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. 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.
Yikes! I can’t tell you how valuable topo/quad maps are to me as a GIS professional to check accuracy of many vector and raster datasets I get. While the information on the maps can be decades out of date, the general topology and hydrography of the maps usually is not. I know every time I grad a quad map, I can pretty much get any lat/long coordinates of almost any feature anywhere in the country. The problem with letting 3rd parties create these maps is that every topo/quad map looks exactly the same, they all have the same symbols and they every map of the same area will be exactly alike. Everyone (not just those in Canada) should keep an eye on The Map Room as Jonathan Crowe plans to research more into this situation. Hopefully this won’t come to fruition. I’ve got quite the collection of paper and DRG quad maps for most of where I’ve worked over the years and now I’ll begin to protect them more as I don’t doubt that the USGS could follow such a path especially if the White House continues to cut their budgets. I view paper topo/quad map production as the responsibility of the government, not the private sector.