Transport Canada to inspect sunken trailer in Ottawa River

An abandoned camper trailer remains mostly submerged in the Ottawa River on the border of two Quebec municipalities while authorities squabble over who's responsible for removing it, frustrated residents say.

Responsibility for removing abandoned trailer remains point of contention

An abandoned ice fishing trailer remains mostly submerged in the Ottawa River. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Transport Canada says it will inspect a sunken trailer in the Ottawa River to determine whether it qualifies under law as an "obstacle," but the question of who will remove it remains open.

The abandoned camper trailer was used as an ice fishing hut last winter, but became mostly submerged when the ice melted. 

The top of the trailer can be seen from the end of Chemin Terry Fox, which separates Gatineau from the Municipality of Pontiac. It sits about 100 metres from shore, roughly on the border between the two jurisdictions.

Frustrated residents living nearby told CBC the two municipalities have been squabbling over which is responsible for removing the trailer from the water.

Stephen Partridge posted this photo of the fishing trailer sinking through the melting ice on Facebook in March. (Stephen Partridge)

Geneviève Pellerin, who lives in Pontiac, said residents who complained about the trailer have been met with a long list of excuses from the City of Gatineau, the municipality of Pontiac, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and the MRC des Collines police service.

No one has been taking responsibility for it.- Pontiac resident Geneviève Pellerin

"No one has been taking responsibility for it," said Pellerin. "Everyone is saying, 'Well, we don't have the authority. It's not our jurisdiction to take it out. We don't have the means to do it.' So we don't know."

'Dangerous to boats'

As frustrated as she is at the response, she is also concerns about safety as boating season approaches.

"I think it's ugly. I think it's dangerous to the boats that will be navigating there this summer," she said. "I think it's awful."

Marie-Eve Bertrand, who sits on the board of the nearby Aylmer Marina, agrees. "We're concerned about the safety of people who have small boats and power boats. Sometimes people are on the river at night."

Pellerin said fishing huts have sunk through the ice in the past. She believes licenses should be required for huts to foster a greater sense of responsibility.

"We really feel abandoned, in a way," she said. "I think it should be better managed."

In an email to CBC, Transport Canada says it will investigate to determine whether the trailer poses a risk to the public, the environment or "nautical safety." If so, the federal agency will determine whether it should be removed, "within the limits of its powers."

Transport Canada says it's working with Ottawa Riverkeeper.

A spokesperson for the Municipality of Pontiac says if the trailer happens to drift to its portion of the shoreline, the municipality will take responsibility for its disposal.

Geneviève Pellerin, a Pontiac resident, wants someone to take responsibility for the abandoned ice fishing trailer. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)