Anchors Aweigh!

Canal Paddlers Have Easy Access

By John Dance

OECA president Phyllis Odenbach Sutton joined MP Catherine McKenna’s flotilla celebrating the new paddling access points on the Rideau Canal. Photo by John Dance

OECA president Phyllis Odenbach Sutton joined MP Catherine McKenna’s flotilla celebrating the new paddling access points on the Rideau Canal. Photo by John Dance

The day has arrived when a federal minister can paddle to a cabinet meeting.

Federal Environment and Climate Change minister Catherine McKenna tweeted this message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a recent May morning when she helped launch the first canoes from new easy-access points on the Rideau Canal and then led several dozen paddlers to the National Arts Centre.

On May 10, amid a flurry of media attention, McKenna portaged a canoe from her home in the Glebe and made the inaugural launch at the new Patterson Creek facilities.

It was an event that came about through the persistence of two community groups.

The Glebe and Old Ottawa East community associations recently wrote to federal ministers responsible for the National Capital Commission and Parks Canada asking them to provide paddlers with better access to the central Ottawa portion of the Rideau Canal.

Just three weeks after OECA president Phyllis Odenbach Sutton and GCA president Christine McAllister made the case, Parks Canada installed a dock with easy access at Patterson Creek. A second dock was to go in at the western end of Clegg Street.

“It’s a glorious way to experience the heart of the capital,” Odenbach Sutton said. “The new docks and access points will make it easy for residents and visitors to actually get on the canal and enjoy the beauty in the midst of the city’s hubbub.”

Residents will now be able to more readily explore the Rideau Canal system and take trips to Hartwell locks, Hog’s Back, Black Rapids and perhaps even to Kingston.

Until now, a metre-high guardrail along both sides of the canal from Wellington Street to Dow’s Lake has made it difficult to launch and board canoes and kayaks. Four years ago, the OECA asked that several skateway gates be opened during the boating season so that paddlers could readily launch their craft. The National Capital Commission responded however, that study was required to ensure safety and facilities were properly designed for various types of users.

The new access points and docks are a pilot project. McKenna cautioned that their continuation depends on actual use. If they prove successful there is the possibility of additional points in the central Ottawa portion of the canal. The improvements are a part of a $57 million federal investment in the Rideau Canal.

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Filed in: Environment, Front Page

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