I welcome the news that the ban on commercial and recreational boating in the Ottawa River has been lifted.
First of all, thank-you to all the community volunteers and the emergency first responders for their mighty efforts on behalf of those adversely affected by this year’s flooding.
Now that river levels appear to be receding, safety is not a factor in continuing the commercial and recreational boat traffic ban on the Ottawa River.
Victoria Day weekend is traditionally the start of the tourist season in Eastern Ontario. The boat ban was having a devastating effect on tourist operators, who after suffering from damage due to flooding in some cases, were facing economic hardship every day the ban was in place.
While a ban on some parts of the Ottawa River may have been necessary for safety, it made no sense for tourist operators above the dam at the Swisha, where a lack of water has been their concern.
Likewise, the total ban made no sense for our world-class white-water rafting companies, who operate on a section of the Ottawa River that runs wild. Debris or wake damage from motorized boats are not an issue, nor are cottages or homes, which are absent from the channel of the Ottawa River being used by rafting companies.
I wrote to the Minister of Transport back on May 16th requesting an exemption to the total ban for that part of the river rafting companies conduct their business.
While it is unfortunate the Minister initially refused to act on their concerns, I am relieved the ban has been lifted.