News / Ottawa

Downtown residents asking Parks Canada to open up canal to paddlers

Olivier Whitehouse said he’s been in contact with Parks Canada for a year asking the department to open up canal access near Waverley Street.

Residents of Sandy Hill near the University of Ottawa head for the Rideau Canal with a canoe and paddles in tow in Ottawa on Sunday Sept. 20, 2009.

Pawel Dwulit/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Residents of Sandy Hill near the University of Ottawa head for the Rideau Canal with a canoe and paddles in tow in Ottawa on Sunday Sept. 20, 2009.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and the NCC suggested on social media this week they’re in discussions about testing the waters with new Rideau Canal access points for canoes and kayaks.

“I definitely support greater canoe & kayak access to the canal downtown,” McKenna tweeted on Sunday.

“We can do a lot better than this,” she continued, sharing a photo of two residents struggling to tip a large canoe over the canal barrier and into the water.

Last week the Glebe Community Association and the Old Ottawa East Community Association penned an open letter to the minister.

The letter suggests possible locations for floating docks along the downtown neighbourhoods that would allow residents to put boats in the water without the current struggle caused by a railing barrier.

Resident Olivier Whitehouse said he’s been in contact with Parks Canada for a year asking the department about a different option for canal access. Whitehouse has asked that Parks Canada unlock a gate along the canal near Waverley Street that would allow access to an already existing dock.

He said a manager from the organization confirmed in January that it was being discussed as a possible option.

The National Capital Commission Twitter account said on Sunday they were “looking into” the Waverley Street gate, but spokesperson Cédric‎ Pelletier said Parks Canada controls the waterway in the summer.

Neither Parks Canada nor McKenna would confirm any plans to add access points. Both said the organization was working on a plan to “enhance visitor experiences” that could include “services and facilities” along the canal.

Summer programming is expected to be released in a few weeks.

More on Metronews.ca