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Natural Resources Canada to discontinue printing of topographic maps

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The following is a copy of an email sent from Brad Green, President of World of Maps, a seller of maps, including Natural Resources Canada’s line of topographic maps, the National Topographic System maps. Essentially, NRCan is looking to discontinue printing its own maps and is seeking to focus on maintaining its digital data.

Brad Green has provided essential NRCan contacts on this issue, including the current Minister of Natural Resources, John Efford. These are listed below. Below this listing of contacts is his letter regarding NRCan’s decision.

John Dawson
Natural Resources Canada
615 Booth Street, 07Ath Floor, Room. 712
Ottawa, ON
Canada K1A 0E9
Telephone: (613) 947-0112
Fax : (613) 995-2000
E-mail: john.dawson@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

Jean Cooper
Director General, ESS/GC-MSB
Natural Resources Canada
615 Booth Street, 07Ath Floor, Room. 718
Ottawa, ON
Canada K1A 0E9
Telephone: (613) 947-0793
Fax : (613) 995-2000
E-mail: Jean.Cooper@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

Richard B. Fadden
Deputy Minister, DMO/DMO
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street, 21st Floor, Room. B5-1
Ottawa, ON
Canada K1A 0E4
Telephone: (613) 992-3280
Fax : (613) 992-3828
E-mail: Richard.Fadden@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

John Efford
Minister of Natural Resources Canada, MINO/DO
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street, 21st Floor, Room. C7-1
Ottawa, ON
Canada K1A 0E4
Telephone: (613) 996-2007
Fax : (613) 996-4516
E-mail: john.efford@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

----- Original Message -----
From: Brad Green
To: Cheryl Woods
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2005 4:20 PM
Subject: NRCan announces end to paper topo maps Jan 2007

Dear Cheryl,

Would you please send this note to the CARTA list and any other interested parties. If you agree with me that this is a very bad policy decision (abandoning paper topographic maps) could you please assist me in making this fact known.

Brad Green
President, World of Maps Inc.
Sept 22, 2005

On September 7, 2005 Natural Resources Canada invited the Regional Distribution Center (RDC) business representitives from across Canada to hear the bleak future prospect for paper topographic maps in Canada.

The meeting was chaired by Mr. John Dawson, Acting Director Centre for Topographic Information. Other government representatives attending are:
  • Ms. Jean Cooper, Director General, Mapping Services Branch
  • Barbara MacIntosh, Manager CMO
  • Marjo Lalonde, Supervisor
  • John Donner, CTI
  • Sylvain Lemay, CTI
  • Pat Fish, CTI
  • Donna Williams, Atlas of Canada
  • Steve Westley, Atlas of Canada
  • Craig Stewart, Geo Connections
Current plans from the federal government is that the Canada Map Office (CMO) is to be permanently closed at the end of the current business lease for the 130 Bentley Ave warehouse in Jan 2007.

The CMO has already discontinued press runs of all NTS maps.

The CMO now wants to discontinue printing - plotting paper maps of any sort (currently a plotter is used to replenish out of print paper maps).

The CMO states that paper maps are not their "raison d'etre" they want to concern themselves with the digital map files only, they claim because that is better but I am convinced their real motivation is simply because they think digital data is cheaper than a warehouse of paper maps.

The CMO proposal at the moment is that RDC's would access vector data and produce paper maps for sale. The actual exact method this will take is unknown, a presentation by PCI Geomatics of a map server model they developed was given.

World of Maps Inc. is an RDC and there are ten other private and government agencies acting as RDC's across Canada. This distribution network for selling paper topographic maps has been established successfully for about 10 years. There are also thousands of smaller retail dealers across the country as well. The users of topographic maps (our customers) are from various groups including: Search & Rescue, Forest Fire crews, Hunters, Fishermen, Outdoor recreation users, Engineering firms, Environmental firms, developers, Oil & Gas Pipeline companies, Mining firms, University field workers and many other organizations and individuals.

The issue of the old dates of topographic maps was raised at the meeting as it always is, this time used as a reason to discontinue paper maps. (NRCan policy decisions to cut costs some years ago was to no longer update any more paper topo maps) The majority of the Canadian landmass is unpopulated, and there is likely no difference to when the paper maps was originally produced. That small percentage of topographic maps near populated areas are indeed quite old and that is important. Our experience is that people use topographic maps for either remote areas or for the actual accurate geographic information and the date of the maps is not as important a factor.

The government claims that they have up-to-date digital vector map data (their demonstation map at this meeting did not support that claim however) and it appears to me that the government feels that there is no longer any need to continue to produce paper maps. The quality of the demonstration topo map produced was inferior in quality to a regular paper topo map with that typical computer generated "schematic" look. While the demo map featured an old road network presumably once operational the main advantage of this type of product is that it is "more up-to-date" as I pointed out above that is not relevant to most of the Canadian landmass.

The RDC's were told that if there is a business case it is up to each individual RDC to purchase a large format printer and necessary software to print and distribute topographic maps in the future because the government policy at this time is to abandon paper maps as much as possible.

In my opinion it is the responsibility of the federal government to continue to produce paper maps of the Canadian landmass for Canadian taxpayers. If indeed the digital vector map data can be used to produce a more up to date paper map it is the responsibilty of the government to do that. Our business has the printing facilities to produce maps as suggested but I would prefer to be able to do that AND continue to access the existing paper maps at the CMO because despite being old they are of better quality and paid for in full by Canadian taxpayers.

I intend to make this issue known to all interested parties, please contact me if you agree and can help in any way.

Brad Green
========= World of Maps Inc. =========
The Source for Geographic and Travel information
1235 Wellington St. Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1Y 3A3
Telephone (613) 724-6776 -OR- 1-800-214-8524
Fax. (613) 724-7776 or 1-800-897-9969
mailto: info@worldofmaps.com

1 Responses to “Natural Resources Canada to discontinue printing of topographic maps”

  1. Anonymous Wayne Merry 

    Discontinuing printed topographical maps would be a disaster for volunteer search and rescue groups across the country.

    Volunteer groups use at least two scales of maps in planning and executing any search and rescue event. Maps must be present at the SAR base for planning and recording each individual sweep or search route. At absolute minimum, each team leader must also carry a 1:50,000 quad.

    Volunteer groups cannot afford plotters, and considering that a good many SAR callouts occur on weekends, holidays or at night, there is usually no quick access to agencies with plotters.

    I have provided SAR training for all territories since 1990 and have written manuals for Yukon EMO, NT EMO and RCMP, and a generic one which is used in seven provinces and territories and has been translated into French. SAR
    organizations will be in trouble if printed maps are discontinued. And it is likely that there will be an increase in SAR events if the general public finds maps harder to access.

    Please do what you can about this.

    Thanks so much,

    Wayne Merry

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