Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada

10 Principles for Good Development

The Rideau Canal National Historic Site, UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canadian Heritage River is recognized for its cultural and natural heritage, scenic and recreational values. As the landscape surrounding the canal is both dynamic and varied, the following “10 Principles for Good Development” can help to ensure that new development and redevelopment adjacent to the waterway, as well as in-water and shoreline works, respect, protect and enhance these values, for all to enjoy.

  1. Understand the landscape character
    The landscape character of the Canal changes with the topography and geology of the shore land. It varies from rocky forested uplands, forested lowlands, rural historic areas and developed urban areas. Understanding the landscape character of a site may influence the appropriate form of development.

    The landscape character of the Canal changes with the topography and geology of the shore land.
    The landscape character of the Canal changes with the topography and geology of the shore land.
    ©Parks Canada

  2. Conserve wetlands
    Wetlands are one of the most important and threatened natural resources on the canal. Loss of wetlands will result in the decline of natural resources, water quality, recreational, educational and cultural landscape values. The highest level of protection is afforded to significant wetlands and any impact from development must be avoided or minimized.

    We can enhance degraded shorelines with native trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic plants.
    We can enhance degraded shorelines with native trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic plants.
    ©Parks Canada

  3. Maintain a natural shoreline
    Natural shorelines help maintain the historic landscape character, control bank erosion, filter run-off, reduce sediment and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Soften and enhance degraded shorelines with native trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic plants. Avoid mown lawn to the waterline and hard artificial shoreline treatments such as concrete walls.

  4. Set back development from the shoreline
    New development must be set back at least 30 metres from the shoreline to create a buffer zone. In some circumstances a greater setback may be necessary.

    New development must be set back at least 30 metres from the shoreline to create a buffer zone.
    New development must be set back at least 30 metres from the shoreline to create a buffer zone.
    ©Parks Canada

  5. Plan the site to retain natural vegetation
    Locate new buildings, paths, driveways, lawns and septic tank systems within existing site clearings to avoid removal of natural vegetation as much as possible. Retain vegetation on skylines and ridges.

    Locate new buildings, paths, driveways, lawns and septic tank systems within existing site clearings to avoid removal of natural vegetation as much as possible.
    Locate new buildings, paths, driveways, lawns and septic tank systems within existing site clearings to avoid removal of natural vegetation as much as possible.
    ©Parks Canada

  6. Preserve historic buildings and cultural features
    Historic buildings, houses, barns, fences and other cultural features contribute to the historic landscape character of the Canal and should be preserved, reused and incorporated into new developments.

    Merrickville's historic downtown along the Canal.
    Merrickville's historic downtown along the Canal.
    ©Parks Canada

  7. Appropriate building design
    Carefully design new buildings to minimise their impact on the landscape character of the Canal. The scale, form, materials, and color of buildings are all important qualities. Generally traditional, natural materials and colors that blend with the landscape are recommended. Buildings should be low profile and not exceed the height of the tree canopy. New buildings should be designed to face the Canal, not turn their back to it.

  8. Low impact dock design
    Docks, waterfront access and boathouses must be designed to reduce the impact on fish, wildlife and the natural and visual qualities of the shoreline. Size, method of construction and materials are all important factors. Parks Canada’s In-Water and Shoreline Works Policies provide detailed guidelines. Cantilevered, pipe or floating docks are better than solid crib docks. Structures on the water must not interfere with safe navigation on the Canal.

    Generally traditional, natural construction materials and colors that blend with the landscape are recommended. Cantilevered, pipe or floating docks are also better than solid crib docks.
    Generally traditional, natural construction materials and colors that blend with the landscape are recommended. Cantilevered, pipe or floating docks are also better than solid crib docks.
    ©Parks Canada

  9. Minimize discharges to the Canal
    Avoid direct run off into the Canal including storm water, septic tank effluent and surplus water from artesian wells to help maintain water quality, reduce impact on fish habitat and prevent algae blooms from forming. Provide swales, infiltration ditches or dry wells to encourage infiltration into the ground.

  10. Seek further advice
    All new development on the waters of the Canal and adjoining land is subject to regulations and will require approval from the Local Municipality, Parks Canada and/or the local Conservation Authority. Contact one or all of these authorities for further advice and guidelines.

Further information can be found in these references: