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8.0 VISITOR SERVICES AND FACILITIES

Parks Canada provides a range of facilities and services so that visitors will be able to enjoy the Rideau Canal safely while protecting its cultural and natural values. As directed by the Historic Canals Policy, Parks Canada has a mandate to provide facilities and services for through-navigation and public use of lockstations.

It is recognized that effective provision of facilities and services for public use requires a co-ordinated effort by government and the private sector so that the needed services are provided in the most effective and efficient manner. The provision of facilities and services in the Canal corridor need to be thought of in terms of what visitors need, and then who is best suited to provide it.

Setting navigation aids in the Canal near Manotick
Setting navigation aids in the Canal near Manotick, Rideau Canal Photo Collection

The maintenance of the navigation channel is essential for a safe and enjoyable boating experience.

8.1 Current activity:

  • Provision of navigation facilities, services and information for safe and enjoyable through-navigation.
  • Provision of facilities, services and information at lockstations for land-based visitors and boaters.
  • Public safety information, services, and facilities.
  • Access for the disabled at lockstations where appropriate and where it can be undertaken without compromising the integrity of cultural resources.
Lock Staff at Burritt’s Rapids
Lock Staff at Burritt’s Rapids, Steve Wier

Lock Staff are Parks Canada’s ambassadors to the public.

8.2 Visitor Services Challenges

  • There is a need to define the respective roles of Parks Canada, municipalities and the private sector in the provision of visitor facilities and services.
  • Establishing quality standards for the tourism industry in the corridor to ensure that services and facilities are provided and maintained at a consistent standard.        

8.3 Strategic Goal:

To work with others to provide a wide range of appropriate recreational opportunities, facilities and services that enable visitors to enjoy the Canal.

8.3.1 Key Actions by Parks Canada:
  • Parks Canada will define and provide a basic level of facilities and services at lockstations which includes day-use facilities, docks, washrooms, and camping, and navigation aids along the Canal to meet the needs of Canal visitors.
  • Review and update orientation publications and other media to ensure that they provide information on visitor facilities and service provided by Parks Canada, as well as fees and safety measures.
  • Parks Canada will produce a public safety plan.
  • Provide access for the mobility impaired to Canal facilities where it can be achieved without compromising the commemorative integrity of Canal heritage buildings. Where the mobility impaired cannot be provided with access, attempts will be made to provide alternative interpretation through the use of videos, exhibits, website and other appropriate media.
  • Parks Canada will monitor client satisfaction to determine how well services and facilities are being provided and to identify changing needs.
  • Parks Canada will consider new services such as electrical power at lockstations on a full cost-recovery basis. Fees for such facilities will be set to reflect market pricing.
  • Performance standards will be established to measure how well facilities and services are being provided.
8.3.2 Key Actions in Co-operation with Others:
  • Market research to determine visitor needs and expectations will be undertaken in co-operation with various stakeholders, determined by specific research requirements, objectives and resources available.
  • In co-operation with tourism stakeholders, manage recreation facilities and activities in a way that promotes enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of the Canal, minimizes environmental impact, and reduces conflicts between user groups.
  • Encourage municipalities, conservation authorities and others to provide sufficient public access to the Canal.
  • The private sector will be encouraged to invest in appropriate new or enhanced facilities and services. If no private sector operator is willing, Parks Canada may provide the service or facility at full cost-recovery. In either case, new or enhanced services and facilities will not compromise the commemorative integrity or heritage character of the Canal and will be environmentally sustainable and cost-effective.
Big Rideau Lake
BIG RIDEAU LAKE