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Friday, March 8, 2013

Low Levels Impact Chi Cheemaun

Regional | by Manny Paiva  

MP says low water levels in South Baymouth may keep Chi Cheemaun docked.

There is a concern over record low water levels in Georgian Bay and how it would affect the sailing season for the Chi Cheemaun.

Bruce Grey Owen Sound MP Larry Miller has asked the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans to dredge the channel into the South Baymouth harbour as soon as possible.

Miller is worried the low water levels at Manitoulin Island may prevent the Big Canoe from completing her service to the island.

The Owen Sound Transportation Company says the low water levels are "unprecedented" and they are of a serious concern.

President and CEO Susan Schrempf tells Bayshore Broadcasting News they are evaluating the potential impact on service this Spring.

Miller tells Bayshore Broadcasting News the channel at South Baymouth would have to be widened and deepened.

An engineering firm has been engaged to do a calculation of the amount of material that needs to be dredged to ensure safe water levels over the next several years.

Schrempf says they started this process to ensure that the people who needed the information had it in time to perform any dredging that may become necessary.

The Conservative MP adds the Ministry is aware of the urgency of the situation.

Miller adds the ferry service is not only important to tourism in Grey Bruce but also Northern Ontario since the Chi Cheemaun is a connecting link.

Water levels do go up in the spring, but Schrempf says it is improbable that they will recover to 2012 levels.

The first day of the sailing season for the Chi Cheemaun is May 3rd.

In the busy summer season, the ferry carries about 12 hundred people each day.

Miller says "having the Big Canoe not operate this Spring and Summer is not an option."



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