Ice damage to the Bluewater Ferry causeway. Jan 2018, photo by Sue Storr.

MP Expects Federal Funds For Ferry (GALLERY)

Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu is confident the federal government will step in to assist Sombra’s Bluewater Ferry.

St. Clair River ice extensively damaged the raised road leading to its dock and Canada Customs office last Thursday morning, and the entire causeway gave way a few days later.

Ferry Manager Morgan Dalgety said a complete rebuild could run as high as $4-million.

MP Gladu says she’s had ongoing communication with the Minister of Transportation, Minister of Public Safety and the ferry operators and will meet with officials again Wednesday.

“Now that the engineers have had a chance to assess the damage and make some recommendations about the repairs, we’re going to get together and take a look at what we should do right away, because obviously there’s potential for even more damage as the winter goes on, how soon those repairs could be made and what kind of support we can expect to have from the Federal Government,” says Gladu.

She doesn’t expect the business, which has provided over 50 years of waterway transportation between Canada and the United States, will be deserted.

“There’s services and trade and businesses that would be impacted if that service wasn’t restored,” says Gladu. “The government has a limited number of border crossings across Canada, they will be interested to make sure that it stays open. In the echelon of money that they’re spending, $4-million is small.”

Ferry operators weren’t the only ones to take a blow from this years ice, Gladu says she’s received many calls from residents about damage to private docks as well.

“There are at least a dozen and maybe as many as twenty residents that are living along there that have had their docks either partially or totally destroyed,” she says. “One fellow indicated that he just built a new dock for $20,000 in the fall and insurance doesn’t cover docks. So, that’s very troubling for all those residents that have been impacted.”

Gladu says it’s been a unique year with the early onset of cold winter weather.

“Normally the ice flows come more toward the end of January, and the Coast Guard then shuts down the shipping channels,” says Gladu. “This year the ferry shut down early, but the shipping channel wasn’t shut down and some tankers came through and pushed the ice and that’s what led to this incident.”

Gladu expects there will be an investigation into the incident to prevent similar incidents in the future.