Trent-Severn Waterway 2022 boating season traffic dips 4.8% despite ‘exceptional’ mooring rates

Overall boating traffic along the Trent-Severn Waterway dipped 4.8 per cent this year compared to the 2021 season, according to Parks Canada.

During the 2022 navigation season, which began on May 20 and ended on Oct. 10, the Trent-Severn Waterway locked 113,312 boats and recorded 13,739 nights of mooring, Parks Canada communications officer Maureen Belej told The Examiner.

This year, Lock 31 at Buckhorn saw the most activity along the waterway — which runs between Trenton on the Bay of Quinte and Port Severn on Georgian Bay — with more than 8,000 vessels locked through, Belej said.

Last year, 118,772 were recorded along the 386-kilometre route — an 11 per cent uptick from 2020s shortened boating season.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, the waterway didn’t open until early June, with some limitations, instead of May. The waterway hosted a total of 106,357 vessels that year.

In 2019, Parks Canada recorded 121,781 vessels on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Despite the dip in locked vessels this season, mooring numbers in May, June and July were “exceptional,” outpacing at least the last six years of data, according to Belej.

After Buckhorn, Bobcaygeon was the second most popular lock station, followed by Burleigh Falls.

July was this season’s top month for vessel traffic, with 44,621 vessels locked through in that month alone, an increase of 15 per cent over the previous year,” Belej said.

Compared to 2020 levels, Parks Canada’s mooring numbers along the Trent-Severn Waterway have risen considerably.

“Mooring rates have increased 38 per cent in the last couple of years to a higher level than the two years before the pandemic,” Belej said.

For decades, the waterway has been accessed by “Loopers” — American travellers who embark on loops around the Great Lakes. Restrictions prevented “Loopers” from travelling the waterway during the pandemic.

“Parks Canada was happy to welcome back “Loopers” after travel restrictions were lifted due to the pandemic. For this particular demographic, boater traffic was up 17 per cent when compared to 2020,” Belej said.

With lock stations now closed until mid-May, Parks Canada is reminding the public that any use of the waterway is at one’s risk. The public is encouraged to use caution in and around waterway structures and channels over the winter months, when ice can form unmarked hazards.

“Boaters should note that aids to navigation may be missing, off-station, or inoperable until the following spring. Also, the lock stations’ stairs and walkways may be covered with leaves, snow and ice,” Parks Canada advises.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner