Zone concerns and Police on the Rideau River between Blacks Rapids and Long Island Locks


August 6, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Community Events,Concerns,Newsletter


 

4 August 2020

Parks Canada
34 Beckwith Street South
Smiths Falls, ON K7A 2A8

Attn: Mr. Scott Tweedie – Operations Manager, Ontario Waterways

RE: “Watch Your Wake” Zone concerns and Police on the Rideau River between Blacks Rapids and Long Island Locks

Dear Mr. Tweedie,

We are reaching out to you as members of our small community association – Honey Gables, a little community nestled along the Rideau across from Barrhaven. Many of our residents are either on the waterfront or use the water regularly as boaters, paddlers and swimmers. This year with COVID, we’ve seen an amazing increase in the use of this stretch of water, from swimmers, kayakers, and many SUP paddlers which is great to see. Included are avid/veteran paddlers who normally would access other regional paddling facilities but with increased safety and access measures at these facilities, combined with construction of the Hogs Back Bridge, there is even more activity on our stretch of the river (Black’s Reach). To further exasperate the situation, the Gloucester Eccolands Park is the only open, public launch available to anyone in the City (http://www.rideau-info.com/canal/boat-launch.html):

Parks Canada boat launch

We exchanged emails in August 2019, including an email from you stating:

“A large portion of shoreline residents and canal users own motorboats and use the canal for pleasure boating and towing activities, including wakeboarding/surfing, tubing, and water skiing.

Many other residents and canal users are concerned about the safety and environmental risks associated with boating, speeding, and boat wakes, such as shoreline erosion/property damage, congestion and collision, and noise levels (including loud exhaust, noise, music and PA systems). Parks Canada has also received complaints from paddlers regarding boat wakes.

In an effort to regulate these competing interests Parks Canada has adopted a two pronged approach involving increasing enforcement efforts involving the Parks Canada warden service and our partner agencies like the Ottawa Police Service and updating our signs/ public awareness program.

As part of this effort Parks Canada recently replaced many of the faded ‘No Wake’ signs along this portion of the Rideau Canal.”

Based on last year’s action when two (2) more watch-your-wake (WWW) buoys to the Black’s Reach, we interpreted/understood the four (4) WWW buoys created two separate WWW zones. Until mid-July this year, there has been minimal to no presence nor enforcement on the Black’s Stretch – in most cases, it has been the Ottawa Fire Service boat patrolling the river. Hence, we continued our river activities as we had over the past decades.

This year “START-FINISH” stickers were added to the furthermost WWW buoys (south of the Vimy Bridge and north extent near Eccolands). As noted in your email, we were expecting some communication to inform the public, especially the river residents, and signage for the public regarding the changes. Although this change was subtle, we continued our boating activities as we always have – two WWW zones. Over the past two to three weeks there has been a heavy Ottawa Police Marine Unit presence, essentially every 2nd to 3rd day, enforcing a “no wake” zone for the entire Black’s Reach. They are also enforcing safety requirements for the paddlers, which is good and all part of continuous education. However, the Marine Unit message has varied for the boaters, but generally has been enforcing increased speed with a larger wake. As noted in your email, education of those enforcing is necessary, as you stated:

“Absolute speed is not always the main reason for a vessel’s wake.

A wake pattern left by a vessel will depend on its speed, boat type, and water and weather conditions.”

As river residents, many with young children, we find this intimidating as there has been no formal signage or communication notifying river users of the “rules” and enforcement. As you can imagine oversight of the Rideau River is confusing as its governed by Transport Canada, Parks Canada, Rideau Valley Conservation and the City of Ottawa. This has brought on a complex web for our community to get answers on the policies related to the size of wake permitted, speed, etc. This information is vitally important to the residents who regularly waterski, wakeboard, tube and paddle (canoe, kayak, SUP) – all great fun activities for the families and public along this section between the Blacks Rapids and Long Island locks.

We appreciate there is an increased public presence on the Black’s Reach with easy access from the Chapman Mills Conservation Area (at the main dock and under the Vimy Bridge), at the Jock River Landing and the Landing Dock (across from the Chapman Mills Conservation Area). This season, many accessing the river from these locations are first-time or novice paddlers, and even swimmers who do not appreciate that the river is a navigation channel. The river residents have always, and we continue to, respect those who are paddling as many of us are avid paddlers. We all believe that both activities (power boating and paddling) can be done in harmony.

We understand that there have been increasing complaints by a few vocal river residents who want to control the federal waterway and by a few paddlers who refuse to paddle on the sides of the river despite the presence of small watercraft and large cruiser style boats traveling from lock to lock.

As a result, we understand that the Ottawa Marine Unit and Parks Canada recently met to discuss the concerns and the conclusions were:

  • remove the WWW buoys this year and not reinstate them for the 2021 boating season; and, more concerning,
  • the Black’s Reach (Black Rapids Locks to Long Island Locks) will become a “No Speed” zone.

Based on the above and considering that this is an abnormal year with increased river use by the public, we feel this would be a knee-jerk reaction to cull the complaints without regard to the river residents who have boating for on the Black’s Reach for decades.

We are reaching out to you to ensure the water activities are not curtailed and that we can reach an agreement on the way forward. The news has traveled quickly to other river residents in this Reach. There is mounting support from all river residents contacted living on Nichols Island, Winding Way, Gloucester Glen, Holborn Avenue, and near Eccolands who all want their voices heard (View the PDF map with support to-date). There is a specific concern to the negative impact to property values.

 

Our community would be pleased to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss solutions to this situation.

Warm regards,

Mike Reid
President, Honey Gables Community Association

Cc: Ms. Goldie Gharmari, MPP Carleton
6179 Perth St Unit 30, Richmond, ON K0A 2Z0
Email: goldie.ghamari@pc.ola.org

Mr. Pierre Poilievre, MP
1139 Mill St, Manotick, ON K4M 1A5
Email: pierre.poilievre@parl.gc.ca

Ms. Carol Anne Meehan, Councillor – Ward 22
110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, ON, K1P 1J1
Email: Carolanne.Meehan@ottawa.ca

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