Whitewater Ontario Prepares For 2015 Pan Am Games | Rapid Magazine | Rapid Media
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Whitewater Ontario Prepares For 2015 Pan Am Games Photo: Courtesy Whitewater Ontario

The volunteer-driven organization met this weekend to recap 2014 and plan for 2015

Whitewater Ontario (WO) is a volunteer-driven organization that works to develop and support Ontario’s paddling community. WO’s annual general meeting took place in Peterborough this weekend—this update outlines the organizations work in 2014 and plans for 2015, including preparation for the canoe slalom competition at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The past year has been busy and productive for Whitewater Ontario. Our priority has been preparation for next year’s Pan Am Games Canoe Slalom competition, which takes place July 18-19th at the Gull River.

Preparations have included the installation of a semi-permanent gate system at the Gull, the acquisition of an international level timing system, and the renovation of the Roger Parsons Centre at the Minden Wild Water preserve.

Whitewater Ontario also hosted two major canoe slalom events this summer in the span of two weeks.

The Minden Hills Open was the unofficial test event held at which provided an opportunity for our team of volunteers to become comfortable, capable, and confident with the new timing system. The event also familiarized our WO team with procedures and practices that are part of a major international canoe slalom event. The MHO was a very successful event as our volunteers worked collectively to provide the athletes with a great racing experience. Of particular note were the strong performances of some of our junior paddlers who navigated the challenging Gull river course with increasing skill and confidence. As part of the MHO, Senior National team athletes organized a Parallel Slalom event on the Gull River but on a flat water section near the center of town. This demonstration of slalom racing was supported by the Township and attracted local residents who watched the competitors race each other on a short 25 second course, helping to build awareness and excitement about slalom and the Pan Am Games.

Ontario also hosted the Canadian Whitewater Championships at the Madawaska Kanu Centre near Barry’s Bay. We had approximately 85 paddlers from numerous provinces and territories. Our championships are a celebration of whitewater paddling and our participants ranged from our youngest competitive racers to members of our National Team just returning from the World Cups in Europe. Race organizers had many reason to be proud as the timing system worked flawlessly and the race schedule stayed completely on time. Ontario athletes performed very well and won the Brian Creer Cup awarded to the province awarded the highest number of points based on results.

The new timing system was purchased through funds made available by Pan Am 2015. While owned by CKC, the system will be made available to Whitewater Ontario as needed and is expected to be used at the Pan Am Games next summer. As a legacy item, the timing system will be of great value to Whitewater Ontario and enhance the quality and professionalism of our races.

In a project that is funded by both the Trillium Foundation and Pan Am 2015, the Roger Parson Centre is undergoing a $340,000 renovation that will feature significant improvements to the facility. New washrooms, an upgraded kitchen as well as wheelchair access are part of the project which commenced in September 2014 and is expected to be completed early 2015.

Whitewater Ontario continues to be a strong advocate for river access and preservation. Whitewater Ontario’s advocacy work was recognized in the American Whitewater Magazine, both in print and online. This article highlighted the success of M.A.C.Kfest as well as the work that has been done to secure access to rivers through land sharing agreements. More recently, WO has been approached by Orillia Power Authority about possible generation at the Minden Wile Water Preserve.  The advocacy committee is overseeing the communication with Orillia Power Authority.

 Again this year WO supported the annual ‘King of Clubs” event where recreational club white water enthusiasts compete in a series of fun events to be crowned the “King of Clubs”.  This event draws boaters from all over Ontario to the Ottawa River for a weekend of fun.  Additionally, WO supported “Hell or High Water” in Petawawa Ontario.  This event highlights the outstanding Petawawa River by showcasing its rapids through both raft races and kayak races.  WO is proud to be able to support these recreational events for all skill-levels and looks forward to continuing to strengthen the recreational arm of the organization.

Overall, it has been an exciting year with lots to be proud of.  Going into 2015 will require all hands on deck in preparation for the Pan Am Games while still maintaining “business as usual”.  It will be a challenge but once complete will leave Ontario paddlers with a positive legacy for years to come.

 

Cortney Oliver was the president of Whitewater Ontario from 2013 to 2014 and is now acting as WO's director of communications. 

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