July 2, 2018

Mayor Charlebois and Councilors of the Town of Hawkesbury

Reference: Access to the river on Canada Day and other comments.

July 1st is a celebration in Canada for all Canadian citizens, including many foreign visitors. The Town of Hawkesbury and the Recreation Committee regularly organize various activities at Confederation Park. According to many, these activities are really appreciated by the local residents as well as all the tourists who visit us during this holiday period.

With the heat wave over the past weekend, we owners of small pleasure boats wanted to go out enjoy the beauties of the Ottawa River, right here in Hawkesbury. Just to mention as well, in all local papers last week was the promotion of the Festival of the River. A beautiful day was forecasted, good times to share with family and friends were on the menu.

But no, to my surprise, the Philippe Street Pier was inaccessible to all, local people or visitors. And yes, the whole parking lot was blocked, with no indication offering an alternative to access to the river; it was as if the city directors did not care about the end users. This was a great decision, to block access to the river in a most opportune time. It’s totally incomprehensible, especially during the Canada Day weekend. I can understand closing the access for a set period, perhaps in the evening, only if a corner of the park was being used for the installation of the fireworks. A simple sign informing the closing time would suffice. An all-day closure?

So what to do before my frustration takes over me. I decided to go to the Le Chenail landing pier. Exactly the same scenario as on Philippe’s street. Access prohibited???? I even heard there was a pre-arranged activity with various artists at Le Chenail. They too were denied access. Madame Mayor Charlebois, why is there so much security at Le Chenail. Is it purposely set up to intimidate the directors of the Cultural Centre Le Chenail, prohibiting them from achieving success?

So now, I’m angry. Now I have to travel to the marina of L’Orignal, 12 kilometers away to put my boat in the water. Not very practical, especially since I already paid $100 to the city of Hawkesbury to get a non-resident parking permit, to get access to the river right here near my home. For your information, I reside just one street outside the perimeter of Hawkesbury.

I wonder what tourists think of Hawkesbury, those who took the time to come and visit us with their boat and who were denied access to the river on Canada Day? I am sure they were as frustrated as I was, to say the least. The tourist office was also closed on a national holiday. Therefore, it was impossible to get relevant information about the activities of the day.

The city’s website indicated that it would prohibit any boats to moor at the municipal wharf, west of Confederation Park. A beautiful docking station, but access is denied. Why?
What a missed opportunity to allow boats to dock so all could watch and enjoy the beautiful magic of the fireworks in the evening? It’s incredible! What kind of message do you and the town council try to convey? Stay home, we are not interested in seeing you, nor having you spend any tourist money in our local businesses. Such decisions do absolutely nothing to show that Hawkesbury is an open and welcoming city. Oh no!

In addition, to sort of put the cherry on top of the Sunday, driving in over the bridge from Quebec, what a beautiful reception to have an OPP officer greeting you with a radar in hand, pointing to all vehicles entering Hawkesbury. What a nice welcome message for your city, Madame Mayor?

In my view, this shows an exaggerated protection of the citizen on this beautiful day of celebration, the so-called Canada Day, right at high noon? May I suggest using the OPP officers’ time to help senior people cross John Street and provide valuable information? Their generosity would be so much more noticeable than that of giving contraventions. Is it not the first motto of a policeman: To Serve and Protect?

So why are you allowing this to happen, Madame Mayor? I can understand perhaps that you were not aware of all the decisions made by certain directors of departments? However, if that were the case, is it not a blatant demonstration of a great lack of communication within your team and sub-departments?

And lastly, the Hawkesbury Recreation page on the city website is very nice but is currently promoting activities for Winter 2018. Ouch!!! Please remind the director of the department, Ms Nicole Trudeau that we are in Summer 2018. As a result, the community is left with absolutely no advertisement promoting this summer’s activities. An oversight you may say, maybe, but three months late. Unacceptable, totally unacceptable especially in a world that depends so much on information published on social media. This conveys very bad publicity for the city of Hawkesbury, demonstrates a certain non-professionalism of some directors and greatly harms its image.

The poor decisions, or lack of, especially closing all access to the river for boat enthusiasts, made at different organizational levels for Canada Day really do nothing to put Hawkesbury on the map. I should rather say it does, but for all the wrong reasons.

Sorry Mayor Charlebois, you and your entire team, have missed the boat this year.
Access denied!!!



René Baril


Township of Champlain

Rene Baril

Editor’s Note:

The Review contacted Nicole Trudeau, Director of Tourism & Recreation for Hawkesbury. She repliced that due to the location of Confederation Park, both boat launches were closed for security reasons.

The Chenail launch was closed Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1 due to the Ottawa River Festival (FRO) and Canada Day respectively. Trudeau writes: “With a few hundred participants for the FRO and a few thousand for Canada Day, we can’t risk anyone’s safety by allowing boat trailers going in and out of the parking lot while participants are walking on site, and we also can’t risk additional boats being launched when we have water activities going on (wakesurf and seadoo demos) which take place on the docks directly adjacent to the launch.

The Philippe Street launch was closed on Sunday, July 1 only (the sign said June 30 and July 1 but the gate was open on June 30). We launch the fireworks from Cyr-de-Lasalle Park, which is right next to the boat launch. The fire code, that regulates fireworks requires a certain perimeter be vacated of all people and vehicles for safety reasons.  I know some were disappointed that they could not launch their boats, and if we can find a solution for the future we will, but safety always comes first.”