The Ottawa Rowing Club is desperately searching for two missing docks worth nearly $15,000 that were purchased to make rowing more accessible for athletes with disabilities.
The wheelchair-accessible docks, installed on April 28, were a charitable gift. The money was donated by the Ontario trillium foundation to attract more athletes with physical and visual disabilities to the water.
The rowing club members believe two of the 10 sections were stolen between noon and 10 p.m. on May 17. Athletes returned from a regatta and immediately noticed the docks were missing.
Paralympic rower David Blair said it was disappointing.
"It feels like just another roadblock that got put in the place of para-rowing in Canada," he said.
Rowing Canada's Paralympic team member, Paul Hawksworth, called it "heartwrenching."
On Friday morning, City of Ottawa Coun. Mathieu Fleury tweeted that he plans to ask the rowing club what the city can do to help.
"Meeting Ottawa Rowing Club today about their 150th anniversary. I will ask how we can help with the [docks]," he wrote.
'They are crucial to what we do'
"They are crucial to what we do," he said. "We need to get more athletes with disabilities on the water. The fact we have less dock to do it, it does get in the way."
Rowing club members have been searching the Ottawa River for the missing docks with help from fishermen and the Rockcliffe Flying Club.
"I would love to think that somebody has located these docks and simply don't know where to return them," said Ottawa Rowing Club president Lana Burpee.
The club is asking anyone with information about the missing docks to call Ottawa police. Gatineau police, meanwhile, said its water patrol crew is heading out on the river this weekend and will also be on the lookout.