As boaters get back in the water, here’s an update on proposed changes for the use of historic canal systems in Ontario, including the regionally-significant Rideau Canal.
According to statements from Environment Minister Peter Kent and this Parks Canada press release, there will be no fee hikes for at least three years, but lock services will be reduced.
Here’s more from a Canadian Press report, carried by the CBC.
“In order to support the government in its deficit reducing efforts, the hours of operation throughout the navigation season will be reduced, offering between seven and nine hours of service per day, aligned with demand,” Parks Canada said in response to a media inquiry Tuesday.
The government will now provide “upon arrival services” at locks, meaning a reduced canal staff will drive from lock to lock in an effort to keep up with boating traffic moving through the system.
Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown was one of the area politicians who worked to avert fee hikes. According to the Eastern Ontario Network, Brown had this to say in a press release dated 5/15:
“I and my colleagues have been working long and hard on this issue and I am happy to announce that our request for consultation on the future of the canal has been answered,” he says.
“This will give us all time to take a long look at what we can do to improve the canal.”
The problem, as usual, is money.
Parks Canada is charged with operating the historic canal systems, but that agency says they only recovers about 10% of actual costs from user fees.
One parliamentary proposal reportedly under consideration is to removed canal operation from Parks Canada into some new, independent agency.