A skating rink on Parliament Hill that gained national attention for its multi-million-dollar price tag and laundry list of rules opened to the public on Thursday.
Dozens of skaters who reserved slots were given 40-minute intervals to pack in as many laps as possible.
The Canada 150 rink was designed to celebrate the sesquicentennial, and it rests on the east lawn of Parliament Hill in the shadow of the Peace Tower. It’s the first time the government commissioned a rink on the public lawn.
The rink was initially expected to cost $5.6 million, but that number could surpass $7-million after the government extended the ice time for Ottawa’s Winterlude festival.
More than 40,000 skaters will have the chance to try the rink before it closes on Feb. 28.
Those keen to strap on their skates will have to abide by some rules. Among the things banned from the ice: food, drinks, hockey sticks, pucks, figure skating, fast skating, and foul language.
Skating is free, but skaters must reserve their spots in advance. Passes are made available 48 hours before the desired skating day.
The freshly flooded rink was packed on Thursday as skaters glided across the new ice. Chris Francis pulled his daughter out of school so she could be among the first to try the rink.
“It’s an experience. Obviously 150 doesn’t come around too often – about every 150 years,” he joked. “So we just thought it would be awesome to get out here,” Francis said.
Tina Dubois brought her young daughter to Parliament for her first time skating. After a few wobbly attempts, the little girl opted to be pushed across in a stroller.
“It’s her first time skating, and so I thought, what a better place to do it than right on Parliament Hill?” Dubois said.
Many skaters agreed that, despite the price tag, the rink should be an annual staple.
“They should do it every year,” one woman told CTV Ottawa.
Another skater who was enjoying the ice on her lunch break said the rink “really is awesome.”
“You just look up and see Parliament Hill and you think, okay, this is Canada. This is it,” she said.
With files from CTV Ottawa