Caution! The Skateway is a natural ice surface.

It may be uneven, with possible cracks and bumps, and snow-covered despite our best maintenance efforts. The NCC recommends that you remain attentive to Skateway conditions during your visit in order to reduce the risk of falling and injury. It is also prohibited for any person to access the areas outside the Skateway perimeter (skating surface) due to unstable ice under the snow cover.

Any person using the Skateway, or participating in events taking place on the Skateway, recognizes the risks associated with such activities.

Safety tips

Safety is the key to an enjoyable skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway. And it’s important to remember that safety begins with you. As with any sport, accidents can happen.

Here are a few tips to help you enjoy pleasant and safe outdoor experience. The Skateway is patrolled by experienced first aid attendants who can provide help, if needed.

  • Know the flag system: A green flag means that the Skateway is open; a red flag means that it’s closed.
  • Watch for cracks in the ice.
  • Avoid the snow-covered edges as they are not safe.
  • Warm up if you feel chilled. There are four heated change rooms located at various points along the Skateway, and one on land at Patterson Creek.
  • The public can access open sections of the Skateway 24 hours a day, but should note that caution is advised in the evenings and at night, as Skateway maintenance crews operate primarily during those times. Visit our Ice conditions webpage for operational updates.

Recommended equipment

You’ll need the following:

  • warm clothing
  • skates (avoid figure skates, as the picks tend to catch on bumps and cracks in the ice surface)
  • a certified and properly fitting hockey or ski helmet
  • wrist guards, as well as elbow and knee protection

For more information about helmet safety, on and off the ice, visit the City of Ottawa website.


The following are not permitted on the Skateway:

  • dogs and other pets (with the exception of service dogs)
  • bicycles, skis and snowshoes
  • hockey sticks and pucks
  • alcoholic beverages
  • smoking and vaping

Walking on the ice is permitted along the edges of the Skateway. However, it is safer to walk on the plowed multi-use pathways that run alongside the Rideau Canal in several places.

First aid

The first aid trailer is located on the ice at the Fifth Avenue rest area.

Skate patrollers trained in first aid and CPR are on the Skateway daily at the following times:

  • Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 9 pm
  • Friday to Sunday, 9 am to 10 pm

For immediate assistance, call the skate patrol at 613-565-1899.

In case of serious injury, call 9-1-1.

Defibrillators are also available in the change rooms at Skateway rest areas.

Lost children: What to do

If you encounter a lost child

  1. Greet and comfort the lost child. The child should never be left alone.
  2. Immediately contact the skate patrol.
  3. Only water may be offered to the child. No food or beverage of any other type may be offered in order to avoid problems with possible allergies.
  4. A member of the skate patrol will take charge of the child, and will use the walkie-talkie to inform rest of the skate patrol team about the lost child, who will then be taken to the first aid trailer at Fifth Avenue.
  5. If the child’s parent or guardian cannot be located after one hour, a member of the skate patrol will contact the Ottawa Police Service.

If you have lost your child

  1. Immediately contact the skate patrol, and provide a description of the child.
  2. The skate patrol will take charge of looking for your child.
  3. When your child is found, you must go to the first aid trailer at Fifth Avenue to sign a report. You must present proof of identity in order for your address and telephone number to be verified.
  4. If the child is not found after one hour, a member of the skate patrol team will contact the Ottawa Police Service.

Write your name and contact information on a card and place it in your child’s pocket. This will allow skate patrollers to quickly contact you, should your child become lost. Also, when you arrive at the Skateway, take a photo of your child, showing their height and the clothing that they’re wearing. This will make it easier for the skate patrol to identify your child, should your child become lost.

Ottawa Police Service: 613-236-1222
Skate patrol: 613-565-1899

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