Working Hard to Safeguard Paddling Assets for All Canadians

All about Whitewater

All about Whitewater
A Blog about River Preservation and the need to protect our free flowing whitewater resources

Friday, March 16, 2007

River Modification Policy

Whitewater Ontario
Policy Manual


Conversion of whitewater paddling potential to hydro power supply

Date: 2007 03 12

Organizations Affected:
Ontario Power Authority Supply Planners,

Approved by Whitewater Ontario Executive: Not yet approved
Review Dates:


Whitewater Ontario, a not-for-profit organization under the umbrella
of Canoe Ontario serves as the voice of paddlers' interests to government and business. We are the designated provincial whitewater sport paddling organization and owner/operator of the Minden Wild Water Preserve in Minden. We have a membership of around 500 active members, 6 active clubs, and 25 corporate members across the province.

We believe that the best development is one which takes into consideration the multiple values of a resource. Whitewater Ontario is very interested in all aspects of river development which may impinge upon the traditional rights of whitewater recreational and commercial paddlers.

Our organization wants to increase access to whitewater resources and work cooperatively to develop whitewater recreation opportunities in Ontario and Canada.


Rivers must be regarded as public navigable rivers in law when they are navigable in fact. And they are navigable in fact when they are used, or are susceptible of being used, in their ordinary condition, as highways for commerce, over which trade and travel are or may be conducted in the customary modes of trade and travel on water - this definition has been expanded to include recreational whitewater paddling use.

1. A river is regarded as a “public navigable river” if it is susceptible of being used in its ordinary condition as a highway for commerce over which trade and travel are or may be conducted in the customary modes of travel and trade on water.
2. A river that is navigable in fact is navigable in law.
3. The test of navigability, as applied to “navigable waters,” is the capability of being used for useful purposes of navigation, of trade and travel in the usual & ordinary modes, and not the extent and manner of such use.

The beds of rivers flowing through public lands are usually owned by either the federal or provincial government. These rivers are open for public use, and subject only to regulation by the agency managing the adjacent lands.

Legal cases have established the fundamental understanding that the management of public natural resources must avoid substantial impairment of natural resources, the appearance of discrimination between competing uses, and implementation of discriminating fees.

Furthermore, despite the recent advertising and promotional campaigns by Ontario Power Generation Corp, (OPG) There is no evidence that recreational canoe and kayak access downstream of dams poses a security risk and further, in the case of Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa vrs. the attorney General there is no evidence that navigating the sluice of a properly designed water control sluiceway is dangerous.

Whitewater enthusiasts are often stereotyped as mindless thrill-seekers with a death wish. The reality is quite different. Paddlers represent a true cross-section of our society and include many highly educated professionals. They know the limits of their skills, and by choosing what rapids they run, they control the intensity of their experience. It is a life-long sport that nurtures a love for wild places and an appetite for low-impact, human powered travel. Extreme paddlers are especially calculating when exposing themselves to danger. Today 28% of all Canadians currently participate in – or intend to participate in – this type of activity.

Whitewater paddlers, like other risk sport enthusiasts, approach their activity with a focus and intensity not often found in traditional outdoor recreation. They’re aware of the dangers and take concrete steps to avoid them. They purchase highly specialized equipment and work hard to develop the skills they need. They condition themselves mentally and physically and learn first aid and rescue skills before setting out. They have a strong sense of personal responsibility and a full understanding of the consequences of their actions. Drug and alcohol abuse is quite rare. Because of their expertise and involvement the actual risks they face are not much more than those encountered by inexperienced people in traditional outdoor recreation slightly fewer deaths than rock climbing and slightly more deaths than recreational swimming.

Natural Rivers

Whitewater Ontario opposes modifications to natural, free-flowing rivers, to rivers that have been designated as wild or scenic, and to rivers which have been named by managing agencies as eligible or suitable for such designation.

Case by Case Decisions
Whitewater Ontario views proposals for river modification with caution, recognizing that changes, once made, may be difficult or impossible to unmake and in many cases may create new and often more dangerous conditions. Whitewater Ontario may oppose, not oppose, or endorse proposed modifications to rivers depending upon the specific needs, impacts and details associated with this action. Whitewater Ontario may assist with planning or funding of river modifications if it endorses those modifications.

Guided by this River Modification Policy, Whitewater Ontario will either support or not support proposed river modifications. Before choosing to endorse a river modification, the President will consult with the appropriate Committees and seek ratification by the Executive of Whitewater Ontario.

No Harm Policy
Whitewater Ontario will oppose proposals for river modifications unless it has reason to believe that the proposed modification will not adversely impact the enjoyment of rivers by other recreational groups and will not have a significantly adverse effect on the riverine ecosystem.

Categories of Modifications
Whitewater Ontario considers modifications to rivers associated with recreational paddling to be for one of three purposes: for enhancing safety, improving navigability, or enhancing recreational opportunities.

Enhancing Safety
Modifications for the purpose of enhancing safety include changes that remove or reduce objective dangers, such as demonstrated entrapment hazards. A decision by Whitewater Ontario in favor of safety modifications is more likely if

(a) the modification does not change the physical or visual characteristics of a rapid,
(b) the river receives a high level of use, and
(c) the hazard in question has been demonstrated to cause drownings or near drownings.

Improving Navigability
Whitewater Ontario opposes river modifications for the purpose of improving navigability including changes to rapids that make passage of boats easier or that reduce the difficulty rating of rapids.

The organization recognizes that portaging is usually an option for avoidance of specific obstacles and that advances in technique, skill, and equipment have historically made impossible rapids possible and difficult rapids routine.

Presently, unrunnable or difficult rapids are tomorrow’s first descents or play spots.
It is Whitewater Ontario's position that there is a firm distinction to be made between improvements for the purpose of improving navigability and those made for reduction of objective hazards.

For this reason, a proposed modification to remove a subjective hazard (such as a wave that routinely flips rafts) or to reduce the overall difficulty of a rapid is considered by Whitewater Ontario as a modification for the purpose of improving navigability rather than safety.

Enhancing Recreational Opportunities
Modifications for the purpose of enhancing recreational opportunities range from moving a few rocks to enhance a play hole to the construction of a completely artificial whitewater race course. A decision by Whitewater Ontario on proposed recreational enhancements hinges on the degree of previous modification of the river, the degree of terrestrial development along a river, impact of the proposal on the riverine and riparian ecosystems, and impact on enjoyment or future enjoyment by other recreational users. For example, Whitewater Ontario would oppose modifications for recreational enhancement of a pristine, wilderness river, but might choose to endorse the construction of a play hole in a highly modified, urban river.

Artificial Structures Obstructing Navigability
Whitewater Ontario opposes construction of structures or artificial placement of natural and synthetic materials which may interfere with navigation. These structures include but are not limited to dams, weirs, bridges, fences, and fish habitat structures.

At existing low head dams, Whitewater Ontario advocates dam removal or modification for safe passage. In cases where modifications are not possible, Whitewater Ontario advocates availability of portage routes.

Stakeholder Involvement and Agency Approval

Whitewater Ontario will not endorse river modifications on whitewater rivers which do not seek public input and comment. Public comment must include Whitewater Ontario, local whitewater clubs, and other local regional and national river recreation and conservation organizations. Whitewater Ontario will also not endorse any river modification proposal that has not obtained the necessary managing agency permission prior to construction.

In general, Whitewater Ontario opposes river modifications made without consultation with a broad spectrum of user groups or made without agency authorization and which have not made signficant and best efforts to mitigate environmental effects on whitewater navigation.

Whitewater Ontario would like to be directly notified, via email dispatches, of pending river development projects that may impinge upon traditional whitewater paddling activities including bridges, or dams, which may curtail traditional navigation as described under the Navigable Waters Protection Act and any shore side development which may curtail traditional access and portage rights.

No comments:

Canadian Rivers

Canadian Rivers
I speak for river users too!

The Queen is not amused!

The Queen is not amused!

The Damned Dam - 2005 -

The Damned Dam - 2005 -
22nd Annual Kipaw Rally has modest turnout. - 23rd does better

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

Whitewater Ontario

Whitewater Ontario
Working Hard to Protect Canada's Paddling Resources

Whitewater Ontario - Mission Statement

It is Whitewater Ontario’s mission to support the whitewater paddling community through the promotion, development and growth of the sport in its various disciplines. We accomplish this through the development of events, resources, clubs, and programs for personal and athletic development, regardless of skill level or focus, to ensure a high standard of safety and competency; We advocate safe and environmentally responsible access and use of Ontario’s rivers. Whitewater Ontario is the sport governing body in the province, and represents provincial interests within the national body Whitewater Canada and the Canadian Canoe Association

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican
If Hydro Quebec is not actively pursuing Tabaret what is that bite out of Opemican for?

Kipawa Dam: After

Kipawa Dam: After
Laniel Dam at 2006 Rally

Where is the Kipawa

Where is the Kipawa
Kipawa flows into lake Temiskamingue, running from Kipawa Lake, under hwy 101 in Quebec

Kipawa Dam

Kipawa Dam
laniel dam at 2004 River Rally

Tabaret is a Bad Idea

About the Kipawa

The best thing paddlers can do to help the cause of the Kipawa:

1. attend the rally and bring others including non paddlers to attend and buy beer and have fun

2. write your MP /MNA and raise the issue and post your objections -1 letter = 200 who didn't write

3. Write Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro Quebec strongly opposing the 132 MW standard decrying the use of "diversion" as the most environmentally inappropriate method of power production

4. Write Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec protesting that either the algonquin or the tabaret project will eliminate all other values on the Kipawa River by turning it into a dry gulch.

5. See if you can get other allied groups interested by showing your own interest, ie the Sierra Defense Fund, Earthwild, MEC, and so on.

6. Demand further consultation

7. Currently we are at the point where we need to sway public opinion and raise awareness.

However, if all else fails, don't get mad, simply disrupt, foment, and protest . The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Have you read Edward Abbey?

Important Addresses
CEO,Hydro Québec, 75 boul René Levesque, Montreal, P.Q., H2Z

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Two)

Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa is poised to use an application to the Federal Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus to ensure the Minster does what he is supposed to do, protect the public's right to navigate the water control structure at Laniel, Quebec using the Navigable Waters Protection Act. (see

In the now gutted Navigable Waters Protection Act lay the means by which the Minister of Transport could keep the public right of passage down our great Canadian Heritage, our rivers and streams which are threatened especially by resource corporations and power brokers such as Hydro Quebec.

These powerful entities continue to petition that 'this' river or 'that' stream is not navigable and therefore not protectable.
I don't say that dams and bridges should not be built, only that if they are, historical navigation rights should be considered and preserved by making reasonable accommodations for recreational boaters.

It is the Minister of Transport, in exercising the right to allow or disallow work on or over a navigable waterway is what keeps boats and recreational boaters plying our waterways.

To many recent cases launched in the Federal Court concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act, most recently the case of the Humber Environment Group of Cornerbrook Newfoundland versus the Cornerbrook Pulp and Paper Company indicates that the important oversight is not being faithfully performed. Have we really come to the point now where we must say "such and such a stream is one foot deep, possessing so many cubic feet per second flow and so on?" The answer to this is... YES!

The honourable Mr. Justice John A. O'Keefe, ruled that it had not been shown that the river was navigable. How convenient was that to the Minister? But either the Minister of Transport acts to protect our rivers and streams as a public right or he does not and that means rivers and streams currently enjoyed by kayakers and canoists.

Enough of the cheating, and double-talk. Canadians! our rivers and streams are our own, lets urge the Minister of Transport and the our government to protect them.

Peter Karwacki

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Three)

10 Reasons WhyTabaret is a Bad Idea1) Tabaret is too big. The station is designed to useevery drop of water available in the Kipawawatershed, but will run at only 44 percent capacity.We believe the Tabaret station is designed to usewater diverted from the Dumoine River into theKipawa watershed in the future. 2) The Tabaret project will eliminate the aquaticecosystem of the Kipawa River.The Tabaret project plan involves the diversion of a16-km section of the Kipawa River from its naturalstreambed into a new man-made outflow from LakeKipawa. 3) Tabaret will leave a large industrial footprint on thelandscape that will impact existing tourismoperations and eliminate future tourism potential. 4) The Tabaret project is an aggressive single-purposedevelopment, designed to maximize powergeneration at the expense of all other uses. 5) River-diversion, such as the Tabaret project, takinglarge amounts of water out of a river’s naturalstreambed and moving it to another place, is verydestructive to the natural environment. 6) The Kipawa River has been designated a protectedgreenspace in the region with severe limitations ondevelopment. This designation recognizes theecological, historical and natural heritage value ofthe river and the importance of protecting it.Tabaret will eliminate that value. 7) If necessary, there are other, smarter and morereasonable options for producing hydro power onthe Kipawa watershed. It is possible to build a lowimpactgenerating station on the Kipawa river, andmanage it as a “run-of-the-river” station, makinguse of natural flows while maintaining other values,with minimal impact on the environment. 8) The Kipawa watershed is a rich natural resource forthe Temiscaming Region, resonably close to largeurban areas, with huge untapped potential fortourism and recreation development in the future.Tabaret will severely reduce this potential. 9) Tabaret provides zero long-term economic benefitfor the region through employment. The plan is forthe station to be completely automated andremotely operated. 10) The Kipawa River is 12,000 years old. The riverwas here thousands of years before any peoplecame to the region. The Tabaret project will change all that.

Problems on a local River?

  • There is more to do as well but you have to do your research and above all, don't give up.
  • IN the meantime prepared a document itemizing the history of navigation of this spot and its recreational value. Use the Kipawa river history of navigation as a guide: see
  • Under the Ministry of Environment guidelines you have a set period of time to petition the change under the environmental bill of rights, you may have limited time to take this action. But it involves going to court for a judicial review of the decision.
  • 4. contact the ministry of natural resources officials and do the same thing.
  • 3. contact the ministry of the environment and determine if they approved the project
  • 2. determine if the dam was a legal dam, approved under the navigable waters protection act.
  • 1. research the decision and timing of it to determine if an environmental assessment was done.

Minden Ontario

Minden Ontario
Gull River Water control at Horseshoe lake

A History of Navigation on the Kipawa River

Prior to the environmental assessment there was no signage at the Laniel Dam

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!
Send $25 and a stamped self addressed envelop for the Tshirt, and for the bumper sticker, a stamped and self addressed envelope with $5.00 for the bumper sticker to Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa, 80 Ontario St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 1K9 or click the link To purchase a Les Amis "T" contact Doug with the following information: Number of shirts:Sizes: Ship to Address: Method of Payment: cash, cheque and paypal, Shipto address:

Bumper Stickers Now Available

Bumper Stickers Now Available
Get your bumper sticker and show your support for the Kipawa Legal Fund ! - send $5.00 in a Stamped, self addressed envelope to: Peter Karwacki Box 39111, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 7X0