Skating rink to open on Parliament Hill in December

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The NHL’s bid to play hockey on Parliament Hill may have failed, but come December, you could be performing a triple lutz on the icy lawn of Canada’s seat of government.

Canadian Heritage is partnering with the Ottawa Senators and the Bell Capital Cup to build the first ever skating rink on the Hill as part of the closing events for Canada’s 150 celebrations. All events will be free of charge, although tickets may be issued to manage crowds.

The rink is expected to be open from Dec. 7 to 31, although one of the key events will be Canada 150 Skating Day on Dec. 10, a sesquicentennial celebration that “will also include events in 200 community arenas from coast to coast to coast,” according to a new release from the heritage department.

More than public skating

Details on exactly what activities will be offered on the Hill in December are expected to become available over the next few weeks, but the annual Christmas Lights Across Canada — complete with a multimedia show, music and fireworks — ceremony is already scheduled for Dec. 7, the day the rink is to open.

According to Canadian Heritage, there will also be “a variety of winter, cultural and sports activities” on the Hill, but it’s unclear what those might entail.

But in a statement, the honorary chair of the Bell Capital Cup suggests that there could be hockey games played on the Hill.

“The opportunity to play outdoors on Parliament Hill as part of Canada 150 will provide a pure and unique Canadian family hockey experience for the participating children and teams.”

And the department plans to close out Canada 150 with a fireworks display on Parliament Hill on New Year’s Eve.

NHL outdoor game moved to Lansdowne

Until late last year, the NHL was lobbying to host an outdoor game between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens on the Hill, but the logistics — and the protocols that govern the events that can happen there — proved impossible to surmount.

Mounting an NHL game on the Hill would have required at least four months to construct a temporary arena for 30,000 spectators, and there were concerns that the work would impede parliamentary business, public access and security.

In addition, an NHL game would have broken a long list of rules around what can take place on the Hill. Organized sporting events, charging admission, commercial advertising, and selling food and alcohol on the Hill are all prohibited.

Instead, the two teams will face off on Dec. 16 at Lansdowne’s TD Place Stadium for Ottawa’s first outdoor NHL game.