Policies are reviewed yearly and revised as-required. They were developed in collaboration with the board of directors with input from the membership, governing bodies like Whitewater Ontario, Canoe Kayak Ontario and Canoe Kayak Canada along with our partners at the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission.

Code of Conduct and Ethical Responsibilities 

As members of the Ottawa River Runners, we believe:

  • in creating an inclusive paddling environment accessible to all that is healthy, safe and fun.
  • that each member of ORR has a responsibility to maintain operations and activities in an ecologically sound manner
  • in promoting leadership and the social value of volunteerism and collaboration
  • in the importance of an advocacy role within our community
  • that each member has a personal responsibility to demonstrate ethics, respect, sportsmanship, and teamwork that extends into the community.
  • in encouraging both recreational challenge and competitive excellence
  • in promoting physical literacy and excellence in training in an environment that encourages life-long physical activity
  • that young paddlers must make a commitment to doing their best in both academic and athletic fields.

The code of conduct is presented as a set of basic guidelines and a few supplementary rules. The guidelines are a set of general conditions which are to be followed by all participants in ORR activities. The supplementary rules are strict, clearly defined rules which must not be violated under any circumstances. In the event the guidelines or rules are not followed, the section entitled “disciplinary procedures” outlines procedures to be followed. Acceptance and support by paddlers, coaches, support individuals, parents and volunteers will benefit everyone.

When the ORR racing team goes on trips, athletes are under the direction of the coaches and team support people. During the course of a trip, decisions have to be made, often in a very short time frame by the responsible adults based on their experience, which they feel are in the best interests of their paddlers. Athletes by participating, agree to accept these decisions even though they may be difficult to accept at the time. While all attempts are made to minimize risk, whitewater paddling has inherent risks of serious injury, hypothermia or drowning. For this reason, decisions by the coach or responsible adult to not run rapids or participate in events because of unsafe conditions must be clearly understood by the athletes. 

The goal of the team is to perform at an optimum level. In order to achieve this, we require mutual respect and understanding between the individual athletes, coaches, managers, officials and group as a whole. Remember almost everyone you will interact with in the paddling and racing community is a volunteer. Failure to consider the effect of our actions on others can easily reduce the success of our paddlers. 

Basic Guidelines

We will always wear a helmet and lifejacket in whitewater and have an approved rescue throwrope in the boat on river trips.

We should always strive to do our individual best in our sport.

WE should always demonstrate good sportmanship and show respect for other competitors and officials (esp. judges).

We must avoid interference with competitions or preparation of other athletes for competition.

We should always behave in a way which reflects favourably on our sport, our club, our sponsors, as well as our families and others who support us.

We should strive to be positive and supportive of others in our programs.

We should always help others who are in difficulty by rescuing paddlers, boats and paddles without putting ourselves at risk.

We should always strive to be on time for practices. Lateness shows disrespect for the coach and fellow athletes.

We should always offer to help with race and practice course preparation. Volunteers in charge appreciate this immensely.

We must work cooperatively at team meetings on the establishment of acceptable team guidelines and strive to observe these. Such guidelines may relate to quiet times, curfews, mealtimes, meeting times and practice times. 

Supplementary Rules

All laws in effect in the team location must be observed. Such laws relate to amongst others:

  1. illegal drug or alcohol use
  2. destruction, defacing or theft of property
  3. Possession or consumption of alcohol by an athlete eligible for competition in a junior category or younger is strictly forbidden on team trips. Violation of this rule will result in immediate suspension from the team.
  4. All team members must ensure that the head coach or his designate is aware of and in concurrence with their whereabouts and activities at all times when they are away from the team accommodations or race/river site.
  5. If room or tent visiting involves persons under 18 years of age, doors (and except where impractical due to weather, etc… curtains) are to be open, allowing clear view of the room and occupants.
  6. There shall be no visiting of rooms during quiet hours or after curfew.
  7. Club membership fees must be paid prior to the commencement of the paddling season. Without such, the athlete, the club, the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission, and all coaches and managers do not have insurance protection in the event of an accident or lawsuit. This is not negotiable.
  8. At every ORR event and particularly those away from our home base, the head coach is in charge of all members of the team. Where team members are travelling as part of the team, that responsibility will start at the time the team leaves the designated starting point and finish when the team returns to the designated drop-off point. In cases where the permanent head coach does not accompany the team, a head coach will be designated. During a trip or event, the head coach may appoint a designate for certain periods.
  9. In any case, common sense should prevail: athletes should follow all reasonable guidance or direction provided by coaches, managers or others travelling with the team in positions of responsibility (eg. parent drivers and chaperones) even where they may not have been formally designated by the head coach.  

Facility Etiquette

Athletes are expected to take the time to adjust slalom gates that are in the water, replace gates which are partially off the crosswires, fix wires and generally take care of the site as though it was home. This is an important safety issue. Garbage should be picked up and disposed of in the closest refuse bin. The building should be kept neat and orderly. In the interest of all who have valuable equipment at the facility, ensure that is is properly locked including access on the second floor. It is not acceptable to leave the building unlocked while you are paddling. Replacing the locks and keys alone would cost more than $1000. Boat storage fees will be paid with the membership and boats will be identified by the owner and removed when the membership/storage fee has expired. The club will have the right to remove the boat within not less than two weeks after informing the boat owner if the boat owner does not inform the club of his intentions. 
On the water, paddlers should not rest near the gates and should leave room for upstream and downstream passage through the gates. Always look upstream before attaining and downstream before descending. Paddlers attaining should yield to paddlers descending. Share the river. Avoid sections of the course already being used for coaching. Paddle defensively. Respect scheduled coaching time slots. In all cases, safety and common sense comes first.

Parent and Athlete Volunteer Involvement

The Ottawa River Runners was founded in the early 1970’s by a group of likeminded paddlers and continues to operate entirely as a volunteer run cooperative. Aside from some coaches and instructors, there are no paid positions within the organization. The backbone of the club is volunteers. It is extremely important that the parents and athletes become actively involved in the activities of the club. Examples include race timing, first aid, judging and safety support, facility and equipment construction and maintenance and club administration. Coaching support such as timing and videotaping at practices and project fundraising are other notable areas of need. None of this happens by itself and if left to a few individuals, it may simply cease to function when athletes and their parents are most counting on it.  

Staff and Volunteer Screening

All staff responsible for instruction and coaching of minors must submit a Police Record Check “for a job in the vulnerable sector”. Volunteers who work directly with minors in an instructional or coaching capacity must also provide a Police Record Check. Forms can be downloaded from the Ottawa Police Services website. Cost is $15 for Ottawa residents and $52 for non-residents for paid staff positions. Volunteers are not charged. Please allow several weeks for processing. In addition, all staff must provide character references as part of their resumes. 

Aside from our interview process and character references, staff are monitored and mentored by more senior staff. In addition, board members and / or program committee members review staffing on a regular basis. Parents are encouraged to observe as much as they wish to. 

Conflict of Interest

As a non-profit club, it is important to recognize that conflict of interest can arise whether financial, personal or otherwise. Examples might include purchasing of equipment from a family member who has a retail or manufacturing enterprise or hiring of or contributing to fundraising for a relative of a board member. Often people are unaware that their activities are in conflict with the best interests of the collective or group or in our case the paddling club. Thus, it is important to cultivate a culture of openness and candor. Where a potential conflict of interest arises, the club requires that the board member who is potentially in conflict, disclose the conflict. If it is concluded by the other members of the board that a conflict or potential conflict exists between the individual and the club’s interest, the interested board member must recuse him or herself from participating in the decision or motion at hand. An opportunity should exist for board members without a conflict to speak freely about the decision at hand without the presence of the recused (or interested or conflicted) individual in the room. Board members and staff are requested to disclose any potential conflict of interest at the commencement of board meetings and annual general meetings or at the very least, when they become aware of them. 

ORR Equipment Policies

The Ottawa River Runners has aquired a fleet of paddling equipment which is used for the benefit of the organization. Club policies which govern use of this equipment are shared below. The ORR would like to acknowledge the support of the Trillium Foundation which allowed for the purchase of most of the club equipment with grants for the summer camps program, and for the slalom development program.

The first priority for ORR equipment is to serve the needs of the programs offered by the organization for members of the club and youth of the Ottawa community. Club members may access equipment when they are participating in programs that require it, or through member loans when they are arranged in advance and allowed by the boat use policies. The fleet consists of; plastic recreational whitewater kayaks, plastic and composite slalom canoes/kayaks, and associated equipment (skirts, PFDs, paddles, helmets). The plastic recreational kayaks primarily serve the summer camps program and youth development programs. The slalom canoes and kayaks serve the youth development programs and the youth introductory level slalom programs.

Equipment is NOT to be used without advance permission from the equipment manager or club directors.

Harassment Policy & Complaints Process

ORR is committed to providing a sport environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Harassment is a form of discrimination and is prohibited by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by Human Rights legislation. It is offensive and degrading and in its extreme forms can be a criminal offense. Members found to have engaged in conduct constituting harassment / discrimination may be disciplined / sanctioned by this policy and if applicable, the law. This policy applies to all club members, staff and volunteers. All members shall avoid and discourage others‘ expressions, communications or displays of bigotry, prejudice, sexual comments and racial slurs. Harassment on the basis of race, ancestry, place of ancestry, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, ability or religious affiliation will not be tolerated. Not withstanding this policy, every person who experiences harassment has the right to seek assistance from government and the legal system.

Harassment is improper behaviour by any person towards another person which a person knows or ought to know would be unwelcome. This behaviour may include conduct, comments or gestures which are insulting, intimidating, hurtful, degrading, or otherwise offensive or embarrassing. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • written or verbal abuse or threats
  • physical assault
  • unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos, or taunting about a person’s body, sexual orientation, attire, age, status, ethnic or racial origin, religion, etc…
  • displaying of sexually explicit, racist or other offensive or derogatory material / graffiti
  • practical jokes which cause awkwardness or embarrassment
  • hazing or initiation rights
  • leering or obscene gestures
  • intimidation or threats of retaliation for reporting harassment
  • condescension or patronizing behaviour which undermines self-respect or adversely affects performance
  • false accusations of harassment motivated by malice or mischief

Sexual abuse is when a young person is used by an older child, adolescent or adult for his or her own sexual stimulation or gratification. Ontario has mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse and neglect of children and youth. Thus any member or the ORR who has reasonable grounds to suspect may be suffering from sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect has an obligation to report the suspicion and information to the Children’s Aid Society and / or local police service. Failure to report an offense may result in charges under the law.

ORR takes the view that intimate sexual relationships between coaches or other persons in positions of power and adult athletes, except married or common-law relationships, can have harmful effects on the athlete involved and on other athletes and coaches. Should a sexual relationship develop between a coach, trainer, manager or person of similar power and an athlete, ORR will investigate and take action which could include re-assignment or if this is not possible, a request for resignation.

Injury Reporting & Tracking

All activity entails some risk. Minor injury is to some extent unavoidable. The club mitigates risk for major injury based on facility design, instruction, required use of personal safety equipment (personal flotation device, helmet, throwrope, boat flotation) and safe paddling practices.

In case of an incident, staff and / or qualified club members must assess the situation. Staff with first aid certification may choose to manage minor injuries. First aid supplies are maintained on site. If the injury is serious, call 911, notify parents or guardians and contact the club executives at:

[email protected]

Critical injuries and major incidents are to be reported by club executive to City of Ottawa Corporate Risk Management at 613-580-2655 within 24 hours of occurrence.

Please use the form below.

Anti-Doping Regulations

As a licensed competitor, you are responsible for ensuring you do not take banned substances including medications. Whitewater Canada’s rules state that a competitor deliberately taking banned drugs or using banned doping practices to enhance performance, will be disqualified from Whitewater Canada sanctioned activities for life. You are also required to participate in out of competition and no-notice testing at your home, at training camps, as well as at doping controls at events. These controls are conducted by certified doping control officers from the Canadian Anti-Doping Organization. Check with your coach or Whitewater Canada if you have any questions about banned drugs or other doping related matters.

A word of caution about the use of performance enhancing supplements. There have been many instances of athletes testing positive for banned substances including anabolic steroids and growth hormone where the supplement in question was thought to be safe. It is strongly advised to avoid supplements and to follow healthy nutritional recommendations including the Canada Food Guide.

Concussion Prevention and Management Policy

Paddling is not a contact sport. Thus head injuries are infrequent. Club policy requires all whitewater participants to wear a purpose designed helmet at all times while in whitewater. Concussion can be thought of as a bruised brain. Clinical signs and symptoms immediately post head trauma may include loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, disorientation, vomiting, disequilibrium and sensory dysfunction including visual, olfactory and auditory disturbance.

Longterm sequelae of concussion may include cognitive deficits and poor concentration, dizziness, balance and coordination problems, recurrent headache, emotional lability, mood disturbance, altered sleep pattern and easy fatiguability.

In the event of a head trauma resulting in concussive symptoms, a parent or guardian will be informed and or paramedics will be called based on severity of signs and symptoms.

The club recommends evaluation by a physician prior to return to activity. Assuming medical clearance, a general recommendation is rest including reduced school related activities until symptom free. For youth and adolescents, a minimum of one week of rest is usually required. Once symptom free, the athlete may return to a graduated program of low impact aerobic activity such as stationary bike or elliptical followed by paddling specific light workouts. If symptom free with graduated activity, the athlete can resume full practices and finally competition. If at any point during convalescence, symptoms recur, the athlete must again rest and when well, restart a graduated return to activity. Activity is typically increased in a stepwise fashion, every 24 to 48 hours.

Rowan’s Law: Concussion safety

All club members under 26 years of age and parents or guardians of members under 18 must confirm every year that they have reviewed Ontario’s Concussion Awareness Resources. The Province of Ontario’s Rowan’s Law: Concussion safety portal can be found at:


The Province of Ontario has produced a number of Concussion Awareness Resource e-booklets available at the links below.

Members are also expected to adhere to Canoe Kayak Canada’s Safe Sport policies. More details are available at:

Portal: https://canoekayak.ca/safe-sport/

Policies: https://canoekayak.ca/ckc-safe-sport-policies/

Equitable Access

The Ottawa River Runners strive to create opportunities for participation at all levels of whitewater sport. To this end, we have programs for introduction to paddling for youth and adolescents. As whitewater paddling competence improves, we provide programming ranging from FUNdamentals to competing to win. Our river trips are rated so that similar participation opportunities are available for a range of abilities on different rivers. Membership costs are affordable and family memberships are discounted to encourage family and young paddlers to join. Club equipment is available for supervised use.

Complaint Procedure

If problems do arise, in most situations the coaching / instructional staff will be able to guide and counsel athletes (and their parents if minors) and resolve the problem by mutual discussion. The resolution of the problem could involve the imposition of disciplinary measures in consultation with other staff or club directors.

If an informal approach fails to solve the problem, a formal complaint should be made to the head coach / instructor or his designate. The formal complaint must be preceded by notification of the athlete. The formal complaint should include:

  1. the date of the problem
  2. the place the problem occurred
  3. the name and contact information of the person making the complaint
  4. the names of persons who may have been wronged
  5. the name of the person alleged to have broken the code of conduct or harassment rules
  6. the guidelines / rules which have been broken plus any other relevant information

A copy of the formal complaint is forwarded to the president of the ORR who will set up a time and place for a review panel. The parents of the minor (under 18) involved will be informed. The panel will include the president (or designate from the club board of directors), the head coach or instructor and an additional representative of the board of directors. In the event of a conflict of interest, an additional member of the board of directors will replace the recused panel member. The person alleged to have committed the offense and / or their representative will be allowed to call evidence, testify personally or bring further arguments to light. A written record of the proceedings will be kept. The panel must decide whether the charges are proven and may decide to withdraw privileges of that person or impose some other appropriate penalty. Information on the case is confidential and may not be released by the participants.

A review panel may be convened if in the view of the president and two other members of the board of directors, the incident report of the coach / instructor warrants further action. This course of action may only be taken where the athlete is informed by the coach / instructor that the incident will form a part of the coach / instructor’s report to the board of directors. The athlete is to be informed within two weeks of the end of the event by the president or designate that a review panel will be convened. In all but extremely serious situations, the length of time required to set up the review panel and conclude its proceedings will preclude suspension from competition or the team while at the event at which the formal complaint was lodged. In extremely serious situations, suspension from the team may only be considered after at least a telephone review with the president or designate (and in the case of minors, their parent(s), except for infractions of team rules which specifically dictate suspension from the team.

Failure to comply with the terms of the suspension will lead to loss of club privileges including use of club equipment and boat storage. As well sanctions against participation in club events may be implemented. Note that in complaints of a criminal nature, the club will defer to the appropriate provincial or federal authority to investigate.

Quality Improvement Plan

The club quality improvement plan is a set of commitments and actions that assist the organization to improve the quality of services delivered. Success will be measured on the basis of athlete retention, participation in club activities, athlete progress and collective athlete results measured against other clubs and provinces in national competitions. The club encourages member and parental feedback to improve program quality. Staff are monitored for quality control. Staff are encouraged and subsidized for participation in continuing education and skill maintenance.