News Release

Published on January 22, 2021

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is pleased to announce that it will create more outdoor space for exercise, in the densest part of the Capital, by opening a section of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, from Fifth Avenue to Somerset Street, for active use only, seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm, starting January 23, 2021. To note, this project will continue until further notice, and could be temporarily interrupted due to the City of Ottawa’s snow removal efforts. When this occurs, we urge all users to exercise caution and be aware of working crews, equipment and signage.

In addition, the NCC will raise the well-known green flag over the iconic Rideau Canal Skateway next week, marking the official opening of its 51st season. Follow our social media channels, which will confirm the exact date as soon as it’s known. As in previous years, the NCC will work to open the entire length of the Skateway, and will update the public as sections open or close over the course of the season. However, to encourage consistency with current public health stay-at-home orders, including to avoid non-essential trips, this season will be like no other.

As the purpose of the Skateway will be to provide space for exercise only, food and beverage concession stands, changing facilities, skate rentals, fire pits and picnic tables will be closed. Sanitization stations will be installed inside washroom facilities, and bi-directional staircases will be made available, where possible. We will also be adding signage requesting people to yield to oncoming traffic on single staircases. The NCC has also installed 100 additional benches for people to lace up their skates, and the Concord entrance will be open once again after years of being closed. Users will be asked to wear masks while on the Skateway.

In order to be consistent with the provincial emergency measures announced last week, and in close consultation with public health officials, we are suggesting that residents across the National Capital Region access those NCC assets closest to their home, within their province of residence. This suggestion is an effort to align with the public health directives related to exercising locally and avoiding non-essential travel.

While the current situation is disappointing for all of us, dispersing use throughout our winter activity network during the current state of emergency is our best chance to ensure that our assets can be used safely and remain open. When these public health restrictions are removed, we look forward to encouraging residents to access all of our assets in the National Capital Region no matter where they are located.

To date, all NCC assets remain accessible to the public, provided that users follow public health directives, as well as NCC preventive measures, at all times. These measures include the following:

  • Stay at least two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
  • Wear a mask or face covering.
  • Wash your hands, and use the on-site hand sanitizer.
  • Respect the capacity limits posted in the washroom facilities.
  • Carry your belongings with you, as there is no access to changing facilities or cubbies.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCC has increased its winter offerings throughout the National Capital Region. From the Greenbelt to Gatineau Park, and through increased funding to the Urban Winter Trails Alliance, there are more than 450 km of winter trails on offer.

Interactive Map, presented by LiUNA!

The best tool to find your way around the Rideau Canal Skateway is the Interactive map, presented by LiUNA! You will find ice conditions per section, access points with stairs and universal access ramps, and washrooms. Concessions and other facilities are also indicated on the map, but they are closed until further notice. 

Rideau Canal Skateway Challenge

If you’re up for a challenge, take part in the Rideau Canal Skateway Challenge, organized in partnership with Virtual Run Canada and Sportstats. Participants can track and share their progress with their friends for free, whether they are on the Skateway or not. The Challenge can be done from anywhere! Those who wish to receive a bib, T-shirt and medal for their accomplishment can do so by paying a nominal fee.


Managed by the NCC since the 1970–1971 season, the 7.8-kilometre Rideau Canal Skateway receives – in normal years - an average of close to one million visits every year, with an average of 25,000 visits each day that it is open for skating.

  • The total ice surface is equivalent to more than 140 National Hockey League rinks, or more than 122 Olympic-sized hockey rinks (223,400 square metres).
  • The Rideau Canal, National Historic Site of Canada and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site since 2007, is managed and operated by Parks Canada.


“Along with its partners, the NCC is pleased to open the Queen Elizabeth Driveway for active use only, along with the iconic Rideau Canal Skateway, creating more outdoor space for exercise during the pandemic. To align with current public health restrictions asking residents to exercise locally and avoid non-essential trips, we suggest, as a temporary measure, that everyone access those NCC assets closest to them. We understand that following the advice of public health officials can be difficult, but we ask for everyone’s cooperation in ensuring that our assets remain safe and open.”
—Tobi Nussbaum, CEO, National Capital Commission


The NCC proudly thanks Parks Canada, which maintains and operates the Rideau Canal.

The NCC is grateful for the support of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), presenting sponsor of the Rideau Canal Skateway. The NCC would also like to thank the following sponsors for their support: Rogers; LiUNA!, presenting sponsor of the Rideau Canal Skateway interactive map; Access Storage – Cubeit, the official provider of the Rideau Canal Skateway storage; Sportstats; Virtual Run Canada; CEECAM; and the Friends of the Rideau Canal Skateway (Claridge, Chartwell, Telus, Scotiabank, WSP, Moneris, GGFL, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada / ServicePlus and Canal Ritz restaurant).

Media information:

Dominique Huras
NCC Media Relations
613-286-0886 (cellular)

Maryam El-Akhrass
NCC Media Relations
343-551-6149 (cellular)