A Rideau Canal vaporetto?

Venice has a fleet of vaporettos – boat buses that ply the waters of their beautiful canals. Why not a vaporettto service on the lovely Rideau Canal? PHOTO: COURTESY OF LUCIA DOLCETTI

By Corinne Packer 

Back in 2019, when travel was not rife  with the risk of contracting a highly  and deadly infectious virus, I enjoyed  a wonderful three days touring Venice.  I used the vaporettos – boat buses running  up and down Venice’s stunning  network of canals –to get to my destinations.  I’ve wondered ever since why  Ottawa has never thought to create its  own Grand Canal vaporetto to allow  residents and visitors to get to key areas  of the city that stretch along the amazing  Rideau Canal, a significant jewel in  our city’s crown.

Reading the November issue of the  Glebe Report, I found at least four  articles that made the case for giving  serious thought to the idea of a Rideau  Canal vaporetto. The cover story  bore the bad news of just how badly  Lansdowne is struggling financially. On  page 6, we read that a greater vision is  needed for Aberdeen Square. On page  13, Pat Goyeche reminded us of the  wealth of programs seniors can access  at Abbotsford House. A Lansdowne  vaporetto stop would float in thousands  of fans to the Ottawa Fury and  Redblacks games. Music festival lovers  would glide in for Escapade in June  and CityFolk and its smaller Marvest  music venues along Bank Street in  Venice has a fleet of vaporettos – boat buses that ply the waters of their beautiful  canals. Why not a vaporettto service on the lovely Rideau Canal?  PHOTO: COURTESY OF LUCIA DOLCETTI  September. There’d be no fuss to find  parking to catch a meal at one of the  great restaurants in the Glebe or at  Lansdowne before these games and  concerts. Teens could cruise in and  meet up at the Cineplex. And what an  environmentally friendly way to shop  for fresh, local produce at the Ottawa  Farmer’s Market in front of the historic  Aberdeen Pavilion.

On page 17, the piece on the Booth  Street complex also got me thinking.  A Dow’s Lake vaporetto stop at the  bottom of Preston Street would allow  passengers to access this hopefully  vibrant site with heritage buildings  when it gets developed. And who  wouldn’t want to see the tulip beds  downtown, jump on the vaporetto  to view the tulips blooming all along  the canal and then finish off at Dow’s  Lake to see the flowers and attractions  there during the Tulip Festival in May?  Passengers getting off at this  stop could also take in Little  Italy’s restaurants, cafés  and pubs and revel in  the Taste of Little Italy  festival in June.

Beyond these  ideas gleaned from  the November issue,  there would be so  many more vaporetto  stops to consider. Did you  ever realize that all three of  the capital’s universities are situated  along the canal? Not only do  students move between campuses for  shared courses, these campuses also  host many public concerts, plays and  lectures. Imagine a Corktown Bridge  vaporetto stop to catch the Ottawa  Fringe Festival at the University of  Ottawa or to drop off your kids at the  university’s summer camps. Get off  at the Hazel Street vaporetto stop to  attend an early summer concert by  one of Ottawa’s many talented community  choirs at Saint Paul University  or to pick up some fresh flowers at the  Main Street Farmer’s Market. Take in  a Ravens football or basketball game  in August or September by getting off  at the Bronson Bridge vaporetto stop.

In June, the Laurier Bridge vaporetto  stop would be a gateway to not one  but two great festivals – the TD Ottawa  Jazz Festival and the Ottawa Franco-  Ontarian Festival. This stop would also  provide quick access to the National  Arts Centre, with its world-class array  of concerts and theatre and to some  retail therapy at the Rideau Centre and  the downtown shops nearby.

A vaporetto would be a huge tourist  attraction for Ottawa. Many visitors  would jump at the chance to view the  city by day or night from the vantage  point of our beautiful canal. As  a Glebe resident, I would  jump at every opportunity  to use the vaporetto  to take in the view and  not stress over limited  and expensive  parking. Our city has  committed itself to  relieving congestion  in communities such as  the Glebe and to providing  environmentally forwardthinking  ways to get around by  investing in car-free transportation,  whether it be the LRT or more cycling  lanes. Why not add a vaporetto to the  mix? Can we give this idea of a Rideau  Canal vaporetto some thought?

Corinne Packer is a proud Glebe  and Ottawa resident and a travel  enthusiast.

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