Skating in the Square
Skating is free at Springer Market Square. Public restrooms, a warming/change area and lockers are available in the Market Wing (lower level) of City Hall.
Accessible public washrooms, a change/warming area and small lockers for personal items and shoes (bring your own lock) are available in the lower Market Wing of City Hall via the North and South courtyards. An accessibility ramp to the lower level Wing is available at the North entrance off Brock Street.
Bringing a group to skate?
Notify us if your group plans to skate at Springer Market Square: Although we do not accept private bookings for schools or corporations for the Springer Market Square rink, groups are more than welcome to skate anytime during the posted hours.
Teachers and group leaders: Call the Facility Booking Office at 613-546-4291 ext. 1800 to let us know when you plan to come, so that we can make you aware if other large groups are already expected. This helps ensure your group gets the maximum enjoyment from their outing.
Skate rentals & rates
The rental office is located in the basement of the Market Wing of City Hall beside the rink. Lockers and washrooms are also available. The City operates a skate rental service at Springer Market Square, open on select dates and times around the holidays and special events each winter.
Frequently asked questions
When will the ice be ready?
Late November/early December.
Why can't you give us an exact date?
It's weather dependent. Precipitation, sun and warm temperatures work against us. Ideally, we would have five dry days of grey skies at around -4 C, but we rarely get that. So we offer a date range based on historic temperature trends.
Why can they play a NHL game in Dodgers Stadium, when it was 28 C outside and we have to wait until December to skate behind City Hall?
The NHL game at Dodger Stadium used the largest mobile refrigeration plant in the world and two engineering teams (roughly 18 people) to make a pad of ice for that one game. It took them three weeks to make it, working only at night and covering it with a thermal shield during the day. Making and sustaining an ice pad over several months is decidedly a different task.
The Square does have a refrigeration plant, however if our ice gets too thin it might crack. If it cracks we could be down for a few days while we repair.
How do you make ice in the Square?
The first thing we do is lay down roughly 60 peripheral boards to define the rink's edges. Each board is numbered and needs to go in a certain spot so that it can be correctly anchored in place. Then we need to bring the surface temperature down to about -5 C. At that point we can start to make ice. We need a good 1.5 inches of ice before anyone can skate on the rink and, ideally, we have somewhere between 2.5 and 3 inches of ice.
Why do you have to shut the rink down sometimes after it's open?
Certain conditions can cause us to start losing the thickness of the ice (sun, warm temperatures and precipitation) – and if it gets too thin it risks cracking. Our arena operators monitor the situation and drill to confirm the ice's depth and hardness. If it makes sense to close the rink down for four hours, they will do that rather than risk having to close it for three days.
Do you have to close it often?
Not really. It's based on the weather. In 2015, for example, we were open for 110 skating days out of a possible 113. We are blessed with some great ice-making professionals and that really helps. The rest is up to Mother Nature.
Why does the Springer Market Square rink close at 10 p.m.?
The City's outdoor rink policy states that all City-operated outdoor rinks are to close at 9 p.m. The exception is Springer Market Square, which closes at 10 p.m. (before the Noise Bylaw comes into effect at 11 p.m.) This allows staff to complete the work necessary to get the rink ready for skating the next day, such as Zamboni work or other ice maintenance as required.
How do you close the rink for the season?
When the ice becomes difficult to maintain due to warm daytime temperatures and melting, the City will decide to close it for the season.
We turn off the refrigeration plant, so the pad returns to its ambient temperature. The ice will melt (depending on weather conditions). We then use the ice resurfacer to start shaving down the thickness of the ice. We can only do this to a certain depth, as we don't want to risk the blade damaging the pavers underneath (or the ice resurfacer itself). We locate the drains and unplug them (we plug them to keep the water in to flood at the start of the ice season), this allows the melted water to drain out which speeds things up. The time it takes to close the rink depends on the weather.