New Ottawa Valley River Access Fund

Mike McKay of Five2Nine Productions and Whitewater Ontario partner to create the Ottawa Valley River Access Fund 

The Ottawa is a gem of a river blessing both local and international paddlers with a unique and friendly paddling experience. Not only do paddlers get to enjoy warm summer water and world-class playspots at most levels, but they get to enjoy the ease of logistics given the easy, free and clean access points provided by the local rafting companies. 

OWL/ Madwaska Kanu Centre (MKC) provides paddler access, parking and outhouses at the McCoy put-in as well as at the Lorne, while Wilderness Tours provides access and parking at the take-out. There are costs both in terms of staffing and maintenance to keep these spots open, especially when access is given for the spring and fall when the roads are particularly vulnerable to vehicular traffic. 

Having travelled extensively as a paddler, Mike McKay – Adventure Filmmaker and owner of Five2Nine Productions – understands the value of easy river access and respect for those who provides it. As such, he developed the idea to dedicate the funds raised at the annual Ottawa Film Festival that he organizes to ensuring continued free access to the Ottawa and other Ottawa Valley rivers. 

As a result, Five2Nine will donate the proceeds from the annual Ottawa Film Festival fundraising to the Whitewater Ontario Advocacy Committee to create the “Ottawa Valley River Access Fund”. In 2013, the Film Festival raised $1,730, which was donated and committed to the Access Fund. WO brings transparency and expertise to managing such an initiative given their experience managing the Minden Whitewater Preserve, as well as through advocacy, access and preservation efforts throughout the province. In fact, the WO Advocacy Committee provided OWL with support to establish outhouses at the Lorne access point, thereby helping keep the area clean for the public. 

Mike McKay says “My main goal behind this fund is to unite the community and find a way to make everyone proud to be supporting our great local rivers.” While the Ottawa is the most famous, the valley has a wealth of other spectacular rivers, including multiple sections on the Petawawa. The Advocacy committee is approached on a regular basis on access and preservation issues and this fund will help ensure the ability to act quickly. 

Laura Duncan, from the Whitewater Ontario River Advocacy Committee adds “The Ottawa River is a jewel of Ontario and Canada and many paddlers don’t realize the access that is provided and maintained by rafting companies that operate on the Ottawa. Building this fund will show appreciation as well as increase paddler awareness of the access privileges we enjoy.” 

About Mike McKay and Five2Nine Productions:

Mike McKay is an Ottawa-based adventure filmmaker, focused on WebTV. Previous series include CURRENTS, using whitewater as a medium to bring attention to river advocacy issues; Rescue for River Runners, a swiftwater rescue instructional series, and Made In Canada, which profiled Canadian Rivers through the eyes of the local paddlers who know them best. He is currently working on an upcoming series called #chaostheory. The Ottawa Film Festival that he organizes and hosts is going on its 6th year. Mike proudly paddles for NRS, Werner Paddles, Goal Zero and Jackson Kayaks. 

About Whitewater Ontario:

Whitewater Ontario is a volunteer-driven organization uniting, supporting, and sustaining the inclusive development of the whitewater paddling community and resources in Ontario. As the provincial organization representing whitewater paddlers, WO’s Advocacy Committee works hard to maintain river access by: 

  • providing support for local groups fighting to preserve their rivers for paddling 
  • publicizing information about access and conservation issues on its website 



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