Bentway skating trail

New skating trail under the Gardiner is having trouble staying open

Toronto's coolest new skating trail – you know, that 220-metre-long figure 8 under the Gardiner Expressway – has been open for just over two weeks now, and people can't seem to get enough of the Bentway.

Of course, Mother Nature gives no ducks about what anybody wants to do outside between October and May.

She just randomly tosses wind and rain and surprise blasts of sunshine while laughing at the misfortunes of humanity, which isn't ideal for anyone – least of all those who are tasked with maintaining an outdoor ice rink.

"We've had two occasions we've had to close the ice," said Sara Peel, The Bentway's director of facilities and operations, by phone. "One was the second weekend, on Friday when it hit 12 degrees."

Despite how brutally cold most of winter has been this year in Toronto, The Bentway Skate Trail was forced to close again this past Saturday.

Warmer than usual temperatures, plus a compressor system computer glitch, meant that operators simply couldn't get the ice hard enough.

It's not that the rink's operators aren't prepared for fluctuating weather – it's just hard to keep ice frozen and safe when temperatures swing around as wildly as they have been over the past month.

"There's a technical threshold of 10 degrees," said Peel when asked how her team decides when to close the rink. "But realistically, as soon as it starts to get above 0 degrees, by any measure, we start looking at the weather very closely."

Peel said that teams can be brought in early to flood the ice on warmer days while it's still morning-cold. They can also stay late for the same purpose.

But, after two or three days of warm, windy weather – say 5 or 6 degrees – the situation "might be a bit more challenging for us to deal with."

One thing that hasn't been able to trample the under-Gardiner fun? Rain.

Even the one corner of trail that isn't covered by the expressway held up just fine, Peel noted, when it was getting straight up pelted with pouring rain.

"Yesterday was was grey and drizzly, but the ice itself was fine," she said. "It was a huge relief."

The Bentway Skating Trail should be up and running just fine this weekend if temperatures materialize as forecasted. If you're not sure, check out the organization's Facebook Page, where they'll always post an update if facilities are closed.

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil


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