Only visit Rideau Canal and Gatineau Park during off-peak hours, NCC urges
A person makes their way along the Rideau Canal Skateway on its opening day in Ottawa, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- With mild temperatures in the forecast this weekend, the National Capital Commission is encouraging people to wait until off-peak periods if they plan to visit the Rideau Canal Skateway and popular trails.
"Weekends from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. are the busiest and, if possible, should be avoided in order to prevent crowding and help ensure safe physical distancing," said the NCC in a statement.
"Dispersing use throughout the NCC's vast winter activity network and at all times of the day is the best way to ensure that all of our recreational assets can be used safely and remain open."
In Gatineau Park, the peak times are between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends.
NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum tells CTV News Ottawa that with the lifting of the stay-at-home order, the NCC suspects people will want to get outside this weekend.
"We want to encourage them to do so, but there are a couple of spots that we know risk getting crowded at peak periods," said Nussbaum Friday evening.
"We're asking people to think about finding alternate times to use the skateway and the Gatineau Park Chelsea sector, that can get a little busy at those peak afternoon weekends. So the suggestion is by all means get outside and enjoy these wonderful assets that we're offering to the people of the nation's capital, but maybe don't go to the these crowded spots in those peak afternoon weekend periods."
Nussbaum suggests going to the Rideau Canal Skateway or Gatineau Park in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Newly released statistics showed there was an average of 19,799 visits a day to the Rideau Canal Skateway during the week of Feb. 8 to 14. During the 2020 skating season, there was an average of 22,000 visits per day.
An average of 1,200 people are visiting the SJAM Winter Trail a day, compared with 314 visits last winter.
When skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway and using other NCC assets this weekend, the NCC encourages you to:
- Stay at least six feet apart from those outside your household
- Wear a mask while on the Rideau Canal Skateway and indoors
- Wash your hands regularly, or use hand sanitizer
- Respect capacity limits posted in washroom facilities