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Canada’s famous Rideau Canal Skateway, the largest natural ice rink in the world, will not open this season for the first time due to a lack of ice, as the company that manages it announced yesterday, attributing this development to climate change.

The 7.8 kilometer Rideau Canal Skateway first opened over 50 years ago and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada’s capital, Ottawa.

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It attracts skaters during Canada’s usually frigid winters.

The National Capital Commission (NCC), which maintains and manages the natural rink, said that while it was assessing and preparing for the effects of climate change, its efforts to open the canal for this season “have come to an end”.

“This year has taught us a lot about the effects of milder winters on the Skateway,” the committee said in a statement yesterday.

The NCC had previously announced that it would only open the rink if the ice thickness was at least 30cm, which means there must be 10-14 consecutive days with temperatures between minus 20 and minus 10 degrees Celsius.

In Ottawa, the average temperature in January was -5.9 degrees Celsius, according to the Weather Network. Temperatures this year are being affected by La Niña, and climate change is likely to make winters milder than a few decades ago, said Doug Gillam, director of the Weather Network’s forecast center.