AND A PLAN THAT DELIVERS THE VISION
The Trent Severn Waterway and the entire Watershed needs your support. The Federal Budget on March 28, 2012 has cut funding to a number of federal government departments including Parks Canada which has responsibilities for the canal systems in Canada including the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW). The Trent Severn Watershed runs from Georgian Bay to Trenton and north to Haliburton.
On May 3, 2012 Parks Canada sent a letter to all Stakeholders which addressed the cutbacks. Here is what we know, first on April 11th
“Parks Canada identified five areas for budget reduction, one of which is recreational boating services at canals. Parks Canada announced that it would align the length of its season, hours of operation, and personal service at locks on canals to focus investments on the periods of highest requirements. Parks Canada has also announced that it would be restructuring the existing field units that contain canals to creating new management units that are 100% dedicated to canals. Developing this new canal structure will take time.”
Second, with reduced hours of operations and reductions in staff there are numerous potential impacts on the entire Trent Severn Watershed. The potential impacts could include:
• Reduced economic activity, which will impact resorts and businesses that rely on tourism and seasonal residents.
• Water management, with fewer staff water management could be effected which covers a variety of issues from water levels to water quality. And these areas will impact on wildlife, increase risks of flooding and other related property damage.
• Should the above two issues occur, property values could be impacted.
• With reductions in economic activity come fewer jobs in the region and not just jobs directly connected to the activities of the TSW.
In addition none of what has been announced addresses the need for infrastructure renewal as outlined in the Panel Report of 2008 “It’s all about the Water”, which concluded that $250 million plus was needed to restore the infrastructure. Without this investment, safety, water management and the environment in the watershed are at risk.
So what can you do?
The four MPs that represent the TSW watershed will meet at the end of the summer with the Minister of the Environment, who has responsibility for Parks Canada. At that meeting the four MPs will present a plan to the Minister which we hope will be an alternative to the proposed cuts to staff and hours of operation on the TSW planned for the Summer of 2013.
The Minister needs to take the following actions:
1. Announce that the 2013 TSW operations will be the same as in 2012.
2. Stop all staff reductions and related activity until a plan that will enhance the TSW watershed is developed.
3. Establish a Steering Group made up of a cross-section of TSW stakeholders who will oversee four working groups that will develop a Vision and Plan for the future of the TSW.
The Steering Group and the Working Group
First develop a vision for the TSW watershed. The vision should include a discussion on the future governance of the watershed. How do we make the watershed a four season destination for tourists and residents? What can be done to increase economic activity? What Revenue Opportunities can be developed in order to ensure the long term financial viability of the TSW watershed when combined with the Federal Government’s ongoing financial support? What can be done to improve the Environment, water quality and water flow? i.e. We need effective Water Management.
Based on the vision, four working groups of TSW stakeholders should be formed to develop opportunities and solutions:
1. How do we effectively market the TSW watershed as a four seasons destination?
2. How do we improve Water Management (we need infrastructure renewal)?
3. What are the Revenue Opportunities that will give TSW watershed a sustainable financial future?
4. What is needed, re; the operations of the TSW watershed, to achieve the three initiatives discussed above?
The Steering Group and Working Groups would develop the Vision and Plan by the end of calendar 2012.
The TSW watershed is an asset that needs to be developed in the best interests of all residents, tourists and the Canadian public. The TSW watershed can be an economic driver with benefits to all, and to the environment.
We urge the four MPs and the Minister to act before it is too late.
We ask that you email the Prime Minister and other MPs about your concern (email addresses are provided below).
Our commitment to you is that we will keep you informed through this website: www.voicesforthetsw.ca So come back for updates.
Your support is appreciated by your neighbours, friends and family both today and in the future.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Minister of Environment,
responsible for Parks Canada
Dean Del Mastro, MP
Barry Devolin, MP