CITY SECTION

 

Boat bypass angers residents
Fitzroy Harbour group objects to pleasure craft travelling quiet streets, conservation area
 
Dave Rogers
The Ottawa Citizen
CREDIT: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen

Fitzroy Harbour residents are furious about a Mississippi Valley Conservation decision they believe will allow thousands of pleasure boats to be towed through their community each season.

The federal government, Ontario and Quebec together will provide $1.4 million to establish a truck and trailer bypass to move boats around Chats Falls dam near Fitzroy Harbour, west of Ottawa.

The residents are concerned the conservation authority approval of the bypass through the Morris Island Conservation Area is the first in a series of decisions that could result in dozens of boats on trailers each day on quiet residential streets.

Project manager Gary Wiseman said yesterday he expects a bypass that will carry about 500 boats a season will be completed by the fall of 2004. The project still requires the approval of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans because it uses boat ramps on the Ottawa River.

Paul Lehman, general manager of the Mississippi Valley Conservation, said the authority would have to approve the boat launches before the bypass goes ahead. He said the authority has authorized the use of the rail bed and could approve the boat launches this summer.

The bypass service, which is already used at five other spots along the river, will use ramps to put boats onto trailers and set them back into the water on the other side of the falls.

The Chats Falls Boat Bypass will mean that for the first time, boats from as far up river as Lake Timiskaming, 550 kilometres away, will be able to follow the river to the Nepean and Aylmer sailing clubs.

The bypass would run from Willola Beach Road around Fitzroy Harbour Provincial Park, through Fitzroy Harbour and beside an abandoned rail line in the Morris Island Conservation Area to Lavergne Bay on the Ottawa River.

Village residents say Ottawa River Project Inc., the non-profit corporation that wants to build the bypass, should never be allowed to tow boats along residential streets and past the Morris Island Conservation Area. Opponents regard the planned bypass it as a safety hazard and a threat to the scenic conservation area west of Fitzroy Harbour.

Michael Campbell, president of the Willola Beach Property Owners Association said no one knows how many boats a season will use the bypass. Mr. Campbell said the bypass should be on the Quyon Ferry Road where there are fewer people.

"They shouldn't be putting this on residential streets where there are people," Mr. Campbell said. "There are children who skateboard, ride their bikes and play hockey and elderly people walking on the road. Boaters who aren't careful could run over children who are swimming."

Bruce Collier, a member of the Willola Beach Property Owners Association, said residents are disappointed in their councillor, Eli El-Chantiry, and other Ottawa council members who support the bypass, they say. Residents are planning a rally against the project at Fitzroy Harbour Community Centre today at 5:30 p.m.

"There is no problem with a boat bypass, but the location is a problem," Mr. Collier said. "In 1998, Mr. Wiseman was quoted as saying there would be 12,000 boats in a 100-day period. That means 100 boats a day up to 10 metres long.

"That would disrupt the Morris Island Conservation Area and quiet residential streets. There would be loud trucks going past two schools and a park used by 75 small children."

 
   

"They shouldn't be putting this on residential streets where there are people," Mr. Campbell said. "There are children who skateboard, ride their bikes and play hockey and elderly people walking on the road. Boaters who aren't careful could run over children who are swimming."

..."We are trying to figure why they need to put this through our area," Mr. Collier said. "There already is a canal which is 75 per cent completed on the Quebec side of the Chats Falls Dam."

 

 
 

Mr. Collier said tailings from a lead mine would be used to build a 45-metre earth ramp in the river at the end of Willola Beach Road and the channel will have to be dredged, possibly contaminating fish and wells in the area.

"We are trying to figure why they need to put this through our area," Mr. Collier said. "There already is a canal which is 75 per cent completed on the Quebec side of the Chats Falls Dam."

Mr. Wiseman said work stopped on the canal in 1856 when the builders realized most passengers and freight would travel by rail. He said it would cost about $20 million to complete the canal compared with $2.2 million for the bypass.

"The conservation authority has approved our going through the old rail bed," Mr. Wiseman said. "We will have to improve the trails and build foot bridges so people have the option of staying off the rail bed.

"The system has been running since 1991 (in other communities) and there has never been an accident or an incident on the water or on the roads. There are bypasses at Portage du Fort, Bryson, Chapeau, Mattawa and Timiskaming."

Mr. Wiseman said the bypass will attract tourists to the river. He said only a "core group of five or six people" oppose the project.

Mr. El-Chantiry said city council approved the bypass and allocated $350,000 for the work in April 2003 before he was elected. He said he opposes the proposed route through village traffic and the conservation area, but added it is too late to scrap the bypass.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:

 

Boat bypass will destroy

idyllic nature zone

The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Re: Trail mix: Nearby island offers peace and geese, June 5, and Boat bypass angers residents, June 8.

While my wife and I were enjoying a walk on one of the trails in Morris Island Conservation area, we remarked upon the beauty of the hardwood forest and speculated upon its appearance 100 years in the future. We agreed its present beauty would be magnificent if properly cared for. Our treat was the showing of lady's slippers along a portion of the trail.

At home I opened the Citizen's travel and leisure section to an article on Saturday about the conservation area, picturing Penny Scissons on the causeway that is part of the trail system. Perhaps the picture could have included a truck hauling a large boat through this area as part of a proposed boat bypass.

 
 
There has been a lack of openness in the whole bypass- approval process...

 
 

On May 28 the board of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority approved a staff proposal from the City of Ottawa that would see 500 trips a season in each direction along this trail. So much for Ms. Scissons's idyll.

This portion of the trail is part of a route enmeshed in community opposition. The residents of Fitzroy Harbour, now in the city, will see the same boats passing regularly through quiet residential streets. The proposed upper end of the boat bypass will require dredging and dock building in a sensitive fish-spawning area.

There has been a lack of openness in the whole bypass- approval process, which despite strong opposition and a potential cost of several millions of taxpayers' dollars appears headed for approval.

Lawrie Daub,
Arnprior

                                                      The Ottawa Citizen 2004


Ruining wilderness

The Ottawa Citizen

June 9, 2004

A magnificent wilderness and recreation area is about to be ruined. A bypass will truck power boats around the Chats Falls hydroelectric dam and plow right through Morris Island Conservation Area.

To mitigate the destruction of the habitat and peacefulness of the conservation area, the proponent is required to put up interpretive signs and build lay-bys so pedestrians can get out of the way.

Karen McKenna,
Ottawa

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004


Re: Time to launch tourism boat, June 9.

Building the Chat's Falls dam boat bypass through Morris Island Conservation Area will permanently ruin that area whether or not there is "really just a trickle of boat traffic -- rather than up to 12,000 as some residents fear" for the season.

The requirement to excavate by widening the main trail will disrupt natural habitation and create a devastating landscaping eyesore instead of its present natural tranquility. This conservation area is the only designated natural protected area on the Lac des Chats portion of the Ottawa River. Once destroyed, the beautiful landscape is forever gone. This conservation area must be retained in as natural a form as possible, rather than allowing the removal of trees for trail widening with the risk of contamination from leaking oil.

The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the City of Ottawa including ward councillor, Eli El-Chantiry, must immediately contact Pontiac Municipality on the Quebec side and Hydro Quebec to discuss building an alternative road less than a kilometre long, adjacent to the unfinished canal (west of the Chats Falls Dam on the Quebec side) compared to a proposed 12-kilometre roadway on the Ontario side. The advantages are reduced travel time for boaters and costs savings if the new road is built for a shorter distance.

Andrew R. Craig,
Ottawa

                                                      The Ottawa Citizen 2004


Waste of money

Re: Time to launch tourism boat, June 9.

The Citizen editorial paints an idyllic picture of tourists enjoying the beauties of the Ottawa River from Lake Temiskaming to the Nepean Sailing Club. Please note that this is a "sailing club," not a "motorboat club."

In general, the most likely users of a boat bypass are owners of large motorboats. All sailboats have masts, which makes it inconvenient for them to use a bypass, and many have fixed keels that are unsuitable with the proposed system.

The last thing we need on the Ottawa River are more noisy, polluting, environmentally damaging oversized motorboats. Those of us who enjoy the tranquility of the environment and value the integrity of the river's shoreline find it difficult to understand how taxpayers' money can be wasted on such a demonstrably unnecessary project.

Using the editorial's argument, it would seem that only few hundred well-heeled power boat users will enjoy the benefits of more than $3-million public funding.

Angie Shepherd,
Kinburn

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004

City ignores valid boat-bypass concerns

CREDIT: Jana Chytilova, The Ottawa Citizen
Lorne Clark, left, shown with his sons Darryl, 18 and Graham, 20, says planning for a proposed boat bypass has ignored valid options that would allow use of existing highways instead of a trail in the Morris Island Conservation Area (behind them).

Re: Time to launch tourism boat, June 9.

Along with my two sons, I joined 200 other residents last Tuesday for a discussion of the proposed Fitzroy Harbour boat bypass. The most poignant moment was when nearly all 200 raised their hands as a visible display of opposition to the proposed route. No area people spoke in favor of the bypass, and concerns were raised about all portions of the route.

Engineers and officials provided very informative presentations and responded to questions. The citizens raised very solid concerns with respect to child safety, impact on emergency services, environmental impact, economic viability (short and long-term), and the lack of transparency and accountability by Ottawa council.

Repeated requests have been made to see the business plan and environmental studies, but none has been provided.

The engineer provided a synopsis of the 14 considered sites and why they saw only one viable route. The key factor to eliminate all other routes was highway safety, not environmental impact or the safety of children.

 
 
The citizens raised very solid concerns with respect to child safety, impact on emergency services, environmental impact, economic viability (short and long-term), and the lack of transparency and accountability by Ottawa council.

...Decisions are made at city hall by councillors who review glossed-over summaries. They do not take the time to understand the valid concerns of their new rural residents.

 
 

The boat trailers are restricted to a speed of 60 km/h, because to go faster would severely inconvenience vacationing boaters as they would need to spend more time securing their boats for transportation. So the preferred solution is to have the boats travel on roads posted for slower speeds, such as residential streets, school zones, conservation areas and rural roads.

The engineer indicated that the option of properly securing the boats so that they could travel at highway speeds at 80 km/h was not considered. This would enable transport of boats on secondary highways and reduce the requirement for new infrastructure.

The Citizen's editorial is naive, but it does illustrate a key issue: Decisions are made at city hall by councillors who review glossed-over summaries. They do not take the time to understand the valid concerns of their new rural residents. The boat bypass is a good issue to change that.

Lorne Clark,
Arnprior

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004

 

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