The Trent-Severn Waterway has posted new signage for visitors reminding them of physical distancing recommendations, camping restrictions and other COVID-19 pandemic information with an influx of land-based visitors this summer
While the operating season for the Peterborough-based Trent-Severn Waterway was delayed due to the pandemic, the season is now in full swing for both water and land-based visitors with safety protocols.
By the end of July, the waterway had welcomed more than 48,000 vessels to the waterway, according to Parks Canada
“And as many Ontarians have chosen ‘staycation’ options this summer, we have seen an increase in land-based visitation at some sites on the Trent-Severn Waterway,” states a Parks Canada statement.
Peterborough County has also had an influx of new day-trip visitors during the pandemic, resulting in problems with parking congestion, littering and the refusal to abide by social distancing recommendations.
Coun. Gerry Herron said Selwyn Township has received several complaints about litter being left behind at local attractions located on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
“People are doing a lot of day trips and unfortunately, they’re not taking their garbage with them. We welcome day-trippers, however, we don’t welcome the pigs and the slobs and those who don’t care about our local environment here,” Herron said.
Items such as styrofoam worm containers, diapers and feminine hygiene products, for example, have been left behind by some, he said.
“Environmentally unfriendly items that create a biohazard for those who have to clean them up,” Herron said.
But he said it’s great news that a significant number of people have been travelling through the Trent-Severn Waterway with their vessels.
“Because typically those going through the lock system are spending money. They’re spending the night, they’re eating, they’re reloading on groceries… they’re not the typical day-trippers fishing from the shore and leaving their crap behind,” Herron said.
Asphodel-Norwood Mayor Rodger Bonneau said he’s a lot of economic money comes from boaters, particularly those coming from the United States, though the Canadian-American border remains closed to pleasure boaters this year because of the pandemic.
“I was a resident in Campbellford and I used to help out at a gas station and they had a bit of a marine station there too, and the amount of boats that came through way back was like huge. Every third boat coming to the marina basically was a United States boat,” Bonneau said.
He said he has also received several complaints about litter being left behind in areas located on the Trent-Severn Waterway, creating extra strain during an already difficult time.
“We had a lot of people coming here from out of town and there was a lot of litter left and it wasn’t very nice,” Bonneau said.
Parks Canada provides garbage and recycling receptacles for waste left behind by Trent-Severn Waterway visitors and is encouraging new visitors to make use of these facilities.
“Visitors are asked to respect other visitors, Parks Canada team members, and the national historic site itself by following regulations that are in place to protect the site and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all,” Parks Canada’s statement read.
While he believes litter being left behind at Squirrel Creek on the Trent-Severn Waterway has improved since earlier in the season, Otonabee-South Monaghan Mayor Joe Taylor of Otonabee-South Monaghan said it’s sickening to see how much litter is left in roadside ditches and various other places, not just by visitors, but also by locals.
“Some people in general are mindless and inconsiderate and they continue to think it’s OK to just toss their garbage wherever they’re done with it. I find it infuriating,” Taylor said.
“As a general problem, it still exists. It was amplified during the midst of this pandemic crisis, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve seen that on a decline, but in general there’s still far too much litter around, on our roadways, in our waterways … anywhere people congregate.”
Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner