Ottawa Rowing Club under water
Melissa McKenzie is concerned about the launch of Canada’s oldest rowing club. Founded in 1867, Ottawa Rowing Club’s season is in doubt amid disastrous flooding along the Ottawa River. Flood waters continue to rise with more rainfall in the forecast.
“We can’t access the buildings, we can't run our programs. We can't put our docks in,” said McKenzie who has served as Ottawa Rowing Club’s executive director for three years. “We love the river, it really is our playground; it's our happy place, but we're at its mercy and right now it's pretty crippling.”
The club’s boathouses, surrounded by metre-and-a-half high water, face the threat of more damage to property which could total a million dollars.
What used to be the parking at the club is now flooded, signs overturned, floating docks beside them. Trailers were moved, much of the equipment including the 90 boats inside the buildings were raised to mitigate flood damage.
“I didn’t expect it to be in the boathouse yet,” said Paul Hawksworth, Ottawa Rowing Club Technical Director. “We probably have another couple feet before that's an issue.”
With water levels rising by the hour, club officials said getting closer to the boats, without letting water into the structures, is impossible.
“If the water gets too high, our boats, particularly the ones on the lower rack start to float and they float up into the racks above. In which case, they'll break,” said Hawksworth.
The club scheduled to open on Saturday. it’s unclear when Ottawa Rowing Club will be ready for the season; it could take weeks with the club setting up a donations page on its website.
“We don’t know when we will start or how long our crews will be off the water,” said McKenzie.