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Save Our Rideau
Public Meeting with Gord Brown, MP - July 24, 2012

Gord Brown, MP for Leeds and Grenville, held a public meeting in Lombardy on July 24, 2012 about the proposed cutbacks to the Rideau Canal. There was a large crowd (about 200) in attendance, all worried about the threat to the Rideau Canal posed by the Government of Canada cuts and how Parks Canada is applying these cuts. The audience included two former Superintendents of the Rideau Canal, John Bonser and Gord Giffin, both very concerned about the direction Parks Canada is taking with the Rideau Canal.

Although Mr. Brown initially wanted the meeting to stay on the narrow focus of cuts to the operating season and ideas for how to increase revenues or decrease costs, many people spoke quite passionately of the heritage values of the Rideau Canal and the need to protect those. Interestingly it was Mr. Brown, who sits on the Standing Committee for Canadian Heritage, that suggested that perhaps given its recent poor track record, Parks Canada isn't the best agency to be managing the Rideau Canal.

There were a number of well informed speakers, including some that have dealt with the management of the Parks Canada. It was noted that Parks Canada's HQ management has dramatically increased in recent years, management that is busy protecting itself from the cuts - one of the reasons for the disproportionate cuts now being applied to field programs and staff.

Several speakers did deal with the economic impacts of the cuts. Peter Hurst, owner of Hurst Marina, a multi-million dollar business and one that employs dozens of people, made it quite clear that cuts to the operating season were going to have a dramatic negative impact his business and all the other businesses his operation supports. Several other business owners told Mr. Brown about how the cuts would directly impact their businesses.

There were also several with the message of the need for public/government co-operation, that Parks Canada's current isolationist policy certainly isn't properly serving the Rideau Canal. It was quite clear that there are a large number of people willing to help out if given the chance by Parks Canada to do so.

Many interesting ideas were put forward. For instance, Dave Walker of the Rideau Waterway Land Trust noted that while there are tax incentives in place to protect ecological sites, that there are no such tax incentives for Canadian heritage. If such tax incentives were implemented, they could leverage a large amount of private money for the protection of Rideau heritage.

Gord Brown got a number of very good ideas. He heard first hand the passion people have for the Rideau Canal and the overriding message that the Government of Canada need to properly protect and present this national treasure. Hopefully he will transmit all of this to his colleagues in the government, particularly to Minister Peter Kent who so far has been silent on these issues.

Gord Brown, MP Gord Brown, MP
Gord Brown, MP

Gord Brown, MP

Captain Lance Hunter McGill
Captain Lance Hunter McGill, Friends of the Rideau

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