Response from Scott Tweedie : Wake Zones and enforcement on the Black Rapids

August 19, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Concerns

Response from Scott Tweedie

Thank you for your most recent letter concerning Wake Zones and enforcement on the Black Rapids reach of the Rideau Canal. I would be pleased to meet with you or members of your association to discuss your concerns. As I have communicated to you in the past, Parks Canada is aware of the conflicts between various homeowners and user groups on this section of the waterway.

I can share with you that these concerns are not confined to the Black Rapids area and that 2020 has generated more complaints associated with on-water activity than in previous Rideau Canal navigation seasons.

In order to address your specific concerns, I have spoken to the Aids to Navigation Foreman who maintains the channel markers in the Ottawa to Smiths Falls section. He informs me that his crew has performed maintenance to “No Wake “ signs vandalized in the area this season, but has not changed the locations of the markers from last season.

I will visit the area with the crew in the next month in order to verify that the control measures are correctly located and are having the desired effect on users in this area.

Just for clarity, I would remind you that unlike the Transport Canada 10km Speed Zones present in other locations along the Rideau, “No Wake” signs are simply one of the administrative tools Parks Canada uses to draw boater attention to areas where wave dissipation may be a problem (erosion, danger to other vessels, public safety) and to serve as a reminder that under Section 30 of the Historic Canal Regulations:
Every person in charge of a vessel that is in a historic canal shall operate the vessel in a manner that ensures that its wake is minimized and that the vessel and its wake do not compromise the safety of persons or vessels or cause damage to the shoreline or to any vessel, works, equipment or object.

Enforcing restrictions on excessive wake presents a particular challenge in narrow reaches like Black Rapids for Law Enforcement officials. The principle intent of this ongoing enforcement is in line with one of Parks Canada’s priorities: to protect the natural and cultural heritage of our special places and ensure that they remain healthy and whole.
The legal basis that underpins this principle can be found in section 8 of the Historic Canal Regulations “Every person shall comply with any sign posted or traffic control device placed in a historic canal pursuant to subsection 4(2).” Where subsection 4(2) is “the superintendent may post, in a historic canal, signs that are necessary to (i) protect cultural resources, natural resources, structures, equipment and objects, (or) (iii) ensure the safety of persons”. In short, we use signs/markers coupled with enforcement to gain compliance from boaters.

Parks Canada Law Enforcement did meet with members of the Ottawa Police Marine and Trail Unit earlier this season. These meetings occur on a regular basis and allow Park Wardens and the Ottawa Marine unit to compare notes on the enforcement of no wake zones, areas of highest complaint, restrictions on towables in the navigation channel (Section 10 HCR) and other enforcement topics.

I can confirm that there is no current plan to remove the No Wake Zone markers and replace them with a Transport Canada continuous speed zone for this reach. A decision for this type of change would only come from the Director of Ontario Waterways and would be subject to public consultation as per the Transport Canada regulations.

As you may be aware the Rideau Canal Management Plan is currently under review and will be subject to public consultation as well. If you have suggestions pertaining to the management of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site, I encourage you to avail yourself of this opportunity. These consultations have been postponed due to COVID 19, but should resume shortly, details will be available on the Parks Canada

As your letter notes, the Eccolands Park boat launch is a City of Ottawa owned and operated facility. The popularity of this access point has no doubt contributed to the congestion on this portion of the canal this season. Parks Canada does have a sign at this location and day users are subject to the same controls and enforcement mechanisms as residents.

My understanding that the Ottawa Police unit have been out on the water primarily educating people on wake effects and the dangers associated with the reckless operation of vessels and personal watercraft manoeuvring in congested channels. While educating they are of course enforcing safe boating rules such as having appropriate equipment. In the interest of public safety Parks Canada supports these efforts.

Scott Tweedie

A/ Operations Manager

Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Ontario Waterways Unit

Parks Canada, Government of Canada

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