Edmonton Mulls Ice Skate Commuter Track

Testing planned as soon as next winter

Feb 25, 2015
Outside Magazine
edmonton freezeway ice skating

The Edmonton Freezeway would function as a bike path in the summer and transform into a 7-mile ice path in the winter.    Paul van Eijden/Flickr

The Canadian city of Edmonton is considering installing a nearly seven-mile public ice path for commuters, according to the BBC.

Called the Freezeway, the path would allow ice-skating in winter months and would be converted to a mixed-use trail in summer.

Skating on frozen canals and rivers in the winter is popular in Canadian cities like Ottawa and Winnipeg. But the Freezeway would be a purpose-built skating track. It’s still an untested concept, and it’s unclear whether it would be a maintained and refrigerated surface or simply a strip of water allowed to freeze naturally.

A landscape architecture student first devised the concept in 2013. The idea was presented this year at Edmonton’s Winter Cities Conference, an event that focuses on how northern cities can use their harsh winters to their advantage. Edmonton is the most northerly North American city with a population of more than one million. Its average January high temperature is just 21 degrees.

Not everyone loves the idea. Edmonton council member Mike Nickel called the Freezeway “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” Other council members were more optimistic. Council member Scott McKeen said that while Edmonton planners have tried to “engineer their way out of winter,” this could be a way for the city to embrace its frigid climate. Boosters have called for testing as early as next winter.

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