Don't know why the most popular choice at the moment is fill it in, but I'm pretty confident that will never happen. The permits sold to use the canal are a significant source of money for the state. Also there are so many marinas and marine businesses that service the recreational boaters. Recreational boaters transport their boats thru this canal to either NYC to get to the ocean or Lake Erie to access the rest of the Great Lakes.Then there's the fishing resource that it is. I grew up a stones throw from the canal right between Brockport and Spencerport right next to Salmon Creek Country Club.
Then there is the historical value of it. It is not only NYS history but it's one of the reasons that this country is what it is today because of this commerce channel. Every city between Buffalo and Albany probably would just be villages and towns if it weren't for the Erie Canal.