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

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Details about the Ottawa Tailrace Project

Ottawa River Runners – Comments on City of Ottawa Staff Report - Fleet Street Tail Race Ref N°: ACS2007-CCS-PEC-0008

As the staff report identifies, the Ottawa River Runners kayak club (ORR) were responsible for the cleanup and restoration of the Pumphouse tailrace. ORR has actively used this channel for 15 years, until it was temporarily closed for bank stabilization in 2004. For the previous 15 years ORR had an access agreement with the NCC, which owns the adjoining parkway and bowl to the east, and has enjoyed a very positive and co-operative relationship with the City Pumphouse staff.
The principle concern of ORR is that this facility has been temporarily closed since an engineers report identified serious concerns with bank stability. At that time (May 2004) the then Mayor instructed city staff to work with ORR to restore use of this site as soon as possible. Ongoing construction in the upsteam aqueduct created some unanticipated delays. However, aqueduct construction is now complete as is the major restoration to significantly grade the banks and eliminate formerly dangerous unprotected cliffs along the tailrace channel. The final element of this bank stabilization involves landscaping to replace lost vegetation and pathways and is anticipated that this will be completed this spring.
The current issue before committee is how to manage risks and liability related to this combined industrial and recreational asset. The city position is that the tailrace is primarily an outflow from an industrial facility (the pumping station). The report identifies the tailrace channel as one of fast flowing water and an extreme whitewater site. The staff report asserts that ORR has installed obstacles to increase the speed of water flow to replicates “the world’s wildest rivers”. Staff has suggested that there are serious risks and potential liability and relate these to removal of vegetation, together with fast water flow. It is important to clarify that the staff report grossly overstates the nature of this waterway and the associated risk. This channel would be considered a class II rapid and is far from replicating the world’s wildest rivers (class V and VI). It is designed to create obstacles and eddies replicating a natural river. As such, it is in fact as safe or safer that hundreds of kilometers of the Ottawa and Rideau river shorelines that exist within the City (and remain unfenced). The clean eddies that have been created provide a safe haven for a swimmer that has capsized his/her kayak. Such eddies are far safer than an unobstructed shoreline, or the most dangerous shorelines which involve fallen trees and branches which act as a trap and can cause drowning.
The report also fails to note that the city has in fact made the site much safer by regrading the shoreline into gentle slopes (with the exception of the steep rock cliffs of the west side). Augmenting this grading with a low (1.2m fence) and appropriate signage would leave the newly restored site far safer than the previous conditions (steep cliffs and unfenced pathways).
The staff report recommends referral to the Local Architectural Conservation committee for consideration as a heritage site. This seems inconsistent with the staff position that this is an industrial site and should be surrounded by a high industrial fence. ORR has no objection to this suggestion but is concerned that this may cause further delays. Staff has had three years to consult with this committee, but have not taken the opportunity to do so. Further delays in reopening the site to its established use will seriously impact both the local and national canoe and kayak community – a sport that is itself a key element of Canada’s heritage.
The ORR has no objection to a fence. Our concerns emanate from a city position that sought to completely restrict public access and required ORR to enter into an access agreement to allow exclusive access to club members. ORR has maintained that such a restriction is unnecessary and unduly restricts public access.
ORR is entirely in agreement with the installation of fencing and appropriate signage, but objects to the City staff proposal to designate this as a dangerous industrial site with a high fence and locked gates. Fifteen years of history, active public and club use and an insurance policy with not a single claim throughout this fifteen-year period is a testament to the true level of risk that exists on this site. The investment of more than $4 million to grade and stabilize the banks and the installation of a 1.2m safety fence creates a significantly lower level of risk than the pre-existing conditions.
ORR youth programs as well as those of the national slalom team have been seriously impacted by the “temporary closure” that has left the facility unusable for 3 years. ORR strongly urges Council to instruct staff to accept the recommendations of ORR, the NCC and the local residents association to install a 1.2 m safety fence or railing along the graded parts of the shoreline. Higher safety fencing may be appropriate along the portion of the western shore where steep cliffs remain and above the down stream viaduct to the Ottawa River.
ORR also requests that Council instruct staff to include the necessary installation of concrete pedestals to support slalom gate wires as part of the landscaping plan so these installations are aesthetically integrated in the plan (something that engineering staff previously agreed to undertake by was rejected by recreation and risk management staff).
Further ORR requests that Council direct staff to complete the final phase of restoration (landscaping and fencing) to enable paddling to resume in the tailrace as soon as possible now that ice and winter conditions have passed.

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