Great Lakes ice makes for slow start to shipping, boating season

Thick ice on the Great Lakes means the shipping season is off to a slow start and that has Windsor's harbourmaster concerned.
The MV Baie Comeau was the first laker in Port of Windsor of last year, arriving on April 2. (Peter Berry/Port of Windsor/Twitter)

Thick ice on the Great Lakes means the shipping season is off to a slow start and that has Windsor's harbourmaster concerned.

Although freighters have been spotted on the Detroit River, Peter Berry believes ice still on the lakes will have a significant impact on the Port of Windsor.

"The season will be shorter because of the ice. With the shorter season we might see less ships, thereby less cargo, less revenue," he said. "All the port authorities are self-sustaining so they must survive off cargo rates, wharfage rates and the lease of the property they manage."

Berry expects the ice to be out of the way and the shipping season to really start sometime In April.

This year marks the second consecutive season in which thick has delayed the shipping season.

"I've lived in Windsor 18 years, and I honestly don't remember a time that it's been two years in a row that we've had the freeze up on the Great Lake that we've had," he said. "In fact, this delay is the first time since 1997 we've seen the delay to April 2 out of the month of March. It's pretty incredible. There's a real impact to this."

Berry says the loss of revenue for the Port will likely be in the 10-per-cent range.

He also expects a late start to the recreational boating season because the water is colder.

"Small fishing boats, often they don't want to launch their boat into cold water because of potential freezing [of their] lines on their boat, so we're going to see everything delayed this year," he said. "So, marina operators are going to be affected by this. 

"The revenue loss is not merely to the port as a result of the ice, but will be felt right to the general public."


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