Notes for an address at the Rideau Canal

March 01, 2014

Thank you for that kind introduction.

It gives me great pleasure today to officially announce that the Government of Canada will invest more than $4 million in Leeds-Grenville for the rehabilitation of the Poonamalie earth dam.

Like most of you here today, I am passionate about the Rideau Canal and I’m delighted that the much-needed work at Poonamalie will be completed over the next few years.

The project will not affect boat traffic in the canal, but will improve the dam’s long-term stability and enhance the safety of visitors.

Over the next two years, our government will also invest up to $3.2 million dollars throughout the Rideau Canal system for on-going preventative maintenance projects and visitor facilities.

In addition to the investment I’m announcing today, earlier this year, Economic Action Plan 2014 committed nearly $400 million to highways, bridges and dams in Canada’s national parks and historic sites. I look forward to providing details on this in the coming months.

As all these investments demonstrate, our government recognizes the important role that these components of our heritage play in our everyday lives.

The Rideau Canal, for instance, is a living link with a chapter of this country’s history.

Today, it accommodates a wealth of recreational activities, such as boating, swimming and skating. And it makes a valuable contribution to the region’s thriving tourism industry.

This is why the government of Canada continues to work with partners and communities to ensure that the Rideau remains a safe, navigable and attractive waterway.
And it’s also why I will continue to participate in the development of the Rideau Canal Heritage Corridor Visitor Experience Opportunities Concept, or VEOC.

The Rideau Canal—like any other component of Canada’s heritage infrastructure—can realize its full potential only through the involvement of many partners.

As we saw during the VEOC consultations, strong support exists for a collaborative, holistic approach to realizing the full potential of the Rideau Canal.

And today’s funding shows that the government of Canada is also playing an active role.

Canals are integrated systems where each small piece—like the Poonamalie earth dam—is essential to the operation of the whole.

The Poonamalie Earth Dam retains water from the Big Rideau and Lower Rideau Lakes and contributes to Parks Canada management of the water heading north from Poonamalie Lockstation to Ottawa Locks.

Since its construction more than 180 years ago, the Poonamalie dam has required periodic maintenance and renovation, and currently needs some major repairs.

I am pleased to announce that this project has already begun and that a contract for the design work required as the first step in this reconstruction project is being issued this week.

This reconstruction project will contribute to Parks Canada’s management of the canal in a safe and responsible manner. This, in turn, supports the tourism industry and recreational activities.

To ensure the section retains its historic look, stone will be salvaged from the existing walls at Minnow Creek waste weir and reused during reconstruction.

This investment will ensure that the Waterway remains a pillar of the local economy.

On a final note I should mention that Parks Canada is already gearing up for summer by selling discounted boating permits online until the end of March. All revenues generated by Parks Canada canal operations are reinvested back into the canals.

I encourage you to join us and make the Rideau Canal all it can be.

Thank you.