Several spots along the Grand Canal may soon be used for water sports, according to Dublin City Council.
At last month’s South Central Area Committee meeting, a report was presented to councillors which was commissioned by Waterways Ireland and the local authority.
Activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing may be introduced as part of the initiative to turn sections of the canal into “community blueways.”
The stretch of the canal between Kylemore Road and Portobello has been earmarked as a potential spot for the water sports and would require involving local community groups and sports clubs.
Humphrey Murphy, CEO of Irish Leisure Consultants (ILC), who carried out the research said that “there’s a high value given to the canal by those in the communities along it.
“There’s also perception that there’s number of opportunities there that haven’t yet been realised,” he said.
“The overall challenge then is how do we deliver on what people see as potential? How do we create that value?” Murphy said.
However, Murphy says that to implement the suggestion the entire canal would have to be upgraded, including the construction of better paths, lighting, seating, and informational signs.
Seven spots along the canal have been marked as potential locations for the water activities which would include the development of steps down into the water and boat storage.
Murphy says that initially a watersports provider would be hired to get the service up and running before local trainees would be brought in to become instructors.
This would echo the method used by Cabra Kayak Club on the Royal Canal which worked with local communities to increase participation in watersports in north Dublin.
The sports would begin in summer first, Murphy says, before being ran year-round.
“There needs to be programmes and a certain amount of hand holding for a period of two or three years to build up that sort of awareness and opportunity and engagement by the local communities in the on-water potential of the canal,” Murphy said.
Independent councillor Sophie Nicoullaud, who supported the project, said that swimming in the canal should also be permitted if watersports are going to be introduced.
“I hope it is and if not, what type of barriers do we have? Paris has done it during the summer on a temporary basis,” she said.
However, Murphy says that “at the moment, there are issues around swimming in the canal that I can’t address here, that’s really Waterways Ireland can address that further.”
“But I know there is a desire, it’s possible to swim in the canal, but I know that there are, as I say, limitations around that currently,” he said.