OTTAWA — Mother Nature drowned out Canada Day on Parliament Hill and now has frozen out part of the plan for New Year's Eve.
Organizers were checking the forecast every hour Friday hoping to see some improvement but the polar vortex that has turned Ottawa into a living icicle shows no sign of lifting until at least January 2.
So they've cancelled plans for musical entertainment and DJs for the Canada 150 closing events, but will go ahead with fireworks and a laser show scheduled for midnight.
Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said while Canadians were able to manage all the snow that fell around last New Year's Eve to ring in Canada 150, this year the cold was proving to be too much.
"Of course it's a bit of a disappointment with this extreme cold weather but we have to deal with it and making sure that Canadians are safe and everything is well taken care of in terms of public health we decided to modify the celebrations," Joly said in an interview.
In a statement Friday, her department asked people to "consider the extreme weather conditions and prepare accordingly to prevent frostbite and other injuries."
Earlier Friday, plans for the bash were in doubt altogether as the department's website briefly listed everything as being cancelled, but a final decision wasn't made until mid-morning.
Andrew Campbell, the senior executive director in charge of the Canada 150 secretariat, had said earlier Friday with the current forecast offering up temperatures close to -28 Celsius with 15 km/hour winds, there had been concern that the equipment needed for the fireworks and multimedia light show might not work.
Hip hop artist Kardinal Offishall was among the artists scheduled to perform on Parliament Hill Sunday night. News of the party's cancellation prompted him to post his displeasure.
"Noooooooooo!!!," read a message on his official Twitter account.
"Damn you frigid temperatures!!!!"
The weather has already forced the cancellation of youth hockey games on the Parliament Hill Canada 150 skating rink but Campbell said public skating continues.
Members of the public will be able to skate on the rink right up until midnight on New Year's Eve.
In Calgary, where temperatures are also expected to hover at the -30 Celsius mark on Sunday, celebrations will once again be held in and around the downtown Olympic Plaza.
A number of bands are scheduled to play outdoors prior to the midnight fireworks.
The cold in Ottawa versus the cold in Alberta is different, said Teresa Byrne, arts and culture superintendent of festivals and events for the City of Calgary.
"We say 'it's a dry cold' That's the thing with Ottawa. It's a wet cold," she said.
"...So it's harder to compare when Ottawa might pull the plug versus when Calgary or Edmonton would pull the plug."
Since the temperature tends to drop as the night wears on, Edmonton scheduled fireworks there early — for 9 p.m.
Officials are prepared to modify schedule for outdoor events, should the temperature become too extreme. Fireworks would only be scrubbed if the wind speed reached 40 km/hour which, for safety reasons, makes them unsafe to set off.
"We're a hardy bunch, that's for sure," said Tannia Franke, civic precinct supervisor with civic events and festivals, City of Edmonton.
"We've had cold temperatures on New Year's Eve before and we've still had large crowds come out, so we're expecting something similar this year."
— with files from Ken Trimble in Edmonton