Boating ban on Ottawa River extended

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A ban on boating on the Ottawa River has been extended from Mattawa to Montreal.

Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau issued a new “interim order” Tuesday  identifying zones in which navigation is prohibited due to flooding.

Garneau said the changes are necessary to protect the safety of people and vessels, and to help first responders do their jobs in flooding conditions.

“In addition, the public is urged to continue to stay off flooded waterways in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick to ensure navigational safety, and prevent damage to infrastructure and the environment.”

“Due to the magnitude of this year’s flooding, and following consultations with local authorities and law enforcement, Minister Garneau has extended the areas covered by the navigation restrictions,” the announcement said.

“To ensure vessel movements do not pose a risk to the safety of individuals or cause damage to the environment, properties and infrastructure, the Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam and the Deux Montagnes Lake, and the Mattawa River between Hurdman Dam and confluence of Mattawa River and Ottawa River have been included in this new Interim Order Respecting Flooded Areas.

“In the listed areas, navigation by non-emergency vessels is strictly prohibited. This includes pleasure craft and human-powered craft, such as canoes or kayaks.”

Individuals who can only access their property by boat are exempted from the interim order and other restrictions for the purpose of going to and from their property.

“If citizens must use a waterway to access a property, they are urged to navigate at as slow a speed as possible.”

Violations of the boating ban are subject to fines of $250 to $5,000.

The order was issued after the river reached historic new highs over the weekend.

The Ottawa River Regulating Committee reported Monday that levels in the Pembroke reach of the river had subsided slightly to 113.64 metres above sea level, about 5 cm or two inches below their peak of 113.69 m on Saturday and Sunday.

The previous record was 113.67 m set in 1960.

As of 4 pm Wednesday, the river level was at 113.55 m.

The ORRC said river levels “should continue to decline slowly over the next few days.”

“Rates of decline will be dependent on the amount of precipitation received over the next few days.”