News: Assessment in the Offing for Second Ferry

Kingston Whig-Standard - June 24

It wasn’t the announcement of the long-awaited second ferry to Wolfe Island, but it was a step in that direction.

Provincial officials gathered Tuesday morning at the Wolfe Island ferry terminal in Kingston to announce some of the plans for an environmental assessment of the potential for adding a second ferry to the route.

“Islanders, tourists and various services are wholly dependent on the Wolfe Island ferry for access on and off the island,” said Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala, adding that the ferry is a critical service to the island and an important economic driver for Kingston.

“I know that the ferry is operating near or over capacity during weekdays throughout the year,” Kiwala said.

“The increased capacity and reduced traffic congestion will most certainly have a most positive impact for commuters.”

Morrison Hershfield Ltd. has been hired to conduct the study, Kiwala added.

Ministry of Transportation officials declined to say how much the environmental assessment would cost.

MTO senior project manager Tina White said companies that submitted losing bids had yet to be formally notified of the government’s decision.

In 2011, a Wolfe Island transportation planning report recommended adding a second, larger ferry and improving the docks at Kingston, Marysville and Dawson’s Point.

An environmental assessment is needed because the second ferry would add capacity to the route. The work on land and in the water is to include assessment of how the proposed changes would impact wildlife and habitat, archeology and surveys, White said. Public information sessions are also to be held.

This is the first time the MTO has conducted an environmental assessment for the addition of a second ferry to an existing route, White said.

The results of the environmental assessment, which is expected to start in a few weeks and be completed by the end of 2017, will determine how the second ferry gets added.

“It is our desire on Wolfe to complete this study in early 2017,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle.

“We’re hoping it’s finished early so that we can get the order in for that new 75-car ferry and hopefully launch it by 2018.”

Kiwala said more than a million people a year travel to and from the island, and Doyle added that tourists entering Canada on the Hornes Ferry from Cape Vincent have been frustrated by the over-capacity ferry to Kingston.

Doyle said a second ferry between Kingston and the island would also relieve pressure on other ferries in the area.

Currently, the Wolfe Islander III is in dry dock in Hamilton for a refit and scheduled inspection and maintenance. In its place is the smaller Frontenac II, which usually sails between Millhaven and Amherst Island.

The Quinte Loyalist is, in turn, taking the place of the Frontenac II, leaving the Glenora the only ferry operating between Adolphustown and Glenora.

A second Wolfe Island ferry would avoid the shuffle that happens whenever one ferry is pulled out of service, Doyle said.

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