Community Associations Propose Downtown Canal Access For Kayaks and Canoes

By Haley Ritchie Metroland Media, April 20th 2016

Drummond Street residents Fred Simpson and Rowan Aird manage to launch a canoe into the canal over the locked skateway gate.   Photo By John Dance

Drummond Street residents Fred Simpson and Rowan Aird manage to launch a canoe into the canal over the locked skateway gate. Photo By John Dance

Downtown residents are asking MPs to put accessible docks along the canal near the Glebe and Ottawa East to allow better recreational access.

A new proposal by two downtown community groups could see the Rideau Canal become a little more animated in the summer by providing more public access to canoes and kayaks

On Wednesday, the Glebe Community Association, and Ottawa East Community Association penned an open letter detailing the request to MPs Mélanie Joly and Catherine McKenna.

The letter is asking for a pilot project that would add two temporary floating docks and accessible gates along the canal this summer to increase access.

“The reality is people already try and use it for canoeing and kayaking but right now it’s not safe or easy to access,” said Glebe association president Christine McAllister.

The suggested locations for the docks were carefully chosen keeping in mind the pathways, safety, and existing boat traffic, according to McAllister.

The canal currently offers two points of entry at the north and south end of the downtown – one set of docks just behind the National Arts Centre and another at Dow’s Lake.

The only problem for residents in the core is that everything between is blocked off by guardrails – meaning the only way to access the canal is to use a car.

“I am an avid canoeist myself, and I would be keen to see increased access to the Rideau Canal for canoers and kayakers in central Ottawa,” said McKenna in an emailed response. “Parks Canada will announce plans for the 2016 season shortly.”

The concept is not new. In 1902, the original Rideau Canoe Club was located in the Glebe at the canal and Fifth Avenue. The club moved south to Mooney’s Bay in 1946.

Former Old Ottawa East Association president John Dance has been working on the idea for over four years. He said the association recently pitched the project to the National Capital Commission for their 50-year plan.

“It’s a little idea with big impact,” said Dance.

“We’ve so lucky that Ottawa is a very recreational city,” said McAllister. “It’s a beautiful facility in our neighbourhood and this would be a great way to encourage people to use it.

NCC spokesperson Cédric Pelletier said Parks Canada would be the lead to implement the project, but said both organizations “are aware of the strong community interest.”

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Filed in: Community Groups, Environment, FP, Front Page

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