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Businesses in downtown Kingston, Ont. fed up with ongoing closure of LaSalle Causeway

The ongoing closure of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, Ont. is frustrating businesses who depend on tourism in the downtown area.

The federally owned bridge was damaged during construction on March 30 and has been closed to both vehicle and marine traffic since. Last week, it reopened for pedestrian traffic.

“The federal government has a responsibility to open that navigable waterway,” said Eric Ferguson, the general manager of Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises. “They can do it by lifting an east portion out of the bridge.”

The company has a ship trapped on the other side of the causeway, and was unable to access it before the beginning of cruise ship season on May 1.

Up until Thursday, they had two trapped on the other side, but were able to pull it across themselves.

“We were able to get the Island Star through a low, fixed portion of the bridge that’s usually used by recreational boaters,” Ferguson explained. “So we ballasted the vessel down and then removed some non-structural superstructure elements from the top deck of the boat.”

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said they are taking a phased approach to fix the bridge.

The federal government says repairs on the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, Ont. could take 8 to 10 weeks to complete. (Jack Richardson/CTV News Ottawa)

“PSPC currently estimates that these repairs will take eight to 10 weeks,” said a PSPC statement on March 3.

“This timeline is subject to change should unforeseen issues be uncovered during the repair work.”

That timeline would mean a full re-opening of the LaSalle Causeway by mid-July, but that’s already halfway through cruise ship season.

“We’ve had no support from the federal government on paying for any of the expenses on this lost revenue,” said Ferguson.

“And we think that that’s unacceptable.”

With fewer tourists able to take boat tours into and out of Kingston Harbour, some restaurant owners have noticed less foot traffic. The owner of Morrison’s Restaurant, Mike Argiris, blames the closure of the causeway.

“I don’t see anybody,” he said.

“It’s sort of like a disaster, dead, downtown for this month.”

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