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Canada shreds plan to scrap paper maps

Canada, 12 October 2006 – The Canada Map Office ) has found its way out of the scrap heap. The previous Liberal government decided to close the map office, which provides regional dealers with large-scale topographical maps that show details about terrain and elevation. The plan had been to move to digital maps only.

But Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced Wednesday that the Conservative government has yanked that plan off its course, and the map office will remain open.

Kathleen Olson, a spokeswoman for Lunn, said Natural Resources Canada received a flood of letters protesting the planned closure. “We did start seeing a lot of commotion around the idea of this office closing,” Olson said.

“The minister wanted to find out more about it and once he did, he quickly realized that this is not something he wanted to see happen.”

Map librarian Heather McAdam was among the many who cried out against the plan to provide the maps only over the Internet for Canadians to download and print themselves. McAdam, who works at Carleton University, said that won’t help the third of Canadian households that don’t have internet access.

And she said many Canadians prefer paper maps to digital ones because they can be spread out to show a much wider area at once. “When you want to plan something or you want to look at something, you have to see the beginning and the end,” she said. “How do you look at that on a screen?”

She said paper maps are vital to many people, including researchers, emergency services personnel and outdoor enthusiasts. “What about if you’re a hiker and you’re out in the bush?” she asked. “A compass and a GPS are not what you need. You need a map.”

– About Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) works to ensure the responsible development of Canada’s natural resources, including energy, forests, minerals and metals. It uses its expertise in earth sciences to build and maintain an up-to-date knowledge base of Canada’s landmass and resources. NRCan develops policies and programmes that enhance the contribution of the natural resources sector to the economy and improve the quality of life of all Canadians.