6.1 Overview:

This section deals with Parks Canada’s involvement in the development of municipal shore-land policies, and review of land use and development activities along the Canal. Since the 1950’s many sections of shore-land have evolved from natural and agricultural to intensive cottage and suburban development. The net effect of waterfront development has been a dramatic change in the character of the cultural and natural environment and its scenic beauty, and a reduction in the quality and diversity of the riparian ecosystem.

Parks Canada’s primary interest in land uses adjacent to the Canal and Canal lands (the designated place) is the retention and enhancement of the natural, cultural and scenic values (heritage character) of the Canal waterfront lands. Therefore, the potential impact of the construction of in-water and shoreline works, buildings and associated boating activities on the cultural and natural environment of the Canal and public safety of Canal users is of primary concern. Parks Canada encourages municipalities and other agencies to contribute to the protection of the heritage character of the Canal through supportive municipal planning policies. Parks Canada has the legal mandate under the Ontario Planning Act as both a reviewing agency and adjacent landowner to provide input into the development of all municipal plans and planning decisions and subsequent private land-use development activities.

The contrast between natural and modified waterfront lands is clearly evident
The contrast between natural and modified waterfront lands is clearly evident, John Simser

6.2. Waterfront Land Use and Development Challenges:

  • Given the number of planning and development applications and limited staff and resources, Parks Canada has a limited capability to participate in the review and comment on municipal plans and selected waterfront land development activities. As well, resource constraints do not allow for full follow- up or monitoring of development to ensure that comments and agreements have been addressed and applied.
  • Some municipal official plans do not yet fully recognize and protect the Canal’s heritage values as there are no common waterfront land management objectives among Canal corridor municipalities.
  • Municipalities and landowners need to be made aware of Parks Canada’s interests in waterfront development and its role in the review of municipal planning policies, official plan and zoning bylaw amendments and shore-land development proposals.
  • There are insufficient resources to educate or consult with landowners, developers and municipalities on their role in protecting the heritage values of the Canal and the use of the design guidelines for waterfront development.
  • While there is general acceptance of the need to protect natural values, there is less understanding of the scenic and cultural values of the Canal and the need to protect them as well.
  • There is a need to identify waterfront lands of historic, scenic and natural value and to protect them through municipal official plan designation and private land stewardship.
Entrance to Morton Bay, South of Jones Falls Lockstation
Entrance to Morton Bay, South of Jones Falls Lockstation, Manuel Stevens, Parks Canada

New development should be carefully planned to protect the scenic qualities of areas like Morton Bay.

6.3  Strategic Goals:

To encourage respect for the natural, cultural and scenic values of the Canal’s waterfront lands.
To encourage Canal corridor municipalities to adopt planning policies which protect the heritage character of the waterfront and safe and enjoyable use of the Canal.

6.3.1 Key Actions by Parks Canada:
  • In its review of land use policies, applications for waterfront development and consultations with development proponents, Parks Canada will be guided by the Policies for In-water and Shoreline Works, the Waterfront Planning and Design Guidelines, the Commemorative Integrity Statement, the Historic Canals Regulations, the Canada Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Ontario Planning Act, and federal and provincial wetlands policies.
  • Parks Canada will promote the guiding principles in section 3.2 of this plan among landowners, municipalities, developers and other stakeholders as a means of encouraging sustainable development and use.
  • Parks Canada will actively participate in the municipal planning process to encourage municipalities to adopt policies and make land use decisions which embody the above principles and protect the heritage character and recreational uses of the Canal.
  • Where municipal planning policies and waterfront development proposals have a potential detrimental impact on the aquatic ecosystem, navigation and Canal lands, and the heritage character of the Canal setting, Parks Canada will use the appeal process in the Ontario Planning Act to protect its interests if other means of influencing the decisions are not successful.
Rideau Canal between Manotick and Kars
Rideau Canal between Manotick and Kars, Simon Lunn

Intensive shoreline development as occurred during the past 30 years should not occur in the future.
6.3.2 Direction for Parks Canada Involvement in Waterfront Planning and Development:
  • The Rideau Canal Management Plan will serve as the statement of management direction for Parks Canada with regard to its involvement in the development of municipal land use policies and waterfront land use and development matters.
  • Parks Canada will encourage municipalities to adopt common policies in their official plans to protect the cultural, scenic and natural heritage values of the Canal corridor.
  • Parks Canada will encourage municipalities to develop municipal official plans that: 
  • Recognize the national historic significance of the Rideau Canal, its natural and recreational value, its tourism contribution, and its status as a Canadian Heritage River and that make a commitment to preserve the values of the Canal through appropriate official plan policies and zoning bylaws.
  • Encourage back shore development to protect open space and the natural appearance of the shore-land through appropriate policies.
  • Recognize Parks Canada’s jurisdiction over all activities on and over the bed of the Canal, especially the construction of in-water and shoreline works.
  • Contain policies for the establishment of marinas, and the need to address potential environmental, boating capacity and aesthetic impacts.
  • Contain policies to ensure that the development of the waterfront for residential use will not impact adversely on water quality, boating safety, boating capacity, and the natural and scenic character of the Canal shore-land.
  • Protect the historic, recreational and scenic character of lockstations and their environs.
  • Contain land subdivision policies which protect shore-land vegetation, fish and wildlife habitats, wetlands and other environmentally sensitive sites.
  • Contain policies to protect historic buildings, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites along the Canal.
  • Contain development control policies as provided for by the Planning Act to address the environmental impact of shore-land development.
  • Parks Canada will review subdivision and severance applications and requests for minor variances to determine their potential impact on the Canal’s historic and natural features, scenic value and boating activities.
  • Parks Canada will allow in-water and shoreline works intended for private use where there are no boating conflicts, where there is sufficient capacity to accommodate additional boating activities, and where environmental impact is negligible or can be mitigated. The potential impact on the scenic character of the Canal will also be considered.
  • Parks Canada will seek to ensure that any new transmission line, pipeline and bridge crossings are located, designed and constructed to have the least impact on the natural, historic and scenic values of the Canal. Proponents must show a clear requirement for such a crossing.
Boathouse, Newboro Lake
Boathouse, Newboro Lake, Jim Reynolds
This modest boathouse is an excellent example of an in-water and shoreline work which has negligible impact on the aquatic environment and scenic character of the canal.
6.3.3  Key Actions in Co-operation with Others:
  • Parks Canada will co-operate with others to identify waterfront lands of outstanding natural, historic and scenic value and encourage their protection through private land stewardship, the Rideau Waterway Land Trust and appropriate municipal designation in official plans.
  • Through the Rideau Waterfront Development Review Team, and other review mechanisms, Parks Canada will provide advice for development along the Canal corridor which respects the guiding principles in this plan.
  • Parks Canada will support the establishment of a network of municipal planners and government agencies as a forum to discuss issues and exchange information on Canal corridor municipal planning matters.
  • Parks Canada will work with municipalities and stakeholders to encourage shore-land property owners to follow the environmental design guidelines in publications such as “On the Living Edge”, and other publications dealing with environmentally sensitive development.
New waterfront development near Merrickville with minimal impact on the environment
New waterfront development near Merrickville with minimal impact on the environment, John Simser
New waterfront development near Merrickville
New waterfront development near Merrickville, Manuel Stevens, Parks Canada

Some property owners are protecting the natural and scenic character of the canal through environmentally sensitive deveolopment.
Edmonds Lockstation

This photo illustrates how the overflow dam creates a slackwater pool upstream, Simon Lunn

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