canada. They were then taken to the capital at government expense to play in a special Canada 150 division of the Bell Capital Cup.
In less than 3 weeks, 32 teams from across the country will be playing on this incredible rink. #Canada150
En moins de trois semaines, 32 Ă©quipes de partout au pays joueront sur cette patinoire incroyable. #Ottawa #Hockey
Photo by/par: Landon Entwistle pic.twitter.com/6PrVuRrZcI
When the federal government faced criticism for the surprising expense of the rink, Minister of Canadian Heritage MĂ©lanie Joly used the coming tournament to justify the project.
The minister said the rink would âsupport important programming for communities and children.â In early November, in response to criticism from Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, she that it was âa place where people in Ottawa and from across the country could engage and have fun.â
If temperatures rise before New Yearâs Eve, the Canada 150 division may still play its championship games on Parliament Hill.
The late-December shutout due to cold weather is only the latest episode in the saga of the multimillion-dollar rink.
It was initially heavily criticized because it was to be open for only three weeks in December. In the face of pressure, however, Joly ordered the rink to remain open until February.
While the cold snap has devastated skating plans for the Canada 150 rink, it has been a boon to another outdoor Ottawa ice rink: the Rideau Canal Skateway. The frozen Rideau Canal, located only a short walk from Parliament Hill, holds the record as the worldâs largest skating rink.Â
The recent spate of low temperatures is helping to build the canalâs ice surface, ensuring an earlier-than-expected opening date.Â Â
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