Seaway Opens 58th Navigation Season Ice Free

March 21, 2016

“Clear Sailing Ahead” as Seaway Opens Two Weeks Earlier

St. Catharines, Ontario (March 21, 2016) – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) marked the opening of the Seaway’s 58th navigation season today, with the transit of Canada Steamship Lines’ Thunder Bay through Lock 3 on the Welland Canal. The ship, carrying a load of road salt, will be replenishing stocks depleted by ice storms which repeatedly struck Eastern Canada over the winter.

“We certainly welcome the warmer weather. A return to an opening in the third week of March provides our clients with the opportunity to move cargo in a timely manner, and make the most of the navigation season” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC.

Allister Paterson, President of Canada Steamship Lines, served as the keynote speaker at the opening. “It’s an honour for CSL to be opening the Seaway this year with Thunder Bay, one of our state-of-the-art Trillium Class self-unloading Lakers. Like her five sister ships, this vessel is part of a new generation of vessels in the Lakes that are more energy efficient, environmentally-friendly, reliable and safe” said Paterson.

“The ongoing investment in new vessels by a variety of Seaway carriers underscores our customers’ faith in the future of the waterway” said the SLSMC’s Bowles. “In parallel with our customers’ investments, the Seaway’s award winning modernization program is now well-over 50% complete, with Hands-Free Mooring operational at eight of the Seaway’s locks. We are making steady progress in bringing about gains in efficiency and safety for all concerned, ensuring a highly competitive transportation system for years to come.”

K+S Windsor Salt ships the majority of the production coming from its Ojibway Mine in Windsor via the Great Lakes / Seaway System. Francois Allard, Director Marine Distribution for K+S Windsor Salt Ltd., said: “Not only is the Seaway transportation system the most cost-effective way to reach our markets, it also minimizes our impact on the environment. The Thunder Bay’s transit from the Ojibway mine to Bowmanville takes almost 1,000 truckloads off Ontario highways. It’s important that all levels of government continue to invest in infrastructure along this waterway and we applaud the modernization of the lock system.”

“The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System continues to be an environmentally sustainable, vital route for commerce in the global supply chain,” said Betty Sutton, Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “The Great Lakes region, North America’s ‘Opportunity Belt’, is a thriving and influential destination and the Seaway System connects this region to the world. Businesses are choosing to move their cargo through the Seaway System because of the economic benefits, safety, and reliability of our waterway, and its direct access to the heartland of North America.”

In terms of the outlook for 2016, the SLSMC’s Terence Bowles noted that a lower Canadian dollar may spur more Canadian exports this year. “The combination of a rebound in Canadian manufacturing activity, a solid U.S. economy, and the prospect of more trade with Europe brings about several catalysts which may boost Seaway tonnage”, said Bowles.

Quick Facts:

  • The Great Lakes / Seaway System is a “marine highway” that extends some 3,700 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Approximately 160 million tonnes of cargo travels over the combined Great Lakes / Seaway System on an annual basis, supporting over 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity.
  • The binational St. Lawrence Seaway serves as the linchpin within the Great Lakes / Seaway System, connecting the lower St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes.  Beginning in Montreal and extending to points west, the Seaway’s 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 U.S.) enable ships to climb a total of 168 metres from “sea level” up to Lake Erie. For more information on the St. Lawrence Seaway, please consult the website.

About The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation:

  • The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation was established in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation by the Government of Canada, Seaway users and other key stakeholders. In accordance with provisions of the Canada Marine Act, the Corporation manages and operates the Canadian assets of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which remain the property of the Government of Canada, under a long-term agreement with Transport Canada.