Canadian Government Abandoning Paper Topo Maps?

The Canadian government wants to get out of the business of producing paper topographical maps, according to an e-mail from World of Maps president Brad Green (reprinted on Cartography). As of January 2007, when the lease on the Canada Map Office’s warehouse expires, the CMO will be closed down; instead, the Centre for Topographical Information will make the vector data available to third parties to print their own maps. Press runs on the maps have already been discontinued.

Green’s agin it, and I think I am too — I’m a fairly heavy consumer of topo maps (many of which bought at his store, actually), and, yes, I’d be affected by this decision.

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.

Paper maps not the raison d’être of the map office? What, pray, is their raison d’être, then?

Green argues that vector data, while more current, is not as high quality as the original paper maps, which, while dated, are nonetheless useful for their audience, who need natural and geological information, rather than whether this or that highway is in the right spot. (These are topo maps, not road atlases.)

Read the entire e-mail; Green’s compiled a list of bureaucrats to contact to lobby against the decision. (He also lists the Minister of Natural Resources, but he’s reportedly quite ill and on a reduced workload; I’d be surprised if the map issue makes it to his desk.)

I haven’t been able to find anything about this on the Centre for Topographic Information’s web site, but I’ll do some digging and get back to you on this. Time for me to do some reporting, I think.