Senator stands up for Rideau Canal

For Immediate Release
January 15, 2013

Senator stands up for Rideau Canal

OTTAWA – Today, the Honourable Jim Munson, Senator for Ottawa / Rideau Canal, rejected the Conservative government’s plan to impose higher fees for boaters on the Rideau Canal. The proposal would dramatically increase the cost for anyone accessing the waterway, if implemented. “It’s absurd,” said Senator Munson. “The increased fees are more likely to kill the canal than ensure its long-term sustainability, as the government suggests.”

Late Friday, Parks Canada posted the proposal for new lockage fees on the department’s website. The current structure allows boaters to access the Rideau Canal and use its locks for a specific period of time. Passes vary in length from a single day to the entire season. The proposal calls for a shift to a system requiring two to four ‘tickets’ for a boat to pass through a lock station. The cost per ticket depends on the size and type of a vessel. The new fee structure is expected to at least triple the cost for many powerboat owners and more than double the cost for someone wishing to paddle the length of the canal in a canoe or kayak.

“There is a cost to everything but this is outrageous,” said Senator Munson. “The economic fallout for the region will be disastrous.” Business owners from Kingston to Ottawa have flatly condemned the proposal. Several have predicted dramatic declines in canal traffic, with some suggesting that lockage use could fall by as much as 75 per cent. If such estimates are correct, the livelihood of thousands who rely on businesses along the canal could be in jeopardy.

The construction of the Rideau Canal was a direct result of the War of 1812, whose bicentennial last year was honoured by the Conservative government with an expensive advertising campaign.

“If there is concern about the Rideau Canal’s sustainability,” Senator Munson added, “perhaps, instead of spending millions on television commercials about the War of 1812, the Conservative government should have invested in the waterway and demonstrated their commitment to preserving a UNESCO World Heritage Site that still operates today as it has for almost two centuries.”

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Contact:

The Honourable Jim Munson, Senator
munsoj@sen.parl.gc.ca
613-995-1870