Chi-Cheemaun docks to get much-needed repairs
Province to provide funding, even though the docks are a federal responsibility, minister says
A group of people in South Baymouth who were set to protest on Manitoulin Island Friday over the late start to the Chi-Cheemaun ferry season received some good news.
The province said it will make money available so the ferry can safely dock in Tobermory and South Baymouth.
The start of the ferry season was scheduled for Friday, but low water levels have caused problems with the dock, which is owned and operated by Transport Canada.
As a result, the season was delayed.
"It is a federal facility, but we know that this is something that needs to be dealt with," said Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle. "I wasn't prepared to wait any longer."
The fact the province is stepping in is a relief for people like Alain Harvey, who co-owns two businesses on Manitoulin Island.
But he's concerned about politics between the two levels of government.
"Until the federal minister says, ‘That's fine, we're giving the ok for the work and thank you province for paying for it,’ … we're still going to be on edge," Harvey said. "[We’re] still going to be fighting to make sure something happens."
Gravelle said he anticipates the federal government will accept the offer from the province to pay for the repairs, however he still considers the wharves a federal responsibility.
"The work that needs to be done is immediate work," Gravelle said.
"The wharfs are owned and operated by Transport Canada. We have a legal agreement with them for them to maintain that. I had a discussion with the federal minister who at this stage is not prepared to do that."
The cost to modify the fenders is less than $300,000.
Meanwhile, there are more troubled waters for the Owen Sound Transportation Company, which operates the Chi-Cheemaun ferry.
Grey Bruce Owen Sound MP Larry Miller said that 30 workers at the company were to be laid off on Friday in an effort by the province and the company to save money.