Trent Severn Waterway Update/Discussion MP Barry Devolin
February 15, 2013
Fenelon Falls Community Centre
There were 14 people present. Boat tour operators, Buckeye, 2 GCH Councillors, local business owners, associations.
1) Welcome from Barry Devolin, MP
2) Trent Severn Waterway Update – Barry Devolin, MP (BD)
BD gave a short oversight over the government structure leading to decision-making.
Parks Canada’s plan to combine TWS and Rideau Canal staff as one unit is well on its way.
TSW neglected for 30 years.
“It’s All About The Water” study (2007) is a well-rounded document. Some recommendations were followed, most recommendations very costly.
There are operational and capital issues for the TSW. $400 mill estimated to fix those over the coming years.
BD is moderately optimistic on the capital side: After a chunk of concrete fell off a bridge in Montreal the government was forced to review all its capital assets, infrastructure. (Assess cost of lawsuits?)
An audit was done on the human cost of failure. (i.e. flooding – loss of lives).
This report is not public at the moment.
Government is working on a 10 – 20 year plan. Even though Ottawa is running a deficit the chance of capital improvements is now much more likely then 3 years ago.
Federal operating budget deficit of $50mill now down to $20 mill. After strategically cutting 7% across the board.
Fed. Gov. proposed 1600 draft measures; TSW is the only one getting relief. About 20% success.
Government now looking at revenue side.
Parks Canada cuts: canals took a disproportional hit.
Good news: back to normal season with regards to number of days.
Bad news: shorter hours of lock operation.
2013 ‘Flying squat’ lock management, 2 workers in a pickup truck going from lock to lock.
Q: will this actually work? Are there facilities, food, motels where the boats will be parked? Ottawa recognises that this will not be an easy transition.
This will go ahead. Councillor Ron mentioned that the trucks have already been purchased for the lock operators.
2013 mooring fees could change: principal idea is: charge market price, do not subsidise boaters.
2014 New lock fees.
Commercial operators: BD argues Parks Canada has the wrong reference points with regards to the fee structure for commercial operators. Is in communication with boat operators to learn about their schedules and problems, i.e. supper cruises at Peterborough lift lock affected by shortened hours of operation.
Levy for recreational boaters: many boats do not use the locks and their use of TSW needs to be accounted for.
BD – all 4 MPs prefer a growth model rather than the ‘choking’ model of Parks Canada.
Private members bill proposing a new management model for the TSW: MP Barry Devolin is still working at this. Needs to look at all canals operated in Canada that are currently operated by Parks Canada. Would like to introduce his bill as an example of what could be done. Would prefer separate, arms length entity to manage the canals. Parks Canada wants to preserve nature, communities are looking to bring in revenue, promote tourism and increase business through TSW.
3) Discussion/Question and Answer Period
Q: What is Parks Canada’s or Fed. Gov.’s 5/10-year vision for the TSW. Will the locks simply be closed in the future?
Who is the decision maker?
What is the actual cost of lock services versus water management?
Engage the whole community in the discussion about TWS.
Don’t incur cost for another study. ‘It’s All about the Water” is still relevant.
Utilize hydro electric.
Make better use of PC’s properties to increase revenue.
Great worry that locks will be shut down, loss of revenue, loss of property value.
How to impose boat fees.
Local Councils asking if waterfront property owners would agree to a property tax surcharge! (strongly opposed this). Sounds like less service, more taxes.
Cottage Associations, individuals, businesses should send a letter to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Minister of the Environment, cc MPs
4) Closing remark, Barry Devolin, MP
1. Local MPs are challenging ‘Flying Lock Services” and are asking that adjustments be made. Major of Trenton will drive this issue. (i.e. if a lockmaster is sick there will be no service, no facilities to use)
2. Will further discuss mooring issues for commercial vessels.
3.Will follow up on 5-year plan with Parks Canada. Understand short-term budget cuts, but what is the long-term plan?