Chi-Cheemaun delay bad for tourism, minister says
Province pushing to speed up changes to ferry docks to accommodate low water
Ontario's Minister of Tourism says he's concerned a delay in the start of the Chi-Cheemaun ferry season could hurt tourism on Manitoulin Island.
The Chi-Cheemaun ferry connects Manitoulin Island with the Bruce Peninsula during the tourism season.
But low water in Lake Huron has caused a problem at the docks in Tobermory and South Baymouth. Fenders that keep the boat from hitting the dock are now too high.
The fenders belong to Transport Canada and, unless the federal agency makes modifications, the company that runs the Chi-Cheemaun said it might have to wait until June for water levels to come up — cutting a month from the sailing season.
Minister of Tourism, Michael Chan, said provincial officials are pushing Transport Canada to fix the problem.
"I am watching the situation," he said.
"Provincially, the ministry ... is engaging the feds very, very closely. We are fighting hard. This is very, very important to local tourism."
'We ... encourage them to move along'
No one from Transport Canada was available for an interview.
In an email, a spokesperson said the agency is in discussions with Owen Sound Transportation and the provincial government to explore options to address the impacts of low water levels on the docking of the Chi-Cheemaun ferry.
However, the President and CEO of the Owen Sound Transportation said she started raising the issue two years ago with Transport Canada.
"Transport Canada has not told us what their intentions are, but we would encourage them to move along," Susan Schrempf said.
She added water levels typically rise in the spring, but it could take until June for the water to rise the 25 cm that are needed for the ferry to run.
The Chi-Cheemaun ferry is supposed to embark on its first run on May 3.