Improving Access to an Urban Waterway
In May of 2016, Parks Canada, in partnership with the National Capital Commission, established a summer pilot project to install a series of floating docks along the Rideau Waterway to create access points for canoe and kayak paddlers alike. The project is part of an investment in new infrastructure and restoration of canal walls, wharfs, bridges, and locks.
The Rideau Waterway, which was designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 2000, extends 202 km from Kingston to Ottawa, flowing through a chain of lakes, rivers and canals. It is a popular recreational destination for canoes, kayaks, and pleasure boaters. The waterway also has a rich history: original mechanisms such as the 47 “crab” winch locks that were installed during the mid-1800s are still used today. The Rideau Canal is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Exploring a City by Water
Before this pilot project, access to the waterway was limited for non-motorized vessels, as there were no access points from which to launch a boat in Ottawa’s urban core.
As of June 2016, two new docks have already been installed along the waterway for summer use, increasing the accessibility for recreation along the waterway, and providing opportunities for new water sports such as stand-up paddling to gain popularity. The first dock is located in the Glebe’s Patterson Creek, and the second in Old Ottawa East. These are the first of several potential new access points that will be introduced along the waterway between Kingston to Ottawa.
At the unveiling of the Patterson Creek dock, the Ottawa Centre MP, Catherine McKenna, who is also the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, along with members of local community associations, and residents of neighbourhoods along the Rideau participated in a celebratory flotilla travelling through the downtown core. These paddlers and many others will now be able to use the Rideau with ease.
Another popular downtown destination to participate in paddle sports is beautiful Dow’s Lake, which hosts the annual tulip festival each year and draws thousands of tourists and residents to the Rideau.
Connecting Canadians to Nature
Installing docks along the Rideau Waterway is a great example of increasing access to rivers for people living in an urban setting. Now, as community members paddle the Canadian Heritage River, they will be able to not only experience nature in the heart of the nation’s capital, but will also be able to experience the fascinating history of this 19th century wonder of civil engineering.