Or­ga­niz­ers try to keep their cool as heat wave looms over Win­ter­lude,

NCC moves to keep its Win­ter­lude ice sculp­tures cold

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - ZEV SINGER

On Tues­day, ice carvers cre­ated gi­ant sculp­tures in Con­fed­er­a­tion Park. On Wed­nes­day, Ot­tawa tem­per­a­tures were ex­pected to hit 10 C. For the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Com­mis­sion, the most op­por­tune moment for a mid-win­ter heat wave is not two days be­fore the open­ing of Win­ter­lude. But the NCC has a plan. Those gi­ant sculp­tures, for ex­am­ple — one of a po­lar bear and the other a herd of muskox — have al­ready been wrapped in ther­mal blan­kets to keep them cool, and cov­ered with tar­pau­lins to ward off the ex­pected rain.

The ice blocks that will be used for the in­ter­na­tional ice carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion on Fri­day have been stashed on re­frig­er­ated trucks. The ice slides, for which the NCC made about 30,000 cu­bic me­tres of snow ear­lier this month, have a thick coat­ing of ice al­ready and will be worked on again when tem­per­a­tures fall again on Thurs­day night.

The NCC has been through this type of thaw be­fore.

Denise LeBlanc, an NCC spokesper­son, said Tues­day that much of the work on the site was moved for­ward so that no peo­ple or ve­hi­cles would need to be in the park on Wed­nes­day cre­at­ing tracks that would freeze and rut.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” said LeBlanc, adding that the NCC would make sure that “ev­ery­thing is safe and as pretty as pos­si­ble for vis­i­tors on Fri­day morn­ing.

The story with the canal is less clear. The NCC an­nounced that the skate­way would be closed Tues­day night at 11 p.m. and warned skaters and pedes­tri­ans to stay off the ice, where re­cently fallen snow could ob­scure ice de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.

Jean Wolff, the NCC’s se­nior man­ager of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said a sec­ond rea­son for the clo­sure was to give work crews the best chance to get the canal ready to re­open as quickly as pos­si­ble af­ter the warm-weather blip passes.

As is NCC pol­icy, Wolff wouldn’t haz­ard a guess as to when the skate­way might re­open. “We never spec­u­late or of­fer a hy­poth­e­sis on when the skate­way will re­open. Pub­lic state­ments to that ef­fect will mis­lead, both in pro­duc­ing a mis­taken sense of se­cu­rity and in caus­ing dis­ap­point­ment if peo­ple head to the skate­way and find it closed.”

NCC stan­dards de­mand an ice thick­ness of 30 cen­time­tres. When the canal is open, an av­er­age of 17,000 skaters come daily.

“Which ac­tu­ally means that on week­ends of good weather it is really 40-60,000 or more,” said Wolff. City road crews are also very busy try­ing to keep up with the fluc­tu­at­ing weather.

On Tues­day, salt­ing trucks were on the road by noon in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the freez­ing rain.

On Wed­nes­day, city crews will have to be on their toes be­cause lots of snow com­bined with ris­ing tem­per­a­tures brings a new con­cern: flood­ing.

Kay Kinder, the man­ager of Fran­cis Plumb­ing and Heat­ing, gave th­ese tips to homeowners who want to pre­pare for flood­ing: Clear base­ment floors of any valu­ables and en­sure drains are clear of de­bris. If you have a sump pump, test it to make sure it’s work­ing.

Kinder said homeowners should make sure their gut­ters are clear and their down­spouts are point­ing away from their house’s foun­da­tion.

In case of flood­ing, Kinder said, ev­ery­one should stock up on bot­tles of fresh water, or pots and Ther­moses filled with clean tap water. “Sewer sys­tems can flood, caus­ing con­tam­i­na­tion of fresh­wa­ter sources,” she said.


Alex S. Gi­rard works on a snow sculp­ture of Sa­muel de Cham­plain in Jacques Cartier Park on Tues­day as Win­ter­lude gets set to open on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

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