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  April 5th, 2016 | Written by

St. Lawrence Seaway Opens 58th Navigation Season

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  • Shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway opened two weeks ahead of schedule thanks to warm weather.
  • The vessel Thunder Bay’s transit on the St. Lawrence Seaway takes 1,000 truckloads off Ontario highways.
  • The St. Lawrence Seaway’s modernization program is now over 50 percent complete.

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.

“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.

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 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 modernization program is now over 50 percent 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.”

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.

The Great Lakes / Seaway System extends 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Approximately 160 million tons of cargo travels over the combined Great Lakes / Seaway System on an annual basis, supporting 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity.

Beginning in Montreal and extending west, the Seaway’s 15 locks (13 Canadian and two U.S.) enable ships to climb a total of 550 feet from sea level to Lake Erie.