OTTAWA — Heritage Minister Melanie Joly confirmed Thursday that Parliament Hill's $5.6-million ice rink, originally slated for a three-week run, will now be open to the public until the end of February.
But it's unclear how much the two-month extension will cost taxpayers.
"We have been working with the Speakers of the House and Senate, and we are happy to announce that the Canada 150 Rink on the Hill will remain open through the 40th edition of Winterlude and to the end of February," Joly's press secretary Simon Ross told HuffPost Canada.
"This will allow even more families to lace up their skates. More information will be available in due course."
The comment is nearly identical to a tweet published on the minister's Twitter account hours earlier.
We've been working with the Speakers of the House & Senate. We're happy to announce that #Canada150 Rink on the Hill will remain open through #Winterlude & to the end of February. This will allow even more families to lace up their skates for this once in a lifetime opportunity. pic.twitter.com/iuogQ10phS— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) November 23, 2017
The decision comes one day after reporters were told the project's $5.6-million price is inclusive of construction and programming costs.
Seventy per cent of rink time has been allocated for public skating, according to officials. Tickets will need to be reserved 48 hours in advance, and no hockey, figure skating, or racing is allowed.
The remaining 30 per cent is for special programs, including a peewee hockey tournament that will bring 32 teams from across the country to the capital.
The original plan was to close the rink on Jan. 1 so it could be dismantled and donated to a community. As of Wednesday, it hadn't been decided which community will receive the rink.
A timeline for the rink donation decision has not been made public by Heritage Canada or its partners, the Ottawa Senators and Ottawa International Hockey Festival.
The minister repeatedly ducked questions about how much extra money the extension will tack onto the project cost.
Despite her department approving the budget to extend the rink, Joly told reporters in the House of Commons, "I'll have the chance to give more details about that later on."
Ottawa's Winterlude festival, which centres on the nearby Rideau Canal Skateway (a.k.a. The "world's largest naturally frozen ice skating rink"), will run Feb. 2 to 19.
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