Whitewater Region -- Following six years of pay-per-use takeout access, Wilderness Tours is removing fees for private paddlers using the company’s property to launch and remove their boats from the water.
“The purpose of this is to provide a more equitable opportunity for all to experience the Ottawa River,” Katie Kowalski of Wilderness Tours told Whitewater Region council at its December 15 meeting. “The pay-per-use fee structure for paddler’s takeout access was to offset the costs associated with providing this service to the public, including road maintenance, snow removal, emergency response, waste collection, theft, vandalism clean-up, insurance and liability. Wilderness Tours recognizes the strain the paid model has had on the community and the barriers it placed for some paddlers. We’ve reflected on this and with our core value of sharing the magic of whitewater we are committed to access to the Ottawa River and to supporting the long-term growth and development of the whitewater community.”
Ms. Kowalski said starting in 2022 a simple check-in at the entrance reception office is all that will be required for takeout access.
“Complete 2022 park policies and access information will be published soon,” she said. “This is a long-term commitment to access that we feel is in line with our renewed commitment to community, economic equity and to benefit our local tourism community who also depend on access to the world-class whitewater as part of their own destination marketing.”
Ms. Kowalski and her father, Joe, attended the virtual meeting of council via Zoom technology.
This past June, Whitewater Ontario, a provincially-recognized sport-governing body, proposed a partnership with the municipality to establish a land use agreement and develop public access on McCoy Road, a municipal right-of-way, to create public recreational access for paddlers, swimmers, anglers, hikers and mountain bikers.
At its July 7 meeting, council passed a recommendation to direct township staff to continue to pursue long-term public access to the whitewater portion of the river; to further examine opportunities for partnership with Whitewater Ontario with regards to access and programs, and to investigate with property owners if access can be provided using existing put-in and take-out locations on private property to guarantee affordable public access, and that this be done before resorting to opening a now-unopened road allowance as recommended by Whitewater Ontario.
Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader