Beginning of end for Trent-Severn
For the past three seasons I worked as a lock operator for the Trent Severn Waterway. I have never worked with such a dedicated group. I have witnessed all my co-workers go above and beyond to help our boaters. From boosting batteries, picking up gas or ice or groceries for them, calling mechanics, booking vet appointments for sick pets on boats, referring restaurants or hairdressers, calling ambulances and the list goes on forever.
The Trent Severn Waterway is home to many of our country’s species at risk. It is part of the American Great Loop and is visited by people from all over the world. The grounds of the locks are kept beautiful by staff and are used daily by hundreds of visitors. We are so lucky to have it as part of our heritage.
It is important that Canadians understand what is really going on with our historic waterway. The demise has been planned and in the works for a number of years. They have not hired a permanent employee for several years and a good portion of the waterway has been running with term employees. Initially the public was lead to believe the waterway will continue as usual this year with the season length unchanged. However, they let the cat out of the bag when they proposed the 30% cut in operational hours. The locks will be understaffed and specific lengths of it will be run by a flying crew. This means staff will lock the boats through and drive to meet the boats at the next lock. I feel sorry for the boat that arrives at the lock just after the crew has left and has to wait for them to return and for the person who needs to use the bathroom only to find it locked.
Last week several job postings were sent to term employees. The jobs were .25, which meant they would work enough hours to be paid for 1/4 of the year. This compares to the .75 normally worked by canal staff. Why will the government only commit to such a short time period? What else do they have in store for our beautiful waterway?
Why did I title this letter the beginning of the end? Stage one: Deceive the public by keeping the season the same length, however decrease the hours by 30%. Stage two: Hire new staff at .25 instead of the normal .75. What does that tell you about the future? It could be a number of things. The season could be cut shorter in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) and/or cut the hours further. Speak up for what is yours Canadians! Write your local MP. It is not too late to save our waterway from the cuts the federal government is threatening to make.
Box 14, Buckhorn.