Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parks Canada cuts and the Rideau Canal

A late summerish item this morning. This is a great local paper report on the Rideau Canal and the challenges being faced by users, small businesses that depend on it, local residents, cottagers, etc. Parks Canada's budget has been cut by about $30 million and the impact on the Canal's operating hours and infrastructure are becoming issues. The report covers a local meeting Bob Rae happened to attend given that he summers on a lake in the riding of Leeds-Grenville. Rae mentions that the Rideau could possibly lose its UNESCO designation due to the infrastructure cuts. The article gives you a good sense of how this issue is affecting the communities there and the frustrations from local residents. The political upshot:
Rae added that he did not feel that cuts along the canal were a done deal and pointed out the political reality that, save for Liberal seats like Ottawa South, Ottawa-Vanier and Kingston and the Islands and the NDP's sole seat in Ottawa Centre, all of the waterway's other ridings, like Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington and Leeds-Grenville, are held by the federal Conservatives. Cuts along the canal would likely alienate traditional Conservative voters like small businesses, which could make Brown and MP Scott Reid's re-elections somewhat more difficult come 2015.
Elsewhere on a related issue, Dean Del Mastro in Peterborough (and three other local Conservative MPs in that neck of the woods) has been getting some heat on $3 million in cuts that will be hitting the Trent-Severn waterway as well. In this August 22nd report the idea of user fees on "day visitors, cottagers and permanent residents along the waterway, boaters who do not use the locks but operate their boats on lakes in the system, and anglers" to generate funds for the waterway is raised as a solution by Del Mastro, but the Parks Canada CEO says that's a no-go for people who are not using the system (i.e., the non-boaters).

Sounds like Del Mastro and his Conservative MP buds are in a bind given that the cuts to the waterway are causing concern and are scrambling to come up with solutions. Can't imagine local residents are going to appreciate being slapped with user fees or, dare we say, taxes to replace cuts to Parks Canada funding that probably shouldn't be made in the first place. Sounds like a great issue to run on against Del Mastro and his whole gang there.