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14 August 2012

Rideau Canal budget cuts must stop

It's hard to make sense of Parks Canada's decision to take a large part of it's 29.2M planned budget cuts out of its most important heritage canal - the Rideau Canal. After spending money preparing proposals to UNESCO (the United Nations) to consider the Rideau Canal a World Heritage Site, they finally succeeded in 2007.

In the five years since it was declared a World Heritage Site, Parks Canada has made none of the required "investments" and promotion to realize even small improvement in the Rideau Waterway's tourism potential. Removing 20% of its budget, after years of neglect, will have a devastating affect on its tourism potential.
"The Rideau Canal, a monumental early 19th-century construction covering 202 km of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers from Ottawa south to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario, was built primarily for strategic military purposes at a time when Great Britain and the United States vied for control of the region."

By the Numbers

Parks Canada annual spending on all canals: $18 M (million)
  • Parks Canada income from locking and dockage fees: $2.2M
  • Parks Canada total budget cuts: $29.2M
  • Budget cuts to all nine historic canals: $6M
  • Budget cut to Rideau Canal: $2M
    The proposed cuts to the Rideau Canal represents 20% reduction of their current budget. Income from parking fees was not included.
I'm not the first person to point out that private business increases "income" by finding ways to attract more customers, from renovatations and improving service to more effective advertising. Reducing staff and maintenance while raising prices is a sure fire way to go out of business! Can you imagine the United States deciding to restrict access to one of their national parks by charging higher fees and closing it for part of the year?
"Rideau Canal (Canada), a cultural property, was listed as the best preserved canal in North America from the great canal-building era of the early 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its original structures intact."
The Rideau Canal faces crippling budget cuts just as the federal and provincial governments are planning various commemorations of the War of 1812, of which the Rideau Canal construction played an strategic part. I wonder how many canal-side communities will be bringing more visitors, which of course bring tourist dollars to land-based events. Parks Canada doesn't make a nickel from these activities even though many of them will be held beside the canal. The federal government is cutting of their nose to spite their face. The towns, canal, lockstations and communities along the canal are all part of an untapped tourist resource, that the government should be investing in, not chopping.



At December 09, 2012, Blogger orion vaughan said...

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