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Rideau Canal Management Plan

Parks Canada's conducted consultations on a new Rideau Canal management plan from January 26 to May 14, 2021.

Our review of the plan shows that it has deep and substantive issues including a complete failure to meet Parks Canada's heritage and ecological mandates on the Rideau Canal. In addition, it does not address UNESCO's concerns, who in late 2019 stated that the management system of the site did not protect the outstanding universal value of the site and requested a new management plan. The following is our submission plus several others, including an extensive submission by Ken Watson and a critique of Parks Canada's management plan format and system by Manuel Stevens, former (retired) Parks Canada planner for the Rideau Canal:

You can view the Parks Canada draft plan here (PDF).

Of note, outside of a requirement for the management plan to address all of Parks Canada's legislated requirements (which it does not), another purpose of the plan is to provide public clarity and accountability of how Parks Canada will manage the Rideau Canal on behalf of all Canadians. Does this plan provide you with that required clarity and accountability?

Although the official consultation period has ended, you can still make your views known to the Director of Ontario Waterways, David Britton - david.britton@canada.ca

Parks Canada Management Plans

A management plan is a legislated requirement for Parks Canada. Section 32 of the Parks Canada Agency Act states that Parks Canada will "provide the Minister with a management plan for that national historic site or other protected heritage area in respect of any matter that the Minister deems appropriate, including, but not limited to, commemorative and ecological integrity, resource protection or visitor use, and that plan shall be tabled in each House of Parliament."

The timing for updating the plan used to be 5 years but was changed in 2012 to 10 years "The Minister shall review the management plan for each national historic site or other protected heritage area at least every 10 years and shall cause any amendments to the plan to be tabled in each House of Parliament." The last Rideau Canal management plan was done in 2005, so 2005 + 10 = 2015. We should in fact have had a new plan earlier with the massive management changes done in 2012 (the change to a new Waterways division should have required a new plan), and for sure in 2015 if Parks Canada actually followed its own legislation. But that never happened.

In general terms, the purpose of the plan is to ensure the commemorative integrity of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site, guide appropriate public use, ensure the application of cultural resource management principles and practices in decision-making and conserve the natural values of the Canal. Two of the submissions shown above, those by Ken Watson (submission) and Manuel Stevens (submission), discuss and review the purposes of a Parks Canada management plan.

Bottom line is that it's not supposed to be just a document to be written, it's supposed to be a document that guides management direction and provides for public clarity and accountability for how Parks Canada is managing the Rideau Canal on behalf of all Canadians. The draft plan, first released to the public in late 2020, does not meet any of those requirements.

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