Rideau Canal users pleased by season not being cut short
Businesspeople and boaters who rely on the Rideau Canal are pleased that the federal government last week decided not to shorten the boating season.
Peter Boire has been docking in Merrickville for more than 40 years. He said he couldn't imagine a shorter boating season.
"That's where all the local businesses make their money, and it would have been a shame," Boire said.
At the Mainstreet Family Restaurant in Merrickville, owner Mike Neeling said a shorter season would have driven away tourism dollars.
"I'm very happy with the decision. I think it's a no-brainer, myself," he said.
Parks Canada runs the heritage waterways and has been looking at ways to save money. One idea was to shorten the length of the boating season to cut canal operating costs.
'Tremendous news,' Merrickville mayor says
Local businesspeople spoke out and municipal politicians lobbied the government, and on Thursday, the government changed its mind.
Douglas Struthers, mayor of Merrickville, Ont., called it "tremendous news." He said Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown played an instrumental role.
"The business community is very astute. They understood that this would not be good not just for my business, [but] collectively the business community and indeed, the residential community."
Parks Canada, meanwhile, still faces budget constraints and may consider raising fees for using the waterway.
Boire said he can live with increased fees, but not a shorter season.
"We'll take what we can get right now," he said, "and it looks like next year is going to be bright."
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the federal government last week reversed a decision to shorten the Rideau Canal boating system. In fact, a final decision to shorten the season had never been made.Oct 21, 2012 4:15 PM ET