Parks Canada began work on repairs to the Rideau Canal walls between Bank Street and Pig Island in November 2016. Repairs have progressed well and concrete refacing of the walls inside the canal is now complete. The next phase of work will be on the top portion of the wall, known as the coping, before shifting to address the trail, railings, and light standards in May. This phase of the project to repair the Rideau Canal walls in downtown Ottawa is expected to be complete in spring 2017.
In January 2017, Parks Canada provided notice that contaminants had been identified in the canal bed sediment in the area of the construction site. A contract to conduct additional testing in the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa, from Hartwells Locks to the Ottawa Locks, has now been finalized. The tests will seek to identify the scope and extent of contaminants within the Rideau Canal, begin the process of risk assessment, and inform the appropriate environmental protection measures for any future work that might disturb the sediment within the canal. These tests are expected to take place in late April when the ice has cleared from the canal. Once the testing is complete, Parks Canada will take all necessary steps to update the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory.
The Ottawa stretch of the Rideau Canal has a rich history of commercial and industrial uses and is also in the middle of a heavily populated urban area. As a result of this legacy, precautions are always taken when conducting repairs because of the potential presence of contaminates associated with the canal's past use and its location. Contaminated sediment presents a very low risk to the public as this type of contamination is generally only a concern if there is dermal contact or ingestion. Additionally, Parks Canada is taking a precautionary approach to ensure that the repairs are conducted in the most responsible manner.