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Kingston, Ont. tourism businesses change plans with causeway shuttered

The continued closure of the LaSalle Causeway isn’t just causing headaches for commuters and boaters.

As the tourism season approaches, it puts two of Kingston’s largest tourist attractions into question: the landmark Thousand Island Cruises and the trolley tours.

The trolley can’t get across to Fort Henry and two of the Thousand Island tour ships are stuck on the wrong side of the causeway.

Will they be able to keep the tours going?

“It is not an option to leave these two vessels in the inner harbour,” Thousand Islands Cruises general manager Eric Ferguson said.

He said if there’s no solution found, it would have a huge impact on the operation.

Tourism is a major financial contributor to the local economy, bringing in over half a billion dollars to the city in 2023.

“I don’t think that we can really devalue the impact,” Tourism Kingston CEO Megan Knott said.

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She says she is optimistic a solution will be found — a sentiment with which Ferguson agrees, saying there have already been discussions about possibly raising the crippled bridge temporarily.

“If that’s not possible, then we’ll have to go over under or around,” he said.

If all else fails, the cruise company, along with St. Lawrence Cruise Lines and other local marine operators, has pitched a new solution.

An internal white page shared with Global News reads, in part: “The Lasalle Causeway has a low, fixed concrete span, which could be temporarily removed to allow passage by marine traffic. If this work is timed to coincide with the Bascule span’s repair, it will result in no additional delay to the causeway’s closure to vehicle traffic.”

As for the trollies, also run by Thousand Islands Cruises, the plans will be altered.

“We’ll focus completely on the west side of the Cataraqui River,” Ferguson said.

That would involve skipping Fort Henry altogether and spending more time at the Kingston Penitentiary and the Rockwood Asylum site and adding some new stops into the hour-and-a-half tour.

Ferguson reassures tourists that their time in Kingston won’t be any less enjoyable just because of a bridge closure.

“We want to make sure that the commitments that we’ve made to visitors to Kingston to have an experience on the water in the city are commitments that we can keep and we will make it happen,” he said.

Kingston will still be seeing the little red trolley and cruise ships doing what they were made to do one way or another.

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