The operating season of the Rideau Canal and other waterways across the country won't change this season, according to the minister in charge of Parks Canada.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said in order to give businesses and communities time to adjust, plans announced in the federal budget to shorten the canal operating season would be put off this year.

"Our government recognizes the importance of these canals to the tourism industry and the many communities that rely of them," said Kent in a statement Friday. "We are committed to ensuring all our iconic destinations remain cornerstones of the Canadian tourism experience."

180th year of operation

The Rideau Canal opened to boaters today for its 180th year of continuous operation.

Sam Drinnan, who works as a captain for Bytown Brigantine Group Voyages, said before Kent's announcement that uncertainty about the length of the season has made planning the sailing season difficult.

Bytown Brigantine Group Voyages runs youth camps on the canal and the Ottawa River.

"It's tough," Drinnan said. "We are trying to plan our season and we're not sure whether to sell voyages or to just cancel them."

About 12,000 vessels use the canal system — from Kingston to Ottawa — each year.

Parks Canada advises users to be on the lookout for debris accumulated over the winter months. Navigation aids could also be missing, displaced or partially submerged.

People who notice anything out of place are asked to call 613-283-7199.