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Ottawa South MP asked to invoke the Navigation Protection Act in defence of the Rideau River

The work site near the Rideau River.

There are concerns that a proposed public-private partnership (P3) mega-playstructure could pollute the Rideau River, a federally protected waterway.

The City of Ottawa is supporting the construction of a 4,600-square metre Canada-shaped mega-playstructure in Mooney’s Bay Park, which is situated in Ottawa South. The National Capital Commission (NCC), which is the responsibility of the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, owns the land. The City convinced the NCC to allow this project to proceed. The City is also providing $1 million of public money for this project. Sinking Ship Entertainment, a Toronto-based entertainment company, brought this proposal to the City. Media reports indicate the City’s Ethics Commissioner is now investigating the company for not registering as a lobbyist beforehand as is required.

Save Mooney’s Bay, a local group of residents opposed to this project, has stated, “This space is also a flood plain right next to the Rideau Canal Waterway, a World Heritage site. There was no environmental assessment [for the] removal of trees and construction of permanent structures close to the edge of our beloved and historic waterway.”

Local residents have also raised concerns about drainage issues given the size of the playstructure area, its proximity to the drainage area around Terry Fox Hill (which reportedly was constructed from waste fill), the cutting down of 16 mature trees from that space (given their role in absorbing water from the soil), and the portable toilets that would be placed nearby (given the lack of adequate washroom facilities in the park).

The Rideau River is a federally protected waterway under the Navigation Protection Act (formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act).

Ottawa South MP David McGuinty, whose riding includes Mooney’s Bay Park, has expressed his opposition to the playstructure and has been asked to pursue action against it using this federal water protection law. The Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly has also been asked if the Navigation Protection Act was considered by the National Capital Commission in their review of the appropriateness of this project. And River Ward city councillor Riley Brockington, whose constituency also includes Mooney’s Bay Park, has asked City Parks and Recreation staff to investigate if the Act was considered in their review of this proposal.

Local residents are also pursuing a court injunction to stop work at the Mooney’s Bay site to allow time for due process, public consultation and for questions about environmental concerns to be addressed. The Council of Canadians has made a modest contribution to that legal fund out of concern for the Rideau River.

In our Energy & Climate Justice campaign, we have also been highlighting that the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East tar sands pipeline would cross the Rideau River upstream of Mooney’s Bay Park and downtown Ottawa.

The Energy East pipeline would cross the Rideau River just south of Ottawa near Kemptville in the Baxter Conservation Area. The river is an important inflow to the Rideau Canal. The canal flows to the Ottawa River at the Rideau Falls, behind the Prime Minister’s residence. The Rideau Falls are approximately 40 kilometres away from the pipeline crossing. A spill, like the 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River that travelled 56 kilometres, would leave a toxic and costly legacy in the Rideau Canal. For more on that issue, please click here.

To find out more about the Save Mooney’s Bay campaign, please see their Facebook page here.