Skating on the City of Ottawa’s outdoor rinks is a popular pastime for residents and a great way to keep active during colder weather. Ottawa’s outdoor rink program is very unique as the ice surfaces are primarily constructed and maintained by community volunteers.
The City’s Parks and Recreation department are currently tracking forecasted snowfall and temperatures. In order to create base ice, 10 to 15cm of accumulated snow is required with evening temperatures consistently below -10 degrees Celsius for a duration of five to seven consecutive days. Ideally, construction of base ice begins around December 15 but due to fluctuating weather patterns, achieving base ice has not been possible until early January in recent years. Creating base ice is a labor-intensive process that includes packing of the snow and applying 12 coats of water within a five to seven-day cold period.
Volunteers will do their best to remove snow from the ice surface in a timely manner. In general, residents can expect that minor snowfalls will be cleared from the rink within 12 hours and major snowfalls (10+ cm) will be cleared within 24 hours. Shovels will often be available at the rink, and we encourage rink users to assist with snow removal.
In recent years, we have experienced several periods of rain followed by mild weather, which make it difficult for volunteers to maintain the ice. During warmer weather, there is little that volunteers can do until the colder weather returns. It is crucial that the public stay off the rink during mild weather. Walking on the rink during mild weather will cause damage to the rink’s surface and make it incredibly challenging for volunteers to get the ice back to a smooth surface.
Skating Tips for Residents
• Rink users should wear a CSA approved hockey helmet at all times.
• Children under the age of 7 should be accompanied by a responsible person aged 14 and up.
• Respect signage indicating the rink is closed. It means volunteers have recently flooded or the ice is too soft for skating.
• Avoid walking on the rink, as this is hazardous and damages the ice surface.
• Keep all pets off the rinks. Please do not use boarded rinks as dog runs.
• For the safety of users, hockey is not permitted on puddle rinks (non-boarded rinks).
• Hours of operation and access to warming facilities (where available) for supervised rinks is determined by the local community operator at each location.
• Take the time to thank the volunteers who dedicate their time to creating a rink in your community and lend a helping hand when possible.
• Report any site hazards or deficiencies to 311 or the Seasonal Recreation Office.
Ottawa has a unique landscape with a high number of naturally occurring hills on City property which are appealing to residents to use for sledding activities. Although this makes oversight and management challenging, the City takes every reasonable precaution to manage risk for activities that take place on its property, including sledding.
In order to mitigate risks associated with sledding, City staff have designated over 60 hills as “approved sledding hills”. These locations have had site risk inspections completed, sledding hill safety signage has been installed and protective measures such as hay bags and foam padding have been installed as added safety measures. Approved sledding hills are listed on ottawa.ca/sledding and are the only hills located on City property considered reasonably safe for sledding.
As a result of the large number of naturally occurring hills located on City property, staff cannot be aware of sledding activities taking place on all hilly landscapes not designated for sledding. Staff have identified over 30 hills located on City property that have been inspected and identified as not reasonably safe for sledding. Signage indicating that sledding is not safe at these locations has been installed to warn residents of the dangers. I
Sledding Tips for Residents:
•Only sled at designated approved sledding hills. A full listing can be found at ottawa.ca/sledding
• Always wear a proper helmet – ski, snowboard or CSA certified hockey helmet
• Check the weather before sledding and avoid sledding during icy conditions.
• Sit or kneel on your sled and avoid going headfirst.
Residents with questions regarding the general operation of the outdoor rink program or the city’s sledding hills are invited to contact the Seasonal Recreation Office: