Skate the Lake — the outdoor skating path that was such a hit last winter on the frozen surface of Lac La Biche lake, is almost ready.
Going into the weekend, Lac La Biche County officials say their equipment was ready to work on the kilometre-long skating path, parking areas and skating rinks ... they just need Mother Nature to slide some decent skating weather their way.
A deep-freeze over the Christmas holidays, combined with heavy snowfalls made it difficult to get machinery onto the ice. Although crews have been able to get onto the lake's frozen surface as temperatures have increased in recent days, the warmer weather has made it tough to get smooth ice.
"The larger rink areas have been flooded, but because of the high temperatures, they’re freezing more slowly than the expected," said Lac La Biche County communications manager Jihad Moghrabi.
The flooding of the ice surface is needed because the extreme cold weather in December made the ice quite rough.
With cooler temperatures expected in the new week, Moghrabi expects that crews will be able to drive a Zamboni onto the ice to smooth all areas.
"Weather-permitting, Skate the Lake should be open by the middle of next week," he said.
The on-ice path-that stretches from the boat launch by the David Thompson statue to McArthur Place isn't the only outdoor skating area being brushed off this week.
Keeping with the municipality's slogan of "Welcoming By Nature", the Alexander Hamilton Park's trout pond has also been cleared to give skaters a circuit to enjoy. Moghrabi said municipal crews cleared and flooded the pond leading up to the weekend. In past years, an ice-fishing area was also cordoned off so families could skate and fish at the same location. Municipal crews have also stacked firewood at the Alexander Hamilton Park's main gathering area. The park is also a winter destination for tobogganing.
Other outdoor skating opportunities can be found at outdoor community rinks across the municipality.
The weather forecast for the next week will see temperatures cooling off significantly by the overnight on Tuesday and staying chilly through the next weekend.