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31 January 2013

Rideau Mayors angry at Parks Canada

An article in the Ottawa Sun this week shows that even the mayors of all the towns along the Rideau Canal are angry with Parks Canada's proposed fees. They know the nascent Rideau Canal tourist industry will be ruined by it. Mayors angered over skyrocketing canal fees - Ottawa Sun, Jan.27, 2013

I am hoping the Canadian Government will realize heritage canals don't belong under the Environment Minister. They can't possibly maintain a World Heritage Site with "user pay". The canals cannot bear the entire burden of budget cuts to Parks Canada. I propose they increasing national park tent camping to $100 - would people vote for the government that did that?  Related posts:

19 January 2013

Parks Canada proposal adds 6-day & Season Pass

Proposed canal fees have been adjusted on the Parks Canada website. They have added a seasonal pass (about double in price) and a 6-day pass, but not a canal transit pass. (Fees for 30-foot boat in brackets, my notes in green)

1. Single Lock $.60/ft ($18) 
   2012: $.45/ft in 2012 +33% based on $.90/ft 2-way fee

2. Multiple and Large Locks $.90/ft  ($27)
   ($.45/ft in 2012 +100%)

Will cost $16.20/ft ($486) to transit all Rideau Canal locksexcept Beverides. In 2012 it was $4.65/ft ($139.50) to transit the Rideau Canal one-way. 

3. Six Day pass $7.20/ft  ($216)   
   ($5.05/ft in 2012 +43%)
Unlimited lock passages for 6 individual days (does not need to be consecutive days.)

One-day pass missing - one of the most popular choice.

4. Seasonal Pass  $15.00/ft   ($450)
  ($8.80/ft in 2012 +70%)
Unlimited locking on all Parks Canada canals for a year.

Fees in the New York State canals for a 30-foot boat are $15 for a 2-day lock pass, $37.50 for 10 days, and $75 for the entire year (compare $450 above). Commercial fees are $10 per passenger capacity for hour dayliners (assume it's day tours); $30 for ships with cabins. It's interesting that about 25 years ago the NYS canals landscaped their lockstations and removed fees about the same time as the Rideau and Trent-Severn Canals started charging for lockage.

Related posts:

17 January 2013

Save money - just "close" locks

It explains a lot about government audits of Canada's heritage canals. Imagine - you can cut costs by simply closing a few locks. How you operate a "canal" with even a single closed lock seems to have escaped them.

32.4 Navigation serves a very limited and declining market. In a typical year, no more than 1,370 {Trent} and 2,200 {Rideau} boats navigate the entire Trent-Severn Waterway and Rideau Canal respectively. Although the canals operate for five months, 80% of boaters use them during July and August only. Shortening the navigation season would reduce operating costs by approximately 45%. In addition, combining a shorter season with the closing of underutilized locks could result in savings of close to $10 million annually.  [1996 November Report of the Auditor General of Canada]

2,126% increase for Rideau Canal tour boat

"Canal fees could sink tour vessels" article by Don Butler (The Ottawa Citizen Jan.17-C14) says the river cruise ship "Kawartha Voyageur" faces 2,126% increase in fees over last year and the day tour boat Rideau King 1,100%. Did I miss something?  Don't the genius policy wonks in Parks Canada know boats can move? Here's a similar article from Peterborough Examiner:

Obviously Parks Canada policy for heritage canals is made by people who have never made a canal transit, or possibly never been on a boat or a gone through a lock. They certainly have no appreciation of  the enormous economic spin-off of canal traffic (boats and tourists) on the surrounding towns. High fees just reduce boating tourists, which in turn reduces land tourists - what will they come for after the boats have gone?! I'm certain that the budget cuts will be to canal staff and maintenance. It should be made to Parks Canada office staff in Ottawa.

Email your comments to Parks Canada at before Feb. 18, 2013. I hope they get lots of feedback about this foolish proposal.  What were they thinking?

12 January 2013

New Fees proposed for Federal Canals (updated)

Rideau canal lock
Updated January 19, 2013

Parks Canada is proposing a fee structure for parks and heritage canals that is confusing, complicated and much more expensive (2 to 4 times more than 2012) across the board.

Proposed mooring fees will take effect in 2013 and lockage fees will take effect in 2014.

In the past, boat traffic through canals has dropped significantly after fee increases, and this proposed increase will definitely have the same effect. Why are they continuing to repeat the same mistakes? Improving boat traffic requires simple promotion, but staff cuts and fee increases does the opposite. The public must fight back.

(Fees for a 30-foot boat are shown in brackets.)

A completely new (and confusing) fee system proposed for locking uses tickets. One ticket costs $.30 per foot of boat ($9), but you need 2 tickets for the smallest locks ($18), 3 for larger locks ($36), and 4 tickets ($48) for multiple locks.

In 2012, each lockstation was $0.90/ft ($27), a 6-day pass $5.05/ft ($151.50), and transiting the entire canal one-way $4.65/ft ($139.50). Seasonal lock passes were $8.80/ft ($264).  Mooring (overnight) was $0.90/ft ($27), with annual dock passes $9.80/ft ($294).

The proposed fees for 2013/2014 list no annual passes, usually used by local and boats cruising both Rideau and Trent canals. It's hard to imagine why this has been eliminated. The fee increase is so ridiculous, it will kill this type of canal use.

I counted 40 tickets ($360) to transit the Rideau Canal from Ottawa to the Rideau Lakes and another 20 ($180) including the Narrows lock down to Kingston. That 60 tickets would cost our 30-footer $540 to transit the canal.  Assuming the fees are one-way, a whopping $1080 for a return trip. And don't forget to add fuel plus overnight docking of $60 each night.

Here are a few samples:
  • Lock tickets $0.30/ft ($9)
  • Lock tickets online $0.23/ft ($6.90)
  • Lock tickets commercial $0.60/ft ($18)
  • Mooring fees $2/ft ($60)
  • Mooring day fee $1/ft ($30)
  • Mooring power hookup $13/night
  • Heritage presentations $88.75/hr
  • Rent outdoor shelter $50/day
  • Use of grounds $100/hr
Commercial fees will be 10 to 20 times greater than last year. Tour boats will leave the canal or go bankrupt. Parks Canada suggested percentage of receipts, not understanding that tour boats cost much more to equip and operate than a tour bus.

Email your comments to Parks Canada at from Jan. 11 to Feb. 18, 2013 only to comply with the official User Fees Act.

Will the last boater leaving the canal please close the lock gate.

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Heritage canals affected: Rideau Canal, Trent Severn Waterway, Chambly Canal, Carillon Canal, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal, Lachine Canal, St-Ours Canal.

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9 January 2013

Boating in Canada also on Twitter

Important news is posted right here, and it's also archived.
But since 2009, other news and information has been posted to @BoatingInCanada on Read it at, but getting a free twitter account allows you to follow multiple accounts easily. I follow lots of boating accounts and re-tweet anything I think Canadian boaters might find interesting. When I have time!  Feedback always welcome.