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Ottawa River gets heritage designation

Symbolic status doesn’t affect responses to large-scale sewage spills.

Metro News
August 21, 2017

The Ottawa River got a largely symbolic designation yesterday meant to encourage Canadians to treat the waterway with more respect.

The Quebec government officially gave the river a heritage designation, adding to the designation the federal and Ontario government gave the river last year.

The designation doesn’t change any rules on development or activity on the river, but is meant to inspire people to protect the river.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the designations are about changing attitudes.

“I think designations are critically important,” she said. “You need to understand the importance of, for example, the Ottawa River so you really want to protect it.”

Meredith Brown with Ottawa Riverkeeper said the designation is a move forward, but there is much to be done.

“It’s not a legally binding designation,” she said. “It has no legal teeth. It’s really about recognition and raising awareness about the importance of the river.”

But she agreed that the designation would advance the debate.

“I always say that before you get to commit and action you need to have awareness and understanding.”

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