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Edmonton 'Freezeway' Would Be Skating Lane For Commuters


It feels like winter in the Northeast has dragged on for too long. But imagine living in a place where it's below freezing for almost half the year. It sounds arctic, but for the people of Edmonton, it's reality. Edmonton is one of Canada's coldest cities. Today's temperature is five degrees.


VANILLA ICE: (Singing) Ice ice baby.


City officials know they have a problem, and they want Edmontonians to have warmer feelings for winter.


MATT GIBBS: (Laughter) We get such a bad rap for being this cold place.

SIEGEL: That's Edmonton native Matt Gibbs. He's proposing a novel way to make winter more fun - a freezeway - as in a special path for ice skaters around the city.

GIBBS: I looked at this 11 kilometer bike lane in the city that in the winter, it could be frozen over and created into a skating lane.

MCEVERS: He thinks it would be good to get people outside for some fresh air and exercise, maybe even some fun.

GIBBS: I would go skate an 11 kilometer skating loop that was all lit up with lights and displays with places to skate up and grab a hot beverage or perhaps an alcoholic beverage.

SIEGEL: Gibbs also says the skating line could serve a practical purpose - commuting. This is Canada after all, where ice hockey reigns supreme.


FOREIGNER: (Singing) Cold as ice, you know that you are.

MCEVERS: So far, reaction to the freezeway proposal has been mixed. Sue Holdsworth works for the city of Edmonton - she's all for it. Some of her peers - not so much.

SUE HOLDSWORTH: One of the counselors was quoted saying it's the stupidest idea he's ever heard (laughter).

SIEGEL: Still, Edmonton wouldn't be the first to welcome Jack Frost this way. Folks in Ottawa and Winnipeg convert their cities' canals and rivers into de facto ice paths every year.


ELTON JOHN: (Singing) Ice skating on the river.

MCEVERS: Matt Gibbs hopes his freezeway could turn Edmonton into a hot destination, inspiring warm-blooded tourists to lace up their skates and enjoy the scenery.

SIEGEL: Hope they'll have fast and slow lanes for the less sure-footed among us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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