The city of Venice issued yet another ban on kayaking in the city canals on June 3rd, 2019, and Venice Kayak has taken the city administration to court yet again.
This is becoming a never ending story.
The short version
The current status is that we can kayak in almost all the minor canals in the city but not paddling in or crossing the Grand Canal and some other more busy (but for us less important) canals.
We can paddle in these canals all day, without limitations.
In practice it means that we can paddle in all of the sestieri Castello and Cannaregio.
Venice Kayak is therefore operating almost as before, except we can go in the Grand Canal.
The detailed version
The city administrations decision 390/2019 of June 3rd contains two parts.
The first is a total ban on kayaking in the Grand Canal and any other canal where public transport is operating, such as the Canale Cannaregio and the Canale Scomenzera. This part is almost certainly instigated by ACTV, the public transport company, which claims that they’ve had problems with kayaks and SUPs getting in the way of the vaporetti. While this might very well be true, as there are other kayak and SUP operators in the city, they haven’t provided any concrete proof of anything. It’s just their word.
The second part limits paddling in a series of named city canals to before 7am and after 5pm, thus basically ruling out paddling in the city during the day. Apparently so, at least.
The relevant disputed words are (translated by VK): “and the remaining canals of the limited traffic area in the lagoon.”
Any normal reading of these words by anybody who knows Venice well, would be that we cannot paddle anywhere within the jurisdiction of the Comune di Venezia, as ‘canal’ would normally be taken to mean generally a waterway.
However, once in court, the city’s lawyers pulled out an alternative interpretation, which we have in writing, that it only refers to the waterways that actually have the word ‘canal’ in their name.
The city administration has also provided us with official maps indicating one (1) such canal in Venice, one (1) in Murano and one (1) in Burano, where we’re therefore not allowed to go between 7am and 5pm. The canal in Burano is closed to normal traffic as there’s a bridge at street level impeding traffic.
In all the other canals, which have the word ‘rio’ in their name instead of ‘canale’, we can go without limitations.
This does make one think that the city didn’t expect us to have the resources to do a second legal recourse, and when we did it anyway, they decided that it was more important saving the first part of the decision than the second, which they have then hollowed out to appease us.