Bridge-It, otherwise known as the Port Robinson Ferry, passed one hurtle Tuesday on its way to surviving the next ten years. After presentations by both Susan Morin for the Niagara Cycling Tourism Centre and member club representatives of the Niagara Cycling Clubs Alliance and some discussion, Niagara Region’s Public Works Committee voted unanimously to recommend the City of Thorold’s request for funding ($66,500) to the Budget Committee for consideration in the 2018 Regional Budget.
This process started two years with the expiration of the Seaway’s contractual commitment to replace the demolished Port Robinson Bridge with a ferry across the Canal. At that time, the City attempted to negotiate a new deal, but the Seaway washed their hands of the issue. As a result, the City approached the Niagara Region to help with funding so that the ferry could continue to operate. The City would bear the costs of administration, insurance, signage, and other on-going local expenses.
In 2016, the City of Thorold was granted permission to cross Canal waters by the Seaway for a period of eleven years, after which time it would be reviewed. That is the reason for the request to continue Regional funding for ten years, to coincide with the term of the permission.
Now the Regional Budget Committee will have to accept is as well, before passing their completed budget to Niagara Regional Council for final approval.
Bridge-It, which started out as a shuttle service to connect the two halves of Port Robinson separated by the Welland Canal – which it still is – has also become a regional alternative transportation hub and tourism attraction, acting as a short-cut across the middle of the length of the Canal, effectively supplying a direct route to Niagara Falls from points west and reducing the Greater Niagara Circle Route (140 km) to two shorter bites.