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St. Lawrence cruise operator appeals to Trudeau to intervene in Kingston bridge repair paralyzing traffic

 

A Kingston cruise boat operator has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to personally intervene in a botched bridge repair job that has paralyzed commercial marine traffic in the eastern Ontario city’s harbour.

“I ask you to take immediate action to ensure government is part of the solution instead of the problem,” St. Lawrence Cruise Lines President Jason Clark wrote in the letter sent to the office of Prime Minister Trudeau.

At issue is the Lasalle causeway, which divides Kingston’s inner and outer harbors.  An accident during repairs to the span has blocked the inner harbour, trapping a number of commercial vessels and cutting off access to eastern Ontario’s only drydock.

The federal government had originally promised that the causeway would reopen by May 1st, but instead has only given a vague timeline of 8 to 10 weeks for when the navigable channel will be reopened.

“We have sailed into a perfect storm of bureaucratic bungling and ministerial apathy,” said Mr.  Clark.

Local marine stakeholders have presented a solution to federal officials at a reasonable cost that would open a navigation channel from Kingston’s inner to outer harbour, and a local construction company has provided a written quote that they could perform the work within three weeks. However, nearly three weeks later no progress has been made to reopen a channel to marine traffic, something the federal government is required by law to ensure.

“I have met with numerous federal officials and have been given the runaround,” said Mr.  Clark.  “I have written to the appropriate cabinet ministers who don’t seem to be paying attention. Apparently, none of these people understand what it is like to have to meet a payroll today.”

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines can take the federal government to court to force them to meet their obligations under federal law and that option remains on the table, said Mr. Clark.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines operates the Canadian Empress, which provides tours to Montreal, Quebec City, and the National Capital Region.  Mr. Clark has already had to cancel upcoming cruises and he warned that he and other commercial operators face laying off staff if the inaction continues.

“This is not some local problem that a bunch of bureaucrats sitting in cubicles in Ottawa can shrug their shoulders over,” said Mr. Clark.  “The companies affected pump tens of millions of dollars into economies of eastern Ontario and Quebec, even some businesses in the Prime Minister’s own riding may be affected.  It’s time for action.”

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines is a Kingston-owned business operating on the St. Lawrence River since 1981.

(Photo of Canadian Empress from St. Lawrence Cruise Lines and closed bridge photo from Public Services and Procurement Canada)

 

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