Be a local River Keeper,Steve Desroches is a former City Councillor and Deputy Mayor.

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Be a local river keeper,Steve Desroches is a former City Councillor and Deputy Mayor.

This terrible pandemic has changed the way we work and play. With international
borders closed more people are choosing staycations for their leisure pursuits. These
local holidays are essentially adventures and activities close to home that can be done
while respecting social distancing requirements. Fortunately, Ottawa has a long list of
attractions and tourism officials are doing their best to promote what our region has to
offer. Ontario tourism minister Lisa MacLeod has been tremendously busy showcasing
our province’s best features. Ottawa’s local tourism promotion agency has developed
an impressive passport campaign to promote local restaurants, hotels and sights under
the leadership of CEO Michael Crockatt. Mother Nature also has a great deal to offer.
With the abundance of lakes and rivers in the area it should be no surprise that kayaks
and paddleboards are hot commodities. Sales of the watercraft are strong and rentals
through the share-economy are very popular. The parking lot of my local conservation
area is packed with people looking to enjoy the beautiful and picturesque Rideau River.
It is great to see the colorful watercraft splashing along our water courses. Open and
public sites along the shores of rivers mean that we can all enjoy the water free of
charge. That’s why as a City Councillor I advocated for public water access when
developments were planned on the shorefront of the Rideau River. Much work is
needed to keep our water systems clean and green.

During my time on City Council, ittook strong leadership and commitment to chart a plan to stop downtown sewers from spilling into in the Ottawa River. The same determination is needed by all those whoswim, drink and fish. We all have a role to help preserve and protect our river systems.It is distressing to see litter in our parks and water courses. There is too much junkentering our water and canal system. We can all do our part and remind our kids to putwaste in its place. Closer to home you can make sure that the catch basins on yourstreet are clear of debris and garbage. Many people have no idea that these curbsidedrains help channel rain and melted snow to our river and stream systems. My localcatch basins have yellow fish painted beside them to remind residents that the drains
have a strong connection to our local ecology. The paint job is not graffiti. Rather it is a
powerful message decorated by youth participating in the national yellow fish road
program by Trout Unlimited Canada.

Our local conservation authorities are responsiblefor promoting and enforcing regulations that protect the Rideau, Mississippi and SouthNation rivers that flow into the Ottawa River. They are the good people behind thescenes. You can thank these passionate ecologists and scientists for the quality of ourwater system and the health of our natural environment. Social media is bursting withpretty river photos. But words of appreciation and selfies are not enough to help theseriver keepers acquire and protect for posterity ecological properties and wetlands or tohelp plant much needed trees in the river valleys. If you do get a chance to kayak orpaddle board on our river systems please consider making a financial gratuity. TheOttawa Riverkeeper as well as the conservation authorities for the Rideau, Mississippi

and South Nation rivers will gratefully accept your donations. Landowners within the
river valleys may also be eligible for tax incentives for donations of land under
government programs. If you love our waters then please put your money where you
fish, swim and paddle.
Steve Desroches is a former City Councillor and Deputy Mayor. You can follow him on
Twitter @SteveDesroches

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