Government of Canada Frees Topo Data

Last June, Paul posted something about a rumour that Natural Resources Canada had been on the verge of making digital topographic data freely available, but that it had been put on hold while the new minister reviewed the decision. Today, Drew forwarded me an e-mail from within NRCan announcing, informally, to stakeholders that the data will be free as of April 1; excerpts below:

In response to demands from users for no fee access to framework geographic data and the increasing technological shift in the marketplace, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is pleased to announce that starting April 1st 2007, the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) will change the way its Digital Topographic Data (DTD) can be accessed. ESS will initiate a change from a cost recovery environment to an environment providing no fee access to its current DTD products.
On April 1st, 2007, NRCan will start to make its existing DTD products available through the Geogratis Web portal. By combining the functionality from the current On-line Purchasing and Subscribers Web sites, the user will be provided with no fee access to DTD products. Under the new distribution policy, commercial licenses will no longer be required, as all users will obtain rights for unlimited use and royalty-free distribution of the data through a single unrestricted use license agreement.
For subscribers, this means that beginning on April 1st, 2007, you will no longer have to pay for access rights or subscriptions for DTD products. […] For distributors, this means that beginning on April 1st, 2007, you will no longer have to pay royalty fees for the commercial use of DTD products.

I wonder what the impact of this will be. My (uninformed) guess is that it should encourage a lot more mapping in Canada. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Previously: Canadian Topo Map Update: CCA Conference Items.