The Hamilton Canal which from which a foul smell was emanating due to polluted water has today become an attractive and environmental friendly water way, thanks to the Hamilton Canal Development project the Economic Development Ministry launched under its tourism promotion programme. This covers a 22-kilometre stretch from Ma Oya to the mouth of the Kelani River.
For a long time the natural environment and the health of residents in the vicinity of Hamilton Canal were seriously affected by waste from nearby houses and animal farms in the area. As a result the new project has drawn the wholehearted supported support of the community.
The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation is carrying out the work under Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s direction. Already the first stage has been completed following the development of a nine kilometre-stretch from Ma Oya to Negombo. Work on the second stage – 14 km-distance from Negombo Lagoon to the mouth of the Kelani River at Hekiththa – commenced on February 20. The first two kilometres of it is expected to be completed by the end of next month.
During the 15th Century King Vira Parakramabahu VIII, Negombo lagoon served as the main seaport for trading in cinnamon and other commodities. According to the GCEC Environmental profile of Muthurajawela and Negombo Lagoon (March 1991), it was this king who initiated the canal project to facilitate access and transport of goods. The Dutch improved upon it and is presently called the Dutch canal, linking Kelani River with the Negombo lagoon to the east of Muturajawela.
The Canal in its present form was completed during the early British period in 1802. That year British Revenue and Commerce Agent Garvin Hamilton started a new canal, to the east of the earlier Dutch canal, to link the latter with a series of parallel canals.