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Edmonton considering 'freezeway' to embrace winter

If the new Edmonton Freezeway is constructed, residents will have an 11-km course that winds through the city and allows them to skate to work, school, and other city activities.

February 25, 2015 |
Edmonton considering 'freezeway' to embrace winter

Design plans for the Freezeway include setting up skate rentals in nearby metro stops and using buildings as windbreaks. Renderings courtesy Matthew Gibbs

When cities such as Edmonton, Canada, are below freezing for the majority of the year, it's hard to want to embrace the cold and snow. However, landscape architecture student Matthew Gibbs and city council members are considering a way to encourage residents to enjoy the cold rather than try to hide from it. According to BBC, the city is pondering the idea of a "Freezeway" and may launch a pilot project as early as next winter.

The idea was first brought up during a city council meeting during the 1990s, when a council member made an off-hand comment that suggested opening the fire hydrants and letting the streets flood and freeeze over. The comment inspired Gibbs to design the Freezeway, which won first place at the 2013 COLDSCAPES international design competition.

Gibbs said that if two existing rail corridors were connected, then an 11-km route could be established to allow people to skate to work, school, or events in the city. The Freezeway would also encourage more active lifestyles during the winter months, said Gibbs.

Design plans for the Freezeway include:

  • Setting up skate rentals in nearby metro stops
  • Using buildings as windbreaks
  • Using "curbside skating lanes" that could be rolled up in the spring
  • Providing built-in snow storage to serve as traffic dividers and contain the ice
  • Building developments and plazas in sunny areas

Many council members have said the Freezeway is a good idea, and could be financed with corporate sponsorship or crowdsourcing. The price tag would be hefty, however, at as much as $400 per meter.


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