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Transforming winter's ice rink into water-filled canals

Brian Meyer/WBFO News

If you think filling a swimming pool is a big task, trying filling the canals at Canalside. A two-day mission is under way that's pumping nearly a half-million gallons of water into canals that in a more frigid season attracted more than 60,000 ice skaters.

The attraction is located on a site that was once the western terminus of the Erie Canal. Planners are convinced the historic tie-in will attract many visitors.

"The fact that these canals are historically aligned is an activity in itself," said Tom Dee, president of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. "You come down here with your family and your friends, and we’ll have people telling the story. The story of Buffalo, and the story of the digging of the Erie Canal.”

Beyond the historical lure, the canals will host motorized sailboats, water bikes, food vendors and a host of special events. When the canals are filled, the water will be about 18 inches deep. Dee said a private company will maintain the canals to ensure there is no algae buildup or odors.

Downtown resident Rob Jendrysek was watching with some friends as hoses filled the canals with water. He said he is impressed with the transformation that has occurred.

"When we first moved in here five or six years ago, it was pretty much just a desolate area," he told WBFO. "It's really good to see how far it's come in the last couple of years."

Jendrysek said with other planned development at Canalside, including the Explore & More Children's Museum, he believes the future is bright for downtown's waterfront.

"I think it will be a very vibrant area for years to come," he said.

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