Boaters and communities that benefit from Ontario’s Rideau Canal were alarmed earlier this year when cuts to the operational season came up for discussion.
According to media reports, Environment Minister Peter Kent announced on Thursday the length of the 2013 boating season for the Rideau Canal (and Parks Canada’s other historic canals) will remain unchanged.
Locks will operate from Victoria Day Weekend (the Monday before May 25) until Canadian Thanksgiving (2nd Monday in October). According to the Ottawa Citizen daily hours of operation are set to decrease (1 hour reduction in Spring and Fall; 2 hour reduction during summer) and fees may rise.
As reported by the Citizen, the news came as a huge relief to marina owner Peter Hurst:
Hurst wasn’t worried about the plan to shorten hours. “People can live with the shorter hours,” he said. “They just can’t live with them not being able to reopen at all.”
Nor was he concerned about higher lockage and dockage fees. “If you can afford a boat, you can afford a lock fee.”
Businesses and communities along the historic recreational corridor had protested possible reductions to the season. Minister Kent recognized those voices in his press release comments in the official press release of Oct 18.
“With this decision, the canals and the surrounding communities will continue flourishing as a vibrant centre of our regions,” added Minister Kent. “The government appreciated the constructive feedback we received from the public, and was pleased to work with the local Members of Parliament, Mayors, business leaders, and stakeholders, to determine a workable schedule going forward that is affordable while minimizing the impact on the local economies and visitors.”
Coming in mid-October when most boaters are packing things up for winter, this announcement may seem off-topic. But it’s important news for those involved in regional tourism and economic development. And, by next Spring, it’ll matter to boaters again too!